Nine years after Martin Short lost his wife, Nancy Dolman, to ovarian cancer, the Saturday Night Live actor opened up about how he copes with the tragedy. “Our marriage was a triumph,” Short, 68, told AARP magazine. Before her death in 2010, the couple were married for 30 years.
“It’s tough,” he added, noting that he tries to maintain a positive outlook. “I still communicate with her all the time. It’s ‘Hey, Nan,’ you know?”
The Hairspray Live star said he tries to think about how she would react to decisions he makes “especially” when it comes to their three children together, Katherine, 35, Oliver, 32, and Henry, 29.
He also knows that she’s watching over her family. “I believe that when people die, they zoom into the people that love them,” the Canadian comedian said. “This idea that it just ends, and don’t speak of them — that’s wrong. That’s based on denial that we’re all going to die. So to me, she’s still here.”
Short even says he sees a silver lining to her death. Losing her “emboldened me to take risks,” he revealed. “With real tragedy, you become a little more daring. It’s the yin to the yang: the positive part of life’s dark side.”
During an appearance on the Today show in 2012, host Kathie Lee Gifford mistakenly asked Short how many years he and Dolman had been married, not realizing she had lost her battle with cancer two years prior. To avoid an awkward moment on air, Short answered Gifford. “We … married 36 years,” he said. “Madly in love. Madly in love.”
Short corrected Gifford during a commercial break, and she apologized later in the show. “Martin just told me as he was leaving, he said ‘Kathie, you probably didn’t know,’ but his beautiful, precious wife Nancy did pass away a year and a half ago of ovarian cancer,” the host said at the time. “I feel so badly.”