Steve Harvey has carved his name in Hollywood as the go-to host, from The Steve Harvey Morning Show and Family Feud to even presenting for the Miss Universe competitions. Yet, there's a lot that lies beneath the smiles and charm. His journey has been far from a walk in the park, marked by huge on-screen slip-ups and weathering two messy divorces that nearly broke him. Brace yourself for the not-so-family-friendly look into the real side of Steve Harvey.
Harvey's Roots Begun in Virginia
Steve Harvey has been in the spotlight for decades now and has become the epitome of family-friendly entertainment. However, his story is far from the expected narrative. Born on January 17, 1957, to coal miner parents in Welch, West Virginia, Harvey's journey from humble beginnings to Hollywood stardom was no overnight success. The Harvey household, with four older siblings and working-class parents, laid the foundation he needed for resilience and tenacity.
Little did Steve know that a small-town Virginia boy would take Hollywood by storm, become a wealthy star, and face challenges in his love life like no other. But at what cost?
He Had a Severe Stutter as a Child
At the age of four, Steve Harvey's family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, setting the stage for a journey marked by unexpected hurdles. Steve grappled with a severe stutter during his early years, a challenge he didn't shy away from. Friends affectionately called him "Va-va-voom" due to his struggle with the letter "v." As Steve entered junior high, his story became a familiar one in the neighborhood, with the community offering unconventional support to help him overcome his stutter.
Steve's resilience would pave the way for a remarkable ascent, turning his early struggles into a powerful narrative of finding his voice beyond the stutter.
His Local Deli Man Who Gave Him the Courage to Speak
One particular moment in his life that stuck out to him occurred at his local deli. The man who worked there was quite familiar with Steve and promised to give him free candy if he could talk to him without stuttering. It may seem harsh at first, but before Steve spoke, he gave him some advice that Steve would come to hold close to his heart for the rest of his life.
“He taught me before you say anything, say it to yourself three times. Take your time and speak on the exhale,” He would think of this advice every time he spoke.
Dropping Out of College in the '70s
In his early life, Steve Harvey showed promising commitment. Completing high school in 1974, he embarked on a university journey, being the first in his lineage to do so. Harvey chose to pursue an advertising degree at Kent State University and even joined Greek life through the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. However, a change of fate struck in his junior year, forcing him to drop out before achieving his degree.
He later shared in an interview that he wished he would've finished his studies and still regrets dropping out to this day. But this wouldn't be the first time Steve would come to have major life regrets.
He Took on Many Odd Jobs to Make a Living
Before his bigshot Hollywood career and interesting dating history, Steve led a very different life. He experienced diverse occupations before realizing his comic potential, which included positions such as a mailman, an autoworker, a carpet cleaner, and even a stint in boxing. During his time as an insurance salesman, he crossed paths with Marcia, who would later become his first wife. Introduced through a mutual friend, the connection was immediate.
When Steve was 24, he and Marcia decided to tie the knot. This marked the beginning of his rollercoaster love life.
His Interest in Comedy Began After Having Twins
The journey took an unexpected twist for young father Steve Harvey and his wife as they welcomed twin girls, Brandi and Karli, in 1982. At the time, Steve was thrust into fatherhood, so he had to become good at balancing parenthood with his insurance sales job. On the side, he started dabbling in comedy, specifically observational comedy, and took an interest in what it would actually be like to perform.
At age 28, he stepped into the limelight during amateur night at Cleveland’s Hilarities Comedy Club, unknowingly shifting his career trajectory and the drama that would soon follow.
Steve's Risky Leap Into Comedy
The moment that changed it all was when he stepped on that stage at Cleveland’s Hilarities Comedy Club. A few people performed, and he ended up winning the night and earning $50. It ignited something in him, and he realized he could make a living from comedy. He knew he had to pursue his dream. Making money from performing had never seemed feasible before, but now he could imagine a different life.
Yet, this decision triggered the first of many disagreements with wife Marcia. Steve's leap into comedy was a risky gamble; while he would spend nights at comedy clubs, Marcia was left alone at home with the kids.
The Price of Chasing Laughter
Convinced he needed to pursue comedy, Steve Harvey took a daring leap despite the financial responsibility of supporting his kids. Abandoning a stable job by quitting his insurance salesman role, he pursued performing full-time. The gamble proved challenging in the first year, with Harvey revealing that he only earned $3,000 as a full-time comedian. He risked having enough money to take care of his children to pursue a career as a comedian.
This put a major strain on his relationship with Marcia, running their marriage. His pursuit of laughter came at a cost, highlighting the harsh realities of the entertainment industry and the personal sacrifices made on the rocky road to success.
