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Dr. Phil Has Doubled Down On His Seriously Controversial 2016 Interview With Shelley Duvall After He Was Accused Of Exploiting Her Mental Health Issues
Dr. Phil episode “A Hollywood Star's Descent Into Mental Illness: Saving The Shining's Shelley Duvall” was branded “appallingly cruel” and “shameful” when it aired.by Stephanie Soteriou
Shelley Duvall is a Hollywood icon who rose to prominence in the 1980s thanks to her breakout roles in movies such as Popeye and The Shining.
Archive Photos / Getty Images
She relocated to Texas in the mid-1990s, and in 2002 she retired from acting following her appearance in Manna From Heaven.
Betty Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Shelley completely disappeared from the spotlight after that, with fans being left at a loss to her whereabouts as even journalists struggled to track her down.
Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
But in November 2016, the actor was on our screens once again for a controversial hour-long episode of Dr Phil.
This episode was called “A Hollywood Star's Descent Into Mental Illness: Saving The Shining's Shelley Duvall,” and the promo video for it was even more troubling.
In a 30-second trailer ahead of the episode’s air, Shelley was filmed divulging her paranoid thoughts to host Phil McGraw, which included her belief that she has a “whirring disc” inside of her and that she is being threatened by “the sheriff of Nottingham.”
She also insisted that her Popeye costar Robin Williams, who passed away in 2014, was still alive as a shape-shifter.
Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
At one point, Shelley looked directly at Phil and said: “I’m very sick, I need help.”
The full episode made for uncomfortable viewing, and the consensus at the time was that Dr. Phil had exploited an incredibly vulnerable person for TV ratings.
To make things even worse, the episode didn’t even end with Shelley getting the help that she needed. While Phil initially claimed that the best specialists would treat her physical and mental illnesses, he later revealed that she’d left the treatment center after just three days.
“Shelley still refused to take any medications and she would not sign the paperwork required to treat her,” he said in the episode. “She was accompanied by trained professionals and was safely returned to her family and boyfriend at home.”
“We are happy to report that we are now working directly with Shelley’s mother and are providing Shelley treatment from a group of local professionals who, due to her refusal to take medication, will use alternative methods to treat her,” Phil added.
Actor Mia Farrow was among the furious viewers to criticize the show at the time. She tweeted: “There shd be laws to protect mentally ill people from TV talk show predators like @DrPhil who is exploiting Shelly Duvall for his own gain.”
There shd be laws to protect mentally ill people from TV talk show predators like @DrPhil who is exploiting Shelly Duvall for his own gain— Mia Farrow