Meredith Vieira has been a reporter and host for decades, appearing on television in a wide variety of prime time programs. Most famous for being one of the OG hosts of The View, Vieira has also been a staple on Today, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and, of course, The Meredith Vieira Show to name her most prominent shows (via IMDb).
Additionally, Vieira, one of several morning show hosts who’ve turned heads with their stunning transformations, has appeared on 60 Minutes and CBS Morning News, eventually returning to a game show in 2018 with 25 Words or Less. Lest you think it stops there, Vieira is also a producer on more than a few films and shows, showing just how diverse her television talents are.
Of course, Vieira is more than a television personality, as she’s famously balanced her career with her personal life for as long as she’s been on the air. And sadly, she’s faced a number of obstacles over the years, both in her public and private life. Curious to know more about those details, which Vieira has handled with both strength and grace? This is the tragedy surrounding Meredith Vieira.
Growing up, Meredith Vieira struggled with her body image
Unfortunately, like many young girls, Meredith Vieira was made to feel bad about her body for no real reason when she was a kid. Perhaps the first instance of this for her was when she was riding a bike around her neighborhood, when one of her friends made a comment about her backside. "To this day… I remember all of it," she revealed on Today. "And to this day, it sticks in my head."
After that, Vieira was mortified and desperate to get skinner, no matter what the cost might be. "I went on this ridiculous diet," she continued. "All I did was drink Tab and eat like five Ritz crackers a day for the entire summer. [I was] maybe 10 when I did that for like a month and a half." Indeed the damage was done, as Vieira already had body image issues, despite the fact that she was so young.
The trauma from this incident runs deep, though Vieira doesn’t blame her friend — rather, she says it was bound to happen. And her appearance is something she continues to struggle with, especially because she’s on television.
Meredith Vieira lost her grandmother to breast cancer
Tragedy struck Meredith Vieira’s family when she was just a teenager, when her grandmother received some bad news: She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. But even though the situation was dire — the cancer had spread throughout her body, and the prognosis wasn’t good — no one in the family discussed it, not even Vieira’s grandmother. "I don’t believe she ever questioned her doctor — she just did what she was told," she shared in an interview with Health.
Because it was the mid-1970s, treatment for a diagnosis like that wasn’t what it might be today, and Vieira was just devastated. "I didn’t appreciate the fact that there was not much that could be done at the time," Vieira said. "I just saw her increasingly in pain." Vieira’s grandmother ultimately passed away in 1977.
That early tragedy obviously had an impact on Vieira, and she faces any fears she may have head-on. She regularly gets mammograms, and she has even helped the Find Your MBC Voice initiative. "If something doesn’t feel right to you, use your voice and speak up," she added. "You can’t put cancer on hold."
When she was young, Meredith Vieira survived domestic violence
In 2014, responding to the #WhyIStayed hashtag about domestic violence, Meredith Vieira opened up about an abusive relationship she had when she was younger. While things started out great, and she loved her partner, over time he began to get more and more abusive. But for a long time, she stayed with him, for a variety of reasons. "I was scared of him," she explained on an episode of The Meredith Vieira Show. "I was scared if I tried to leave something worse could happen to me." She also worried that somehow some of what was happening might be her fault, as he would often cry after his abusive episodes.
Things got especially bad when one night Vieira’s partner threw her undressed into a burning shower, then threw her outside of their apartment for two hours. She hid in a stairwell until he retrieved her, sobbing. But even then, she didn’t leave. "I continued to stay in that relationship until I was offered a job in another state, and that’s where I felt I had the ability to get away," she continued. And she did.
Thank you for sharing your story, Meredith.
Why Meredith Vieira sacrificed her job at 60 Minutes
In 1989, Meredith Vieira landed a dream job: She was hired as a correspondent on 60 Minutes, the youngest person ever to join the team at the time. But just two years later, she resigned from her post, when bigwig Don Hewitt wouldn’t let her work part-time after the birth of her second child. But given Hewitt’s status, Vieira really didn’t have a choice. "I mean, he was the king," she told the Los Angeles Times. "And so he could probably do no wrong."
Despite having to sacrifice a coveted position, Vieira’s decision made a huge impact on working mothers at the time, as she’s still thanked by other women for the move today. "And I don’t sit around talking about it, but, yeah, I hope that it somehow had gotten into the DNA," Vieira continued.