He Struggled With Homelessness While Trying to Become a Comedian
Juggling sporadic paychecks, Steve Harvey gave up most of his earnings to support his wife, Marcia, and their young children. However, the late 1980s dealt him a harsh blow as many gigs fell through, leaving him homeless. Life on the road turned unbearable, forcing him to resort to desperate measures, like stealing fuel to make it to a gig. Despite all these hurdles, he continued to be set on a Hollywood career.
But this meant his primary focus was becoming a comedian, not his family. The family man we know him as today wasn't who he always was because, during this time, his career came before his children and wife.
Steve Was Hardly in His Kid's Lives While They Were Young
But how could he do that in the long term, and what did it mean for his family? Amidst the struggle, Steve Harvey's only refuge was when the gig hosts occasionally put the performers in a hotel for the night. When that luxury vanished, he resorted to sleeping in his car. How would he shower and use the bathroom? Living in his car meant showers at rest-stop bathrooms and public pools.
During that time, he was in and out of his wife's and children's lives but managed to have a third child with Marcia. This harsh reality of juggling homelessness, fatherhood, and comedy lasted from ages 30 to 33.
He Racked up a Bill of $11,000 in Travel Expenses
Amidst years of relentless financial struggles as a budding comedian, Steve Harvey found salvation in Rich and Becky Liss. He admitted years later that while he was struggling so much, the couple remained his lifeline. Steve reminisced, "When I became a comedian at 27, lacking the funds to travel, they gave me an account at their travel agency. I ran up a bill of $11,000 just traveling, trying to make it."
They took on the massive responsibility of funding Steve's pursuit of a comedy career. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, as he chased his dream, Marcia and his three kids were left wondering if he would return.
Marcia Was Fed up With Steve Being an Absent Father and Husband
By 1991, Steve Harvey began gaining traction in the entertainment world, marking a pivotal moment in his career. Despite this success, the price of fame took its toll on his personal life. His marriage with Marcia had deteriorated due to his absence, with his children rarely seeing their father. Marcia, shouldering the responsibility alone, became increasingly upset as Steve focused on personal aspirations rather than family. Was this path worth severing ties with her?
He continuously chose a life of fame over being a good dad and husband, and Marcia couldn't take it anymore.
He Couldn't Balance Stardom and Family Life
Amidst his lowest moments, Steve Harvey clung to an inner voice urging perseverance. "If you keep going, I'm going to take you places you've never been," it whispered, a divine reassurance that fueled his resilience. As a finalist in the 1990 National Comedy Search, doors swung open, presenting a gig on It's Showtime at the Apollo; this would serve as his ticket to national acclaim. But there was a catch.
This took place in New York, and he was in Florida at the time. Would Harvey use this as an opportunity to bridge the gap with his family, or would the allure of fame keep him chasing dreams at the expense of familial bonds?
Landing His First Hosting Job
Recognizing the transformative potential of the opportunity on It's Showtime at the Apollo, Steve Harvey, ever the optimist, worked his charm. Booking two stand-up gigs in Florida, he scraped together enough funds for airfare to New York. He didn't think twice about his wife at home with their children; he was just set on getting himself to New York. This move ended up paying off for his career and setting the tone for his relationship.
Years of hardship began bearing fruit, and this performance gave him the exposure he needed to land a hosting gig. Which meant Marcia and his children were officially left alone in Cleveland.
Fame, Divorce, and a Huge Hollywood Opportunity
Steve was gaining stand-up success and moving up in his career. Simultaneously, Marcia was on her last whims and had a feeling Steve would never change. They decided to officially get divorced in 1994. That same year, he landed his first starring role in the ABC sitcom Me and the Boys. This marked a turning point, capturing network attention and propelling him to be taken seriously as an actor and comedian.
Just a year after the sitcom ended, he was offered a chance at his show, The Steve Harvey Show, alongside Cedric the Entertainer.
Headlining Comedy Tours Solidified His Status in Hollywood
The Steve Harvey Show was a huge milestone for his career and really set him on the path he had been chasing for so long. Though he always had his heart set on stand-up, so he decided to focus on comedy again, which paid off. By 1995, he booked his first significant headliner, the HBO Comedy Half Hour: Steve Harvey. His career started taking off, but his kids were left wondering where their dad went.
By 1997, he enjoyed great success by joining the Kings of Comedy tour, sharing the stage with comedians Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, and D.L. Hughley. It even became one of the highest-grossing comedy tours ever.
