EXCLUSIVE: ‘Covid did a number on her.’ Helen Reddy’s ex-husband Jeff Wald reveals the singer’s health ‘took a nose dive’ months ago as she wasn’t able to socialize with loved ones due to the pandemic, but says her final day was spent with her daughter
- Australian singer Helen Reddy died at the age of 78 on Tuesday, five years after she was diagnosed with dementia
- Her ex-husband Jeff Wald, 76, shared an intimate family photo with DailyMail.com and said, ‘I think she had enough, she just gave up’
- Jeff said Helen went downhill very fast after being hospitalized months ago for liver or kidney issues
- He said that COVD-19 ‘really did a number on her. She wasn’t able to see her friends, socialize, you know, she was someone who loved all of that’
- They were married from 1966-1983, and Jeff is credited with guiding her career through hits like I Am Woman, Angie Baby, and You And Me Against The World
- He said her final day was spent with their daughter Traci, 57
- ‘I think they had brunch together at the Home, and after Traci left to go back to Malibu she got the call that her mother had passed. It was that quick,’ he said
Helen Reddy’s ex-husband Jeff Wald has opened up about the Australian singer’s final days battling dementia at the Motion Picture & Television Hospital and Retirement Home in Woodland Hills, California.
‘I think she had enough, she just gave up,’ Jeff Wald told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
Jeff, 76, was married to Helen from 1966-1983, and is credited with guiding her career through hits like I Am Woman, Angie Baby, You And Me Against The World, and many more.
He says she went downhill very fast after being hospitalized months ago for liver or kidney issues.
‘She really took a nose dive about four months ago in terms of her dementia, it went really fast. The Covid thing really did a number on her. She wasn’t able to see her friends, socialize, you know, she was someone who loved all of that.’
He says her final day was spent with their daughter Traci, 57. ‘I think they had brunch together at the Home, and after Traci left to go back to Malibu she got the call that her mother had passed. It was that quick.’
Helen is pictured at her birthday celebration two years ago at the Malibu Farm restaurant in Malibu. She’s pictured with her ex husband Jeff and two children Jordan and Traci. Jeff said Helen went downhill very fast after being hospitalized months ago for liver or kidney issues
Wald, a 76-year-old producer, was married to Helen from 1966 until 1983, and their often tumultuous relationship was documented in this year’s biopic I Am Woman. Pictured together at a television taping in New York City in November 1977
‘I am very sad to announce that my first wife of 18 years and the mother of my two oldest Traci and Jordan has died,’ Wald tweeted
Back in April, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that despite safety protocols, the coronavirus had turned the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Country House And Hospital into a ‘war zone.’
Jeff says her final day was spent with their daughter Traci, 57 (pictured together)
At that time, four residents died from the pandemic, 24 were sickened by it, along with nine of their employees.
Reddy, who died at the age of 78 on September 29, was one of the 227 residents of the facility.
The MPTF, which opened in 1921, is only open to those individuals who are over 70, and have worked in the entertainment industry for more than two decades.
‘It’s quite a place,’ says Jeff, ‘I mean if you have to live in a retirement home it would be a good one.’
While Helen did not have Covid-19, she suffered from the quarantine ‘new normal’ imposed to keep her and other ‘at risk’ residents safe.
‘I know a lot of our old friends were in there with her and she had a routine [that was disrupted]. It was a sharp decline as far as her health went in those final months. I don’t think [Covid] helped her.’
Reddy’s two children, Traci Donat and Jordan Sommers, announced their mother’s death on Facebook. Reddy is pictured with Wald and their son, Jordan, in Hawaii in March 1980
Reddy died in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, five years after she was diagnosed with dementia
Reddy and Wald are pictured together at a movie premiere in Los Angeles in April 1978. He said that COVD-19 ‘really did a number on her. She wasn’t able to see her friends, socialize, you know, she was someone who loved all of that’
While many reports have the Australian singer suffering with Alzheimer’s, Jeff tells DailyMail.com, it was dementia.
‘We had a terrible divorce, it was like The War Of The Roses times ten! We were both stubborn, passionate, tough people. But in the end, we made peace, because it was just time to get past all the bull sh*t.’
The Hollywood producer, President and CEO of Sommers Enterprises, Inc., says he and his current wife of thirty years, photographer Deborah, and their daughter Sarah, 22, spent time over the 2019 Christmas holidays with Helen and their daughter Traci and son Jordan, 47.
‘It was nice we could all be friends at the end.’
Jeff and his wife Deborah also attended several screenings of the Helen Reddy biopic ‘I Am Woman’ that was released on September 11.
‘We looked on as Helen would sing along to all her songs as she watched the movie, she loved it!’
Reddy was staying at the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Country House And Hospital, which during COVID-19 turned into a ‘war zone,’ however, the singer never got sick with the virus
Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey (left) portrays Reddy in I Am Woman, which follows her rise to fame in the 1970s, while American actor Evan Peters (right) plays Wald. Jeff and his wife Deborah attended several screenings of the Helen Reddy biopic
Jeff looks back at their love affair and marriage with fondness.
‘She wrote I Am Woman in twenty minutes in our bed’ he recalls. ‘She was just a force of nature. We had a very competitive relationship. Helen was career minded, determined, and self-educated. I had a drug addiction that tore us apart.’
Jeff says he has been clean and sober since 1986.
‘I turned on the TV today to Good Morning America, and The Today Show and saw wonderful pieces on Helen. She deserved it, what a woman!’
Jeff’s manager Melody Storm tells DailyMail.com he currently has book and film deals in the works about his lengthy career in the entertainment industry.
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