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What happened to Ricki Lake? The sad backstory behind the iconic talk show host.

Content warning: This article deals with mental health and suicide and may be triggering for some readers. 

For more than a decade, Ricki Lake was one of the most recognisable faces on daytime television.

The former Hairspray actress hosted her namesake talk show from 1993 to 2004, and a reincarnated version called The Ricki Lake Show aired for a single season in 2013.

In the years since, she has worked on a 2014 documentary about breast milk as well as 2015 documentary Sweetening the Pill about the contraceptive pill and made a cameo in the 2016 television musical Hairspray Live!

It’s lead to a comparatively lower profile for the actress and host.

This week Lake publicly announced her new relationship with Jeff Scult, the founder of clothing company One Golden Thread.

This relationship announcement is particularly touching – and its timing bittersweet – as it comes two years after Lake lost her ex-husband Christian Evans to suicide.

Lake and jewellery designer Evans began dating in 2010 and married in 2012.

Lake said she felt like “the luckiest girl” with “charismatic”, “funny” Evans.

He was upfront about his bipolar disorder: “He had a lot of self-esteem issues and a lot of demons,” Lake told PEOPLE. “But I understood him, and he was someone that I think a lot of people misunderstood.”

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She said she first experienced one of Evans’ manic episodes in September 2014. At the height of it, he “thought he could fly”.

“He thought he could cure cancer with his hands. It was horrific. He just wasn’t the person I had been with for four years.”

Ricki Lake married Christian Evans in 2012.

The advice of a therapist led to Lake cutting off contact until Evans stabilised. She filed for divorce and Evans was hospitalised under a 5150 hold and entered a treatment centre.

Despite their divorce being finalised in 2015, the couple continued their relationship when he was released from treatment.

"He wasn’t stable, and he was so fragile," Lake said. "But I was still in love with him, so there was something romantic about it. I wanted to save him."

Evans' mania returned in September 2016 and again he moved out.

In February the following year, Lake was away for work in London.

On February 11 she received a text. It was from Evans' sister - he had emailed her a suicide note.

"I knew right then that he was gone," she said. "Everybody thought he was missing, but I knew."

"The struggle was just too much for him. He did the best he could."

At this week's Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour Lake shared that she's found love again with Scult.

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"My husband, who passed away from mental illness and suicide, it'll be two years on February 11," she said. "And I just recently found a brilliant new love."

According to PEOPLE, the pair had been together three and a half months. Lake said she met Scult through a mutual friend and he made her "really happy".

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This is what happy looks like. ❤️

A post shared by Ricki Lake (@rickilake) on

She wasn't always sure she'd find love again, telling PeopleTV's Chatter she had "true, unconditional love [with Evans], so I'd like to have something along those lines again, but I feel like lightning doesn't strike twice."

That was in late October, which would have been just weeks before she met Scult.

Lake started 2019 with more than just a new relationship - she also made a return to TV.

She appeared on new US reality singing competition The Masked Singer, where celebrities sing in full costumes and masks to hide their identity.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, Mamamia urges you to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website

You can also contact the Black Dog InstituteHeadspaceMensLineQ LifeSANE Australia, or Support After Suicide

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