The Tangled Web of Love Affairs
In the spotlight of comedy success, Steve Harvey's romantic journey took scandalous turns. Prioritizing his career seemingly cost him his first marriage, but love found him again in Mary Lee Shackleford, a makeup artist he encountered in the early 1990s. Speculations arose about Steve's infidelity, suggesting he cheated with Mary while still married to Marcia. Although their romance became official over two years after his divorce, the stories circulated, giving him a bad reputation.
While triumphing in Hollywood, Steve Harvey's romantic journey unfolded, marked by blurred lines, and his personal choices left a trail of betrayed family ties in its wake.
Tying the Knot Again
As Steve Harvey soared in the comedy hierarchy, his personal life embarked on an equally dramatic trajectory. After a whirlwind romance, Steve and Mary sealed the deal on June 21, 1996. The plot thickened on July 18, 1997, with the arrival of their first child, Wynton Harvey. Juggling the dynamics of a fourth child and a fresh marriage wasn't a seamless script for Harvey, who had already weathered stormy parenting seas from his first marriage.
The stage was set for family drama as he already had children that he rarely saw from his first marriage. So how could he possibly father a fourth child and be a present husband the second time around?
His Career Rose to New Heights
In 2000, amidst the success of The Steve Harvey Show, Steve Harvey blindsided the industry by announcing his venture into radio with The Steve Harvey Morning Show. Met with skepticism and whispers of ruining his career, Harvey's daring move proved the naysayers wrong. The Los Angeles-based morning program soared to success, dominating 70 stations and captivating around six million weekly listeners at its peak. This unexpected triumph signaled a new era in his career.
While Marcia and their three kids were left in the dust, Steve Harvey appeared to have found a sweet spot in life. His career had soared, transforming him into a household name, and he embraced a new chapter with his wife, Mary Lee, and their baby son.
He Relished in Hollywood Glitz While Ignoring His Family
The early 2000s catapulted Steve Harvey into comedic stardom, as he not only ruled the early-morning radio waves but also shared the screen with none other than Beyoncé in the 2003 film The Fighting Temptations. As Hollywood embraced him, he dove into roles in Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Johnson Family Vacation, and You Got Served. He had proven himself as a comedian and actor, climbing the social charts in Hollywood.
Amidst this whirlwind of success, the same year unfurled personal challenges, hinting at a storm brewing behind the scenes of Harvey's seemingly charmed life.
Navigating a Second Divorce and Secret Romances
A decade into wedded bliss, Steve and Mary's love story took an unexpected twist, spiraling into divorce in November 2005. Little did Harvey fathom that this separation wouldn't mark the end but a prelude to Mary's lingering presence. While focusing on comedy and releasing a new special, Steve discreetly moved forward. But behind the scenes, a reconnection from his past quietly unfolded, setting the stage for a new love story.
Steve couldn't seem to stay away from the drama surrounding his love life. As soon as his second marriage ended, he quickly took interest in someone else.
Steve and Marjorie Began Flirting While He Was a Married Man
In the '90s, Marjorie Elaine Bridges stepped into the front row at one of Steve Harvey's shows in Memphis. Expecting a regular laugh-fest, she got more than she bargained for. Arriving late, Marjorie became the unwitting star of the evening, catching Harvey's eye. Her unexpected rendezvous with the comedian wasn't just a comedic twist; it laid the foundation for a love story that would take center stage and rewrite the script of Harvey's personal life.
However, this wasn't an ordinary love story because their connection took place during his marriage to Mary. It seemed as if Steve had a pattern in his romantic life.
Steve Harvey's Love Roulette
In a show-stopping moment, Steve Harvey pointed at Marjorie in the crowd, teasingly claiming he'd marry her. Little did they suspect that this onstage banter would spark real-life romance. Reminiscing on his show, Marjorie recalled the surprising declaration. Post-performance, they ventured into a whirlwind romance. Yet, as swiftly as the sparks ignited, the love story of Steve and Marjorie Harvey encountered unexpected turns that would challenge their connection, proving that real-life love tales are anything but scripted.
The catch was they had briefly dated in the early '90s, but they both went on to marry other people. It wasn't until 2005, when he and Mary divorced that Marjorie and Steve decided to give love a second chance.
His Mysterious Disappearance in the Early Days of Love With Marjorie
Marjorie came out years later and shared that they dated in the 1990s until Steve disappeared. This was his specialty during that time. Apparently, this was when Steve was trying to make a name for himself and become financially stable, so although they hit it off at first, he decided to focus on himself. He disappeared for years to chase his career until they met again a decade later.
A decade and two marriages later, the stars aligned for a proper reunion in 2005. Freshly single post-sitcom, Harvey's unexpected journey back to Marjorie was fueled by an unlikely ally who saw their potential.
