Gladys Knight Clarifies Her Comments About Having the 'Same Disease' as Aretha Franklin
By Jennifer Drysdale
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Gladys Knight does not have cancer.
Prior to walking into Aretha Franklin's funeral in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday, Knight seemed to reveal that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same disease that Franklin died from. The "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" singer told local station WDIV that she and Franklin "had the same disease," but according to her rep, that's not the case.
Knight’s publicist, Jay Schwartz, tells ET that the singer "does not have pancreatic cancer. She is healthy."
Knight, herself, later released her own statement, clarifying the reports and stating that she is cancer-free.
"I'd like to clarify that Aretha and I discussed both of us having cancer, mine was stage 1 breast cancer and hers was pancreatic," Knight's statement, issued by Schwartz on her behalf, began. "Due to early detection, I am cancer-free and grateful for that. It is unfortunate that on a day we should be celebrating Aretha's life and massive contribution to our world, a reporter who did not relay accurate information has missed the message. I send my love to the entire Franklin family and my gratitude to them for sharing such an extraordinary person with us."
Franklin was honored with a star-studded Celebration of Life at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple, two weeks after her death on Aug. 16. Her oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute, said the 76-year-old singer's official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.
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In an interview with ET earlier this week, Knight reflected on her and Franklin's similar rise to fame. “We were both little girls, and I say little girls even though, you know, we have, like, three or four years between us, but we had that same road to go and over the years I saw her grow and hopefully she saw me grow,” she said.
According to Knight, she and Franklin spent much of their historic careers together. “It was more like us supporting each other,” she recalled. “We are both blessed enough to be working all the time. So, if we were anywhere near where we were going to be playing, she would just show up. I would show up.”
“I love her and I respect who she was and who she is and all of those kinds of things," Knight added. "She was amazingly blessed. That’s the best way that I can put it.”