NEW YORK -- Bryant Gumbel shocked a television audience with
the news that he's recovering from cancer surgery and treatment.
The former "Today" show anchor, 61, said a malignant tumor and
part of his lung were removed two months ago. He revealed his
condition to Kelly Ripa while subbing for Regis Philbin on
Tuesday's edition of "Live With Regis and Kelly." (Philbin
recently had hip replacement surgery.)
"It's nothing to hide from," Gumbel said. "They opened up my
chest, they took out a malignant tumor, they took out part of my
lung and they took out some other goodies."
Even with the surgery, some aggressive cancer cells had escaped,
"so I went through some treatment and it's done now," he said.
The tumor was not in Gumbel's lung, but next to it, said Sean
Cassidy, a friend of Gumbel's and president of DKC, a New York
public relations firm. Gumbel is not a smoker, he said.
Gumbel said he and his wife, Hilary Quinlan, had wanted to keep
the news private. He said he had even kept his staff at the HBO
sports newsmagazine "Real Sports" in the dark. HBO said Gumbel
didn't miss an episode, taping shows on both Sept. 15 and Oct. 27.
"We hope," he said. "We HOPE, it's over."
Gumbel was host of "Today" for 15 years, ending in 1997, as
the show became a ratings juggernaut. He worked first with Jane
Pauley, briefly with Deborah Norville, then with Katie Couric. He
moved to CBS for a prime-time newsmagazine. After that did poorly,
he moved back to the mornings, hosting "The Early Show" from
He's receded from the public eye since then, concentrating on
"Real Sports," an Emmy-winning monthly magazine that takes a
newsy look at sports issues.
Until he was called out by Ripa, there's some question about
whether Gumbel's health news would still be under wraps. At the
opening of Tuesday's show, Ripa told Gumbel that "you just made me
The two had been talking backstage and Ripa mentioned that she
wanted to dance with him to accompany a segment with a woman who
dances for exercise. Gumbel demurred, and when Ripa pushed it, he
said he was not allowed to dance. Then he told her the reason, she
Gumbel said he's meeting with his surgeon and oncologist next
week and hopes to be cleared to play golf.