Bodyguard Intervention Sparks Passionate Reunion
Amidst the chaos of rocky marriages and struggles with Mary Shackelford, Steve Harvey's bodyguard turned confidant witnessed it all. Recognizing Harvey's genuine happiness with Marjorie, the bodyguard delivered a crucial wake-up call. He told Steve that the only woman he saw him happy with was Marjorie, so he better call her before he started dating anyone else. That moment he changed Steve's life. Steve took the advice to reconnect with Marjorie.
The third time's a charm because Marjorie and Steve hit it off, marking the beginning of a genuine and lasting love. However, Mary would soon speak out against Steve and claim he was cheating on her the whole time.
Divorce Drama Unleashed and More Cheating Accusations
Mary Harvey, Steve's ex-wife, resurfaced with explosive revelations about their divorce in 2005. Accusing Steve of infidelity with his current wife, Marjorie, Mary spilled the tea on the unraveling drama that led to their split. She claimed to find evidence of his cheating on their second anniversary but stayed with him in hopes he would change. Post-divorce, Mary found herself cut off from the lavish lifestyle she once knew, grappling with financial restrictions.
Meanwhile, Steve and Marjorie wasted no time rekindling their relationship, leading to a seamless reunion and eventual marriage in June 2007. They quickly became a blended family as they embraced their second chance at love.
From Broken Bonds to a New Family
In a surprising twist, Steve Harvey's rollercoaster journey took a redemptive turn as he solidified his commitment to family. The Hollywood heavyweight went beyond the spotlight, formally adopting Marjorie's kids and healing wounds with his adult daughters, Brandi and Karli. Their moving acknowledgment, "You belonged to the world," peeled back the layers of sacrifice behind Steve's fame. Now, Steve's family reconnected, turning his tale from broken bonds to a heartwarming journey of finding comfort and happiness in blended harmony.
He was ready to put the cheating behind him and step up as a father to all his kids. But could he keep the promise?
He Was Suddenly a Love Guru
Steve Harvey's career took an unexpected turn as he ventured into the realm of relationships. In 2009, the charismatic comedian achieved bestselling author status and transformed into a self-help guru with his book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The book's immense success not only solidified Harvey's expertise in matters of the heart but also inspired a feature film, Think Like a Man, where he took on the role of executive producer and made a cameo appearance.
This unexpected turn in his career marked a pivotal moment for the comedian, propelling him into the role of a love guru despite his questionable past and pattern of cheating.
The Unlikely Host of Family Feud
While enjoying the success that came with being Hollywood's new relationship expert, Steve Harvey stepped into the spotlight as the host of the iconic game show Family Feud in September 2010. Little did anyone know that this move would define the next chapter of his career. Harvey breathed new life into the beloved show, securing the longest tenure of any Family Feud host and elevating its ratings. Just how influential would this move become?
The unexpected triumph led to a historic moment in 2013, as Harvey became the first double host nominee for a Daytime Emmy Award.
Steve Harvey's Stormy Past Coming Back to Haunt Him
Just when Steve Harvey's career seemed to hit its peak, a storm was brewing behind the scenes. In 2011, Mary Shackelford, his ex-wife, reemerged with explosive allegations, tearing through the carefully crafted image of the beloved comedian. She wasn't ready to let go of their divorce and wanted the public to know her side of the story. The headlines screamed scandal, revealing a side of Harvey that fans had never imagined.
The juicy details hinted at a tumultuous reality far removed from the family-friendly charm he projected, leaving the public to wonder what other secrets lay hidden beneath the surface of his seemingly perfect life.
Mary Accused Steve of Torture and Owing Her $50 Million
Just when Steve was really basking in Hollywood fame and success, his past lover came out of the shadows to call him out. Mary, his second ex-wife, and mother of his son Wynton Harvey, wanted revenge. She wanted the world to know what she had been through with Steve and was publicly sharing what had happened between them. The sides that no one knew about except the two of them.
She accused the comedian of child endangerment to torture and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mary claimed her life had been shattered post-divorce and that Harvey still owed her a $50 million settlement from their divorce.
Steve Denies Rumors and Remains Unfazed by Allegations
The explosive revelations shattered the illusion of Harvey's family-friendly persona, leaving the public grappling with the darker side of his personal history. But Steve adamantly denied all the allegations. After pursuing a lawsuit, Mary lost, and Steve moved on with his life. However, another dark side of him came to the surface: his sneaky habit of cheating. He had done it in past relationships, so people speculated that he was once again hiding infidelity.