Well clearly, it has, as more and more older women are working in top TV spots. Naturally, Vieira is 100 percent here for it. "If you’re experienced and you’re good at what you do, why not?" she added. "The men have been doing it forever."
Meredith Vieira’s husband suffers from this medical condition
Meredith Vieira met her husband, Richard Cohen, in 1982, and the pair tied the knot four years later in 1986. But early on in their relationship, Cohen had a confession to make: He’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 25. "I sort of learned the hard way to get it on the table," he admitted in a chat with Yahoo! Life. "She didn’t blink."
While Vieira was nothing but supportive of her husband’s condition, Cohen certainly has had his struggles over the years. "I can give you a long list of things that I can’t do anymore," he continued. "You just sort of learn to accept that."
But that doesn’t mean that things are dire for Cohen and Vieira. Rather, they have learned how to make the most of their situation, and focus on all of the good things in their lives. "You don’t have to be controlled by it," Cohen added.
When trying to have children, Meredith Vieira had four miscarriages
According to the CDC, 12 percent of American women ages 15 to 44 have "difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term." That statistic includes Meredith Vieira, who endured four miscarriages before giving birth to her three children, as documented in her husband’s book Chasing Hope: A Patient’s Deep Dive into Stem Cells, Faith, and the Future. That couldn’t have been easy for Vieira and her husband, Richard Cohen, to deal with.
While it had to be devastating at the time, many years and three thriving adult children later, Vieira can look back and laugh at some of it. Namely, she put the progesterone suppositories her doctor prescribed her in the wrong place, if you know what we mean. It was only after calling her doctor that Vieira realized her hilarious mistake. And if she’d kept doing what she was doing? "I don’t know what would have happened, I definitely wouldn’t have had a child," she shared on Today.
While infertility is a serious struggle for anyone, Vieira hopes that other people know they’re not alone; she understands it all, even the funny parts.
Meredith Vieira’s husband survived colon cancer not once, but twice
In addition to MS, Meredith Vieira’s husband, Richard Cohen, was diagnosed with colon cancer not once, but twice. The first was in 1999, when he was diagnosed, treated, and sent into remission. But the disease reared its ugly head once again, sending Cohen into a deep depression. "He went into himself like I’ve never seen," Vieira confessed in an interview with ABC News. "I think he was a much angrier man. That second surgery carried with it a lot of stuff afterwards, the recovery period." And because he had to have a colostomy bag attached temporarily, Vieira said he was also "humiliated."
While things were quite dark for the family for a while, eventually Cohen began to recover both his health and his spirit. And through it all, Vieira and her husband relied on one particular thing to get them through: humor. "Even at the worst, right after the second colon cancer, we always found something to laugh about," she continued. "It’s what gets you through."
The drama on The View wasn’t easy for Meredith Vieira to stomach
In 1997, The View premiered on ABC, as noted by The New York Times. Created by legend Barbara Walters and her producing partner, The View features five women of different ages and backgrounds, and at its inception, one of them was Meredith Vieira. The show became a hit, especially among women, who tuned in to hear what Vieira and her co-hosts had to say about the world.
While things went well for Vieira for a while, eventually the show’s format began to grate on her nerves, something she discussed in Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View by Ramin Setoodeh. "The show was evolving. It didn’t feel the same way," she recalled. "The vibe was getting weird. … I felt like it was becoming a little bit more about acting than connecting."
Vieira eventually left The View in 2006, telling Time that the program had become hard to watch (via TMZ). "I’m proud of the work we did there, but it’s not a good time in the history of the show," she confessed. "It sort of became a joke."
In 2007, Meredith Vieira covered the tragic school shooting at Virginia Tech
In late 2016, Meredith Vieira joined Today as a journalist, a pretty exciting step in her career. However, just six months into her stint on the show, she and a team were dispatched to cover a tragic story the day it happened: the massacre at Virginia Tech. "The next morning we were live on the university campus, trying to make sense out of something totally senseless," she penned in an essay for Today. "I kept thinking to myself, ‘You’re a journalist. Make sure you get this right.’"
Vieira was worried that students would see her as "an interloper," trying to capitalize on their tragedy — but then a student approached her directly. "She said that she had watched Today for years and had grown to see us as an extension of her family," she continued. "And right now she needed a mom to hold her." So, of course, she embraced the student, holding onto her tight.
