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Sunday, February 25, 2024

‘Walking Dead’ actress Alicia Witt reflects on overcoming health struggles and personal tragedy

Alicia Witt shared that performing on “The Masked Singer” was more emotional than she “could have possibly imagined.”

The 47-year-old actress and musician was eliminated from the FOX reality competition television series on Wednesday night after being unmasked as Dandelion. 

The “Twin Peaks” alum’s appearance on the show came after a painful and challenging year in which she fought breast cancer, underwent reconstruction surgery and coped with the unexpected loss of her parents, who were found dead in their home in December 2021.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Witt opened up about how she believed her late parents had a role in helping her get the opportunity and were there with her along the way.

“I believe they had everything to do with the timing of getting the invitation to appear on the show,” the “Younger” singer said.

Alicia Witt opened up about how she believes her late parents had a hand in helping her get the opportunity to perform on "The Masked Singer."

Alicia Witt opened up about how she believes her late parents had a hand in helping her get the opportunity to perform on “The Masked Singer.” (Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.)

She continued, “I was coming out of breast reconstruction. The anesthesia was wearing off, and I was in the facility having just woken up from it, looking over my emails, groggily getting back to my friends wondering how I had done.”


“And there’s the invitation to appear on ‘The Masked Singer.’ I think my parents had to do with the synchronicity of that. They’re helping me through the other side of this.”

Witt was the 14th contestant to be eliminated in the show’s ninth season, which premiered in February. She told Fox News Digital that she became emotional as she thought of her parents before taking the stage for the first time.

“I knew that they would have really enjoyed watching these performances, and it made me tear up to have that thought,” she recalled. “But then it was immediately followed by the thought that they are definitely watching these performances. They were there with me. They were there with me as I performed them.”

Witt added, “Rather than thinking, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, they won’t get to see this.’ I think they not only are seeing it, but they have everything to do with the fact – the fact of the timing of it helped remind me that they are there every step of the way.”

Witt's parents died in their home in December 2021.

Witt’s parents died in their home in December 2021. (Alicia Witt Instagram)

The actress’ parents Robert Witt, 87, and Diane Witt, 75, died of exposure to the cold in their Worcester, Massachusetts, home, according to the state medical examiner’s office. Their cause of death was cited as “probable cardiac dysrhythmia” due to the cold. Police found the couple on Dec. 20 after Witt asked a relative to check on them when she hadn’t heard from them in several days. Officers stated at the time that the heating system was not working.

In an Instagram post she shared in February 2022, Witt wrote that she had repeatedly offered her parents help, but they always strongly refused. She described them as “fiercely stubborn” and said she was completely unaware they were without heat.

At the time, Witt has said she was just beginning her treatments for breast cancer. She first revealed her diagnosis in June 2022 after completing chemotherapy and undergoing a unilateral mastectomy.

The actress said she believed her parents were with her on her "The Masked Singer" journey "every step of the way."

The actress said she believed her parents were with her on her “The Masked Singer” journey “every step of the way.” (Alicia Witt Instagram)

The songstress told Fox News Digital that competing on “The Masked Singer” following her health struggles and personal tragedies was a “profound” experience.

“It was so profound to me, way beyond just the fun and the kookiness of getting to sing under a mask like that,” she said. “As somebody that’s loved connecting to people through a song and through a voice – and this is why I’ve been making my own music and getting out there and doing that for the last 15 years or so – but I’ve never had the experience of connecting to somebody through a song without them being able to see who I am.”


She continued, “And it’s a whole different thing. It’s more emotional than I ever could have imagined. I was very tearful at the end of both of my performances because it’s like, whatever, whoever you are, we have a persona, whether you recognize somebody from something they’ve acted in or not. But for me, because that’s been a part of my life it was especially meaningful to be able to sing from behind something that afforded me total anonymity.”

Eliminated Masked Singer contestant Alicia Witt describes her profound experience on the show Video

“And then to have the reaction that it did, to have the panelists guessing that I was the singers who have been doing that for their whole life. Singers I’ve always looked up to. It still makes me cry. And it was very special for me.”

“The Walking Dead” actress went on to recall some of the most meaningful guesses that panelists, including Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke, and viewers made about her identity before she was unmasked.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when Robin guessed Sarah McLachlan after the first performance after ‘Over the Rainbow,’’’ she said. “I was full on crying under that mask. Just couldn’t believe a professional singer would guess that I was Sarah McLachlan.”

She continued, “Then last night’s episode, Sara Bareilles, who I have thought when people ask me who my music is like, I think, well, in best case scenario, I would want a fan of Sara Bareilles to enjoy my music, too.”

"The Walking Dead" star was the 14th contestant to be eliminated in the show's ninth season.

“The Walking Dead” star was the 14th contestant to be eliminated in the show’s ninth season. (Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.)

“But to me, she’s just the ultimate piano driven singer-songwriter. I couldn’t admire her any more than I do. To be compared to her by Robin Thicke. I mean, there’s really no words.”

Witt said she was also amazed by some of the audience’s guesses, one of which was Vanessa Williams.

“What a blessing for me to have that. To have that going forward in my life,” she said.

The Massachusetts native admitted that her elaborate Dandelion headdress was “heavy.” “I saw it sitting there on the table and I thought, wait, at night I’m balancing the whole thing on my head? They just have to kind of clip it into place, and you have to stay very straight, so you don’t go over like Lucille Ball in that episode where she’s on the banister as a showgirl,” she remembered with a laugh.

Alicia Witt explains how her painful and challenging year inspired her new song Witness Video

Witt released her new single “Witness” and its accompanying music video earlier in the week. She told Fox News Digital that the song was inspired by the hardships she had endured over the past year and how she was able to get through them.


“I’m singing about having come through the other side of a chapter that I think… if somebody would have said to me, ‘OK, in a few weeks, you are going to experience not one, but several unimaginably hard things. And they’re all going to happen at once and people are going to know about it.'”

Earlier in the week, Witt released her new single "Witness."

Earlier in the week, Witt released her new single “Witness.” (Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.)

She continued, “One thing, I was not given a choice in the matter about people knowing about it. And the other thing was that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I knew, even as I was going through it, that I wanted to share.”


“The horror and the terror and all the things I felt upon getting that phone call. I wanted to help the women out there who get that phone call to think of people who came out the other side and to know they’re not alone,” Witt added. 

“In the same way that Katie Couric and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have done this past year. There’s power in sharing that story. When thanks to God, I did come out the other side and got the all clear, I knew I was going to tell that story.”

“But while I was in the thick of it, that line, ‘Will you be my witness’ kept coming up. It’s a love song also to those who are closest, closest to me. Who walked side by side with me as I went through all of it. Who know the full story. And they are forever my witness to what I went through. So this is an anthem dedicated to anyone who’s gone through that and to their witnesses. We are all together in this.”

Witt’s single “Witness” is out now.


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