Despite the rumors of him cheating on his third wife, Marjorie, they publically admitted nothing could split them up. Could he have finally kicked his dirty little habit to the curb?
Parting Ways With Comedy
In an unexpected twist, Steve Harvey said his final goodbye to stand-up comedy in August 2012 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Concluding a remarkable 27-year career in laughter, he decided to hang up his comedic hat amidst personal challenges. However, rather than fading away, Harvey redirected his focus towards a new chapter. He continued to host on TV and the radio and even embraced philanthropy by channeling his efforts into the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation.
This marked not only an exit from the comedic limelight but also a deliberate shift towards making a meaningful impact through youth outreach services and mentoring.
Trying to Be a Serious Man Who Makes up for His Past Mistakes
More recently, Steve's career has extended beyond the laughter, delving into a serious commitment to uplifting others. Beyond the stage lights, he emphasizes using his influence to steer individuals toward success, a path he personally yearned for. In his seven-child blended family, Harvey ensures each child receives a college education. He's admitted that he regrets not finishing his higher education and thinks it is essential for each of his children to receive one.
Though he tries to make up for past mistakes and be a good father, his career has not been free of mistakes. He may have strayed away from comedy and towards hosting gigs, but he still has had his fair share of controversies.
Announcing the Wrong Miss Universe
In 2015, Steve Harvey's comedic reputation took a backseat to a high-profile blunder during the Miss Universe pageant. Live on TV, he mistakenly crowned Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner when, in fact, Miss Philippines, Pia Alonso Wurtzbach, held the title. People were stunned and blamed him for his carelessness in making such a huge mistake. However, he claimed the mistake happened because of a teleprompter glitch, though the fiasco had already made global headlines.
In a candid interview, he admitted it was "the worst week of my life." He may have had a successful career until now, but he wasn't immune to public missteps.
Behind Closed Doors, Steve Wasn't That Friendly
Steve Harvey faced scrutiny not just for his 2015 Miss Universe blunder but also for an unexpected 2017 memo to his talk show staff. The memo he wrote instructed employees not to approach him in his dressing room or the hallway. This was standoffish and rude compared to the friendly, likable TV persona he had always had. He tried to address it and share his reasoning for writing the memo, but the damage was done.
He insisted his employees were taking advantage of him and constantly approaching him while he was trying to work; therefore, he needed that rule. But people were already turned off by his seemingly fake persona.
Everything Was Going Perfect Until It Wasn't
In the face of setbacks, Steve kept pushing through, hoping his reputation wasn't completely ruined. By 2016, he penned another book with the release of Leap: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve Your Life of Abundance. Simultaneously, he stepped into new hosting roles, breathing life into the revival of Showtime at the Apollo and Little Big Shots. Despite all the controversies, sacrifices, and mistakes he made along the way, he was still going strong.
But as soon as things were too good to be true, reality slapped him in the face. What could he have done now?
Steve Messed up at the Miss Universe Pageant Again
Just when he thought things were going great in life, something huge happened. In 2018, Steve received a call about his talk show Steve, and they had some major heartbreaking news. His network wanted to replace his show with Kelly Clarkson's talk show. The final episode aired in 2019, and he was devastated. But that same year, he was given a way to redeem himself. He was invited to host Miss Universe again. But could he do it without messing up?
But once again, he congratulated the wrong contestant at the second Miss Universe he hosted. Steve called Miss Paraguay "Miss Portugal" at the contest. He immediately called out the teleprompters for having the wrong information and said it wasn't his mistake.
Resilience Beyond Controversies
Steve Harvey's climb from homelessness to media mogul not only defines his journey but also showcases his unwavering determination to overcome controversies. Despite a happy family life and thriving TV career, Harvey remains driven by a fear of returning to how he once lived. Homeless, living in his car and paycheck to paycheck. But his hustle, evident in multiple TV successes and a bustling schedule, is a deliberate strategy to avoid falling back into that lifestyle.
Past mistakes may somewhat taint his public image, and he may be scared of losing his millions, but he's adamant about working hard so he never has to struggle financially again. He's shared, "I'm running from homelessness. If my show gets canceled, I've got three more."
His Life Has Been Full of Ups and Downs
Steve Harvey's journey from the tough '80s comedy circuit to Hollywood fame has been a rollercoaster. Now a prominent figure in daytime television, his story is a mix of successes, public slip-ups, and some scandalous dating tales. Everything we've found out about Steve doesn't quite match the family-friendly image he projects. Behind that polished exterior is a real, messy, and sometimes controversial past that most of us never knew about.
Who knew Steve Harvey's journey was more nuanced than we thought? His life is more complicated and authentic than the persona he usually puts out there.