Ex-KTTV Good Day L.A. show host Jillian Barberie’s life reads like a multi-layered dramatic novel — filled with trauma, abuse, addiction, depression, and a life-changing battle with breast cancer. General Hospital’s Maurice Benard sat down with her to get the whole story on this week’s video podcast episode of State Of Mind.
Maurice Benard And Jillian Barberie: Cracks On The Surface
On the surface, Jillian Barberie had it all. She started out as a weather woman in Florida before moving to FOX NFL Sports Sunday, co-hosting Good Day L.A. and Good Day Live. The Canadian broadcast journalist was married to former Major League Baseball player Bret Barberie. But lurking beneath the surface, there was more to her story and Benard (Sonny Corinthos) took a deep dive.
Barberie summed up that time period in a nutshell. “It was the best experience of my life. I worked with Jimmy Kimmel and Frank Caliendo and Chris Collinsworth and Troy Aikman….And this is the God’s honest truth. We are at the AFC championship playoffs where I have a miscarriage.
Her memory returned to the fancy hotel she was staying at, possibly the Ritz Carlton, she tried to recall, but another memory was crystal clear. “I remember saying to the women that would come in every day, ‘I’m sorry, I am so sorry. I know it looks like a murder scene.’ Then I called in Lisa the makeup artist and she was like, ‘Ah!’ But I was on the sidelines at 9 am, all dolled up and ready to go. That’s how I operate. You do what you gotta do.”
In 2003, she divorced and moved on to husband number two in 2006. Barberie spotted the first danger signs early on when ex-Marine sniper turned actor Grant Reynolds moved in.
A Season In Hell
“There were a lot of red flags but the first real one was when he was moving in, and just like you have these mugs we are drinking out of, I had mugs from my world,” she explained. “I had one from Howard Stern. One was from working in Miami, it was a dolphin. One was when I was working with Regis [Philbin]. And I said, ‘Okay, let me move some things around and you put your mugs in.’ It just so happened that they all had purpose. One was from Montreal where I started my television career. And he said, ‘Well, f**k it. If you are going to keep all of them.’ And he went outside and threw his entire box of mugs on the cement and they smashed.”
His behavior led to an epiphany for Barberie…and therapy. “At the end of the day, if you know anything about narcissists. They are very picky. I had four years of therapy after him because I couldn’t understand what just happened to me and my life. And the best way that he [therapist] put it to me is, and this killed me, it rocked my world, but it helped me…he said to me, ‘He didn’t experience the same thing you did.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘All that mattered to him was you were the reflection, the red carpets…’
“Which was true. He would be very charming but at home, it was very violent. I was never punched but there were holes in the wall. A scary environment. I always said the wrong thing. I was too fat. I was too skinny. I was too loud. I didn’t change the baby’s diaper right. Didn’t load the dishwasher correctly.” Remarks that a lot of readers may relate to.
Jillian Barberie: Addiction and A Diagnosis That Rocked Her World
The television hostess spoke frankly about her relationship with alcohol. “You know, depression and alcoholism go together. I started drinking at 14. My first was maybe 17. I blacked out in a snow bank. It is so Canadian. I am very lucky. My brother’s friend passed out in a car, and he is super tall, and he passed out with his legs outside of the window. He doesn’t have any legs anymore.”
But her casual relationship with the vice increased when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. “After a promotional day of Mammograms and Mimosas at the Four Seasons, she received the news. “I get a 3rd callback and they want to do a sonogram,” Barberie shared. “So I am in a room with them and they get very quiet, for about 45 minutes. And I am already thinking, ‘F**k this, I am going to get a double mastectomy’ because, I am friends with Debra Tate, Sharon Tate’s sister. She had breast cancer and I went to Beverly Hills and I am like, ‘We are going to get you the best care.’ She was like a sister to me. She had a lumpectomy, chemo, and no radiation. Mine was a little different.”
Treatment And Beyond
Her anxiety and depression grew as more trauma landed in her lap. She began her treatment. “Here’s where I got my depression. So I had my first chemo and I came out like a rock star. My kids were all part of it. And I made it fun. I made it funny. So, I get called into my business manager’s office, and the girl that was with me during chemo, I said, ‘This sounds really serious. I want you to come with me. ‘Cause I am scared.’ Because they said, ‘You need to come today.’
“It’s freezing. It’s January and I have got a cashmere blanket and a hat because I am bald and your face swells up after the first [chemo] because of the steroids,” she said as she painted a picture of the next challenge she would face. “I sat down that day, and he said, ‘We owe $750,000 dollars to the IRS.’ And I collapsed and it was the first time I cried. It ended up being $1.2 million because of the fees.”
Barberie did her best to hold it together for her family. “I had to put a happy face on for my kids but it was years of hell,” she admitted. “I lived in my own head because I couldn’t tell anybody because they would think I was stupid or something. My life, I had worked so hard and I had lived 22 years in that house and the thought of losing it just blew my mind. The IRS monkey was on my back for years.”
Jillian Barberie is brutally honest with the audience in a way true survivors understand and she tells it through laughter and tears. Find out more of her impactful life as she shares her early meeting with the Benards, growing up as an adoptee, her early career and rise to fame, life in Miami, being married to a professional athlete, working with the NFL, recovering from a negative relationship, and how she dealt with being fired and moving from trauma to triumph. Watch the full episode here.
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.
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Jillian is incredibly candid as she talks about her incredible career, marriage, divorce, leaving @GDLA, therapy, alcoholism, depression, battling breast cancer.https://t.co/baoS5UzORn pic.twitter.com/2xyOVlxURh
— Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) July 3, 2022
— Maurice Benard (@MauriceBenard) July 3, 2022