Beth Chapman of reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter has led a truly fascinating life. In fact, what her fans see on her reality TV shows isn’t even the half of it. For one thing, the star and her husband, “Dog,” have had many ups and downs, some of them decidedly controversial. But the TV personality has always come out fighting whatever difficulties she’s found herself engulfed in. However, in September 2017 the world was made aware of a cruel twist in Beth’s life story.
Beth Chapman’s life has seemingly been marked by tragedy. The day before she married Dog, her soon-to-be daughter-in-law Barbara was killed in a car accident. Nonetheless, Dog decided to go ahead with the wedding despite the loss of his child, and the reality TV cameras were on hand to document it.
But right from Dog the Bounty Hunter’s debut in 2004, it was a somewhat divisive program. The show began as a spin-off of Take This Job, which documented people with strange or difficult jobs. But as its success grew, the program became more and more controversial. And Dog’s own checkered past was one issue that was often brought up when the show was discussed.
Dog, whose real name is Duane Lee Chapman, was actually found guilty of first-degree murder in 1976. A drug deal gone wrong led to an alleged dealer being shot dead, and Chapman was subsequently sentenced to five years behind bars. But according to the reality star, it was while he was in prison that he decided he wanted to become a bounty hunter.
It wasn’t just Dog’s prison past that caused controversy, however. Three years after Dog the Bounty Hunter debuted, a phone conversation between Chapman and his son Tucker was leaked. In the recording, the star used a racial slur when talking about the girl Tucker was dating.
It was a huge story at the time and serious enough that A&E decided to take the show off the air. However, with Beth’s help, Dog was eventually able to save the series. “After meeting with [Dog] and his wife, Beth, and hearing his side of the story, we realized that the controversy had unjustly spiraled out of control without context,” Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, subsequently told The New York Sun.
So A&E decided to reinstate the show, and Beth and Dog returned to TV screens. What’s more, Dog the Bounty Hunter continued to be incredibly popular for the next few years. In the process, it spawned all sorts of merchandise and earned the Chapmans a fortune, too. But in 2012 the show was taken off air again, and this time it was for good.
Unlike before, however, a racism controversy wasn’t the cause for the show’s end. The reason was apparently that Beth and Dog wanted to focus their attentions on the bail industry instead. Beth, who is president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, outlined her plans to In Touch in 2016. “Our industry is under attack,” she said. “There are bail reform movements springing up across the country that would end the cash bail systems.”
“For over 12 years we have shown on TV the importance of the bail industry in assisting the criminal justice system,” she continued. “And I have preached about how important it is that bail agents and bounty hunters conduct themselves properly. We made this incredibly tough decision because we feel that without intervention from all of our associations, we will no longer have an industry in which to work.”
But even after the show ended, and a short-lived sequel called Dog and Beth: On the Hunt had also been and gone, the Chapman family continued to make headlines. For example, in 2015 one of Dog’s stepchildren was caught up in a bank robbery, leaving the couple “shocked and heartbroken,” according to a statement that the pair released. Then a year later, Beth was denied entry to the U.K. to film another reality show.
You see, in 2016 Beth had been asked to appear on the British reality game show Celebrity Big Brother. However, the star’s visa was denied due to shoplifting allegations that had previously been leveled against her. She was reportedly very displeased about this turn of events – appearing on the series would have been a big boost to the TV personality’s career, after all.
Unfortunately, though, something much worse than a denied visa was just around the corner. In September 2017 Beth received some awful news. It was the sort of thing that anyone would find difficult to keep to themselves, so the star wrote an open letter to her fans about what had happened; the message was subsequently published on the