The Troubled Children Of These Talk Show Hosts

This feature discusses self-harm, suicide, addiction, drug misuse, mental health issues, bullying, and domestic violence. 

Talk show hosts are known to discuss tragic stories involving other people. But, it's not every day they talk about the tragedies they may have personally faced, and even fewer hosts discuss sad times involving their children. The reason could have to do with privacy. Like journalists, most talk show hosts might not want to make themselves or their families a part of the story — makes sense, right?

But some hosts could certainly talk a great deal about the troubles experienced by their own children since many of them have faced challenges throughout their lives. While some of these progenies leaped the hurdles placed in front of them, others sadly weren't so fortunate. As we get into the troubled children of these talk show hosts and detail what happened to them, we'll also reveal how these TV superstars were affected and what they've said about their kids' struggles. 

Sharon Osbourne dealt with a family addiction

Former co-host of "The Talk," Sharon Osbourne has seen substance misuse experienced by multiple people within her family. Her husband, Ozzy Osbourne has faced issues with addiction since the '70s, and their children, Jack Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne have endured their own experiences with addiction, also. In 2003, it was reported that a then-17-year-old Jack had checked into Las Encinas Hospital, a rehab facility in Southern California that helps people with mental health conditions including chemical dependency. A few months later, during an interview with MTV, he disclosed that he was addicted to the painkiller, OxyContin. Fortunately, the former reality star turned things around and in 2021, he celebrated 18 years of sobriety.

Jack's sister Kelly has also come a long way from her own addiction issues. In 2021, she spoke about her own history of drug use in an episode of "Red Table Talk." Explaining that she began using Vicodin at 13 years old to cope with the negative attention she received after "The Osbournes" took off, she told the hosts, "And then, very quickly, it went from Vicodin to Percocet, from Percocet to heroin."

In a 2020 interview with The Daily Star (via the Daily Mail), Sharon opened up about the heartache of seeing her children use drugs. "I felt that [they had] seen their dad go through so much, my kids, that they [wouldn't] touch it," she said. "Well, they did and it ended badly with each of them. It did break my heart."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jada Pinkett Smith's child experienced self-harm

When Kelly Osbourne spoke about struggling with the pressures of fame on "Red Table Talk," co-host, Willow Smith, could definitely relate. The daughter of actors, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow grew up in the spotlight. At 10 years old, she also had a hit song called "Whip My Hair." The pressure and success of releasing such a huge single led the young performer to doubt her own mind and aspirations. Eventually, Willow's despair led to self-harm.

"I was kind of, like, just in this gray area of 'Who am I? Do I have a purpose? Is there anything, like, I can do besides this?'" she discussed with her shocked mom and grandmother, during a 2018 "Red Table Talk" episode. "They wanted me to finish my album. I was just, like, 'No, I'm not going to do that' ... I was just plunged into this black hole and I was, like, cutting myself." Willow eventually stopped after realizing the true extent of the harm that she was doing to herself. 

But that wasn't the only time that Willow talked about the success of "Whip My Hair" and how much emotional turmoil it caused. During another episode of "Red Table Talk," she explained how the experience of becoming a child superstar made her feel as though she lost agency over her own dreams. She noted that her father had also been overly critical of her at that time — however, she'd since chosen to forgive him.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Wendy Williams' son pleaded not guilty

One doesn't have to have a Bachelor's degree in psychology to know that Kevin Hunter Jr. may have been troubled by his parents' Wendy Williams and Kevin Hunter Sr.'s very public divorce. Potential proof of that was when Hunter Jr. had a physical fight with his dad in 2019 when the split was making headlines. Some may recall that Hunter Sr. allegedly fathered a child with a woman named Sharina Hudson while married to Williams, which generated a lot of gossip.

But back to the fight. As reported by TMZ, it took place in a New Jersey store parking lot, when the father and son got into an argument. First, it was said the yelling match was over Hunter Jr. being mad at his father for wanting spousal support from Williams. But later it was reported the argument was over Hunter Sr. wanting his son to make his own way in life and not rely on his famous mom's help.

Either way, Hunter Sr. reportedly put his then-18-year-old son in a headlock, who punched his dad in retaliation. The teen was arrested on assault charges afterward and pleaded not guilty. Later, however, the charges were dropped against Hunter Jr. and his dad was in the courtroom to support him. In 2022, Hunter Jr. sadly made headlines again when The Sun reported that he had been evicted from his Miami apartment for owing $70,000 in unpaid rent.

Sally Jessy Raphael's children faced tragedy

Sadly, both of Sally Jessy Raphael's children faced serious problems in their life. In January 1992, the talk show host's then-19-year-old son, Jason Soderlund was in critical condition after a serious car crash that required him to undergo seven hours of surgery. On an episode of "Sally," at the time, Raphael told her audience that her son had sustained a brain injury. Just five months later, he was involved in yet another car accident. Thankfully, this one involved no serious injuries. 

Later, Soderlund went through a contentious divorce where his visitation rights to see his daughter was almost revoked. Per the New Haven Register, in 2004, he was accused of having abandoned his daughter at the hospital following yet another car crash. Testifying on behalf of her son, Raphael defended Soderlund and claimed that he had been sent home from the hospital as there wasn't a bed for him.

Tragically, just three weeks after her son's 1992 car crash, Raphael's daughter Allison Vladimir was found dead in the family's Pennsylvania home. However, a separate report said that she died in her mother's bed and breakfast. Moreover, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Vladimir's death was related to ingesting an accidentally lethal combination of over-the-counter medicine and prescription drugs. 

Marie Osmond talked about bullying

In 2010, TMZ reported the tragic news that Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil, had died by suicide. Eight months later, the singer, actor, and talk show host opened up about the tragedy in an interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" where she revealed the last conversation she had with her son. "When I heard him say to me, 'I have no friends,' it brought back when I went through depression because you really feel so alone," Osmond recalled. "I'm not a depressed person, but I understand that place, that darkness ... I told him, I said, 'Mike, I'm gonna be there Monday and it's gonna be OK.' But depression doesn't wait 'til Monday."

In 2007, Blosil entered a rehab facility for undisclosed reasons. According to the teenager's friends, he was completely sober around the time of his death — a fact supported by his autopsy report. On an episode of "The Talk" in 2019 (via "Access Hollywood"), Osmond revealed that her son had been experiencing extreme harassment for his life choices. "He was bullied very heavily right up until the time that he committed suicide, because of his sobriety," she told her co-hosts. "... I've got the texts, I mean they're horrendous, and I never took action against it. But I can tell you, honestly, that I believe that that was a high component in him just feeling overwhelmed and that he didn't fit in."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Barbara Simpson was attacked by her daughter

Between the 1970s and 1990s, Barbara Simpson made a name for herself as a news anchor in San Francisco. She also hosted a conservative talk radio show on KSFO. At the age of 77, Barbara was physically assaulted by her then-42-year-old daughter, Patricia Simpson, in front of their home. The Mercury News reported that neighbors saw Patricia kicking her mom before forcefully pulling her inside. The troubled daughter had previously been arrested for having an outstanding warrant and public drunkenness. For this particular incident, she was booked on charges of felony elderly abuse, while her mother was treated for a concussion.

Fast-forward to 2022, there still wasn't any information about what happened after Patricia's arrest. Barbara hasn't spoken about it publicly and just continued to work in political news, as a columnist for WorldNetDaily. But still, there seems to be some proof that the talk show host was out of commission for a while following the assault, which took place on October 27, 2014. A little Facebook sleuthing shows that Barbara didn't post anything between October 13 of that year and November 10. Whether the social media absence was related to the attack is up for debate, but it's certainly possible.