Fifteen thousand dollars. That may be considered as an unusually high price to pay for an English Bulldog by even the most ardent of animal lovers. At most, English Bulldogs have been priced at twenty-two hundred dollars. However, if you are the Emmy Award-winning talk show host, Montel Williams, you have yourself a fifteen thousand dollar English Bulldog.
At the Eleventh Annual Race to Erase MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Benefit in Los Angeles in May of this year, an eight-week-old English Bulldog was up for auction, and Montel topped the bid. While the bidding was stiff and “half of the Hollywood elite present wanted him,” Montel proudly stated, “I was the lucky one.” When asked whether breed was the underlying factor in Montel’s decision to adopt his new best friend, Montel said, “As an animal lover, it was more about Buddy [the bulldog] than the breed that had me sold, although I will admit I’ve always thought English Bulldogs were tough looking yet cute and irresistible at the same time.”
As adorable as the English Bulldog pup is, Buddy’s high price tag required some justification. “$15,000—it was a win-win situation. I donated money to MS research and brought home a new friend!” Montel exclaimed. In 1999, Montel was diagnosed with MS, a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system. Although Montel believes he has been struggling with the disease for twenty years, he has said in recent years that he experiences pain everyday, which ranges from the physical to the mental. The pain can be unbearable as Montel has made two attempts to take his own life. This is hard to believe considering his outstanding credentials as an Emmy Award-winning talk show host, established writer, occasional actor, and former Marine and Naval Academy graduate. But he would not let the disease defeat him. In 2000, Montel founded The Montel Williams MS Foundation to support awareness and research.
Montel Williams is best known for The Montel Williams Show, in which he won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1996. This coupled with his military achievements are most notable, but it wasn’t until Montel was diagnosed with MS that his life of achievement really took off. Although Montel thought that his life would be over when he heard the diagnosis, the opposite came true. After more than a decade on the air, Montel is—as he said—“celebrating the 14th successful year of The Montel [Williams] Show,” which first aired in 1991. The show was nominated for two Emmy Awards in 2002, and one in 2001. In 2002, Montel appeared in ten episodes of All My Children and one episode of The Sopranos. In 2002, Montel was an Olympic Torch Bearer for the Winter Olympics. He has had a hand in the creation of at least five books and in 2000, created his own publishing imprint, Mountain Movers Press.
Since the early 1990s, Montel has worked with the Humane Society of the United States and has hosted some of their events. In 1998, he received a Humane Achievement Award from the Performing Animal Welfare Society. Then, in 1999, Montel received a Genesis Award for hosting a show on the connection between animal cruelty
and human violence. Montel, also known to speak out against the testing of animals for medical research, recently said, “I have been and will continue to be an advocate for animal welfare. Animals deserve to be treated fairly and with kindness. There is a famous saying I believe in, ‘In the end, we are all judged by the way we have treated those who are less than us.’ This is not to say that animals are less than us, however. We hold their future in our hands.”
Buddy, “as cliché as [the name] may sound,” is Montel’s “new best friend and closest,” as Montel noted. “After a long hard day of work,” Montel said, “it’s nice to come home to him and his unconditional love.”