It’s an experience Vieira will never forget. "I am forever grateful to have given a voice to the students there," she added. "And to have provided some comfort for at least one."
This is why Meredith Vieira left Today
While working on Today can be a dream job for many aspiring journalists, for Meredith Vieira, she didn’t want to stay there forever. "After a four-year contract, I signed on for one more year," she explained in a chat with Good Housekeeping. "But as the year progressed, I began to realize that it wasn’t working for me in terms of my personal life."
The reason? In a nutshell, Vieira was exhausted, as she wasn’t a morning person, and getting up 2:30 a.m. every day was just too much for her and her husband. "Sleep deprivation is a bad thing," she continued. "When you’re tired all the time, you just don’t feel well." We’re exhausted just reading about it!
While Vieira was, of course, nervous to leave the show, given how prestigious it is, she knew that it was the right decision in the end. "You don’t define yourself by your job, but I found myself kind of doing that," she added. Thus it was time for her to seek out greener pastures — and more sleep.
Meredith Vieira’s Today co-host was fired in 2017, and the fallout was intense
As all of us know, 2017 ushered in the peak of the #MeToo movement — the woman behind the #MeToo movement was activist Tarana Burke – in 2006. Once amplified on social media, the movement erupted worldwide, resulting in the exposure and firings of many high-profile men who allegedly abused their power, such as Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and Today co-host Matt Lauer — who was fired in November of 2017 (via NBC News).
Naturally, Meredith Vieira was devastated to learn of the accusations against Lauer. "[It was] was like a gut punch," she lamented in an interview with People. "I was [in L.A.] and my phone started going off at 4 a.m. I didn’t know what to make of all of it." She added that she was in "shock," as she has said Lauer was like a brother to her.
Ever sympathetic, Vieira feels that what happened was complicated. "The whole thing is just sad," she continued. "And it’s been rough in a lot of places with a lot of people." Indeed it has.
When Regis Philbin passed away in 2020, Meredith Vieira was devastated
On July 24, 2020, television icon Regis Philbin died of natural causes at the ripe age of 88, as noted by People. For Meredith Vieira, who assumed Philbin’s position on Who Wants to be a Millionaire after he departed the show, the loss was significant, thanks to Philbin’s exceptional personality. "Well the obvious that everyone will miss is he was the constant entertainer," she revealed to People. "He was so good at conversation, so good at listening and such a great listener."
But for all of the things that Philbin shared with the world, there’s one thing that Vieira said that she’d mourn for more than anything else. "What I will miss the most is his kindness," she continued, adding that Philbin "never forgot that he was this kid from the Bronx."
Arguably the main reason Vieira felt the loss of Philbin was that he reached out to her when she started her own talk show, which is not an easy feat. Philbin understood that, and he offered his services. "That’s who he was and I will miss that a lot," Vieira added.
Even Meredith Vieira struggles with imposter syndrome
Meredith Vieira has had an incredible career that has spanned decades. She’s hosted game shows, helmed talk shows, and covered some of the most important breaking news that’s out there on more than one occasion. However, like all of us, even Vieira has struggled with her confidence over the years. "It doesn’t matter where you are in your career," she told NBC News. "Everyone, especially women, has imposter syndrome." And while that’s relatable, it’s a shame Vieira deals with that, especially with experience like hers.
But don’t despair, ladies: Vieira says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us feeling weird about changing careers. "Once you get that piece cracked, the more practical part — the how do I apply my skills from one industry to another — that piece tends to flow automatically," she continued. And she ought to know, judging by experience.
One of Meredith Vieira’s children tested positive for coronavirus
In 2020, Meredith Vieira and her family had to go on lockdown just like everyone else, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted everything and everyone. Fortunately for Vieira, she was able to make the most of her time in quarantine with her husband, Richard Cohen. In fact, she said she was able to truly value all that she had, and she manifested gratitude during her time at home.
Unfortunately, one of Vieira’s children tested positive for the virus, which was understandably unnerving. But it sounds like things ended up just fine in the end. "[Ben] had a fever, but he was very lucky — he never needed any hospitalization or anything like that," Vieira explained in an interview with Closer Weekly. "And he has since, for a while, tested negative and has been able to donate blood and plasma, so that has been a great thing to be able to give back."