The Wendy Williams Show said goodbye on Friday after 13 years on the air, but there was one thing missing — host Wendy Williams.
Instead, the finale episode included a video tribute to Williams, who launched the popular daytime talk show in 2009. The tribute showed Williams interviewing some of her famous guests and interacting with the studio audience.
Sherri Shepherd hosted the show this week, including the finale. Singer and actress Vanessa Williams appeared as a guest on the last episode.
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Vanessa recalled appearing on the first episode of the show in 2009 and praised Wendy.
“She is real and she’s resilient and she’s a fighter,” Vanessa said. “I’m really going to miss the show, miss her presence.”
At the end of the episode, the show’s staff and crew gathered on stage and thanked fans for watching.
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Williams’ ex-husband, Kevin Hunter, criticized the final episode calling it a “travesty.” He also slammed the production company behind the show for the way the finale was handled.
“I feel like it is a travesty on the part of Debmar-Mercury to have such an unceremonious departure without Wendy being involved,” Hunter said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“It is the first time in the history of talk shows for this to be done, especially for a show that has been on for more than 10 years,” he added. “There is absolutely no reason why a bigger celebration that involved Wendy couldn’t happen.”
Hunter co-created the show with Williams and he served as an executive producer, until his exit when Williams filed for divorce in 2019.
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Williams, 57, has not taken a seat in her purple chair in over a year.
After she contracted a breakthrough case of COVID-19 and battled complications from her previous diagnosis of Graves’ Disease, the season 13 premiere was delayed multiple times before it finally debuted on Oct. 18, 2021.
A number of guest hosts filled in throughout the season, including Michael Rapaport, Leah Remini, Jerry Springer, Bill Bellamy, Fat Joe and Remy Ma, Bevy Smith and Terrence J, Vivica A. Fox and Carson Kressley, and Sherri Shepherd.
The show was officially canceled in February after a string of news reports said Williams would “never return” and “was being replaced.”
Sherri Shepherd quickly emerged as a fan favorite and returned to fill in multiple times. Shepherd is launching a new talk show titled Sherri that will take over Williams’ time slot in the fall.