Always honest. Kathy Griffin has been open about the highs and lows of her life.
Born in November 1960, Griffin grew up in Illinois before moving to Los Angeles in 1978. She joined the famous improv troupe The Groundlings before starting her stand-up career in the 1990s. Of course, most fans have seen her on TV as she starred on sitcoms, including Suddenly Susan and Caroline in the City, before launching her Bravo reality show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, which aired from 2005 to 2010. Amid her success, Griffin has also dealt with personal and professional stress.
The comedian spoke out about her complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in April 2023 via TikTok. “They call it an extreme case,” she told viewers at the time. “If any of you know my story, you’ll understand that this really started for me about five and a half years ago. Wink. You know, the cancer didn’t help.”
She shared the video less than two years after she first disclosed her stage 1 lung cancer diagnosis in August 2021. Griffin underwent surgery to remove part of her lung and announced she was cancer-free the following November.
Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Griffin sparked outrage in May 2017 when she posed for photographer Tyler Shields holding a model of then-President Donald J. Trump‘s bloody, severed head. The backlash was swift with Trump responding, “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
The Emmy Award winner apologized for her actions at the time. “I sincerely apologize,” Griffin said in a video shared via social media. “I’m a comic. I cross the line. I move the line then I cross it. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career, I will continue. I ask your forgiveness. Taking down the image. I’m going to ask the photographer to take down the image and I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far. I made a big mistake and I was wrong.”
Griffin later retracted her apology, saying that she stands by the image.
The actress quickly started losing business deals. CNN ended her contract to appear on their New Year’s Eve program with Anderson Cooper, her comedy tour was canceled and she was even placed on the no-fly list temporarily.
After Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story hit theaters in 2019, it seemed her career was on the path to a comeback. However, Griffin’s personal life suffered with the death of her mother, Maggie, at age 99 in March 2020 and her lung cancer diagnosis the following year.
While opening up about her PTSD, Griffin asked TikTok followers for tips on how they personally cope with anxiety and depression. “Never talked about this publicly,” she wrote in the caption of her April 2023 video. “I have lots of tools, but it is extremely intense. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. If you’re someone who also deals with this, I am sending you lots and lots of #love.”
Days later, The New York Times bestselling author revealed that she recently suffered an eight-hour panic attack. “Eight hours of freaking writhing in pain in the bed,” Griffin said. “I felt like one might be coming on, so I started to feel a little iffy. So I’m on my walk now … which is helpful.”
Scroll down to see Griffin’s ups and downs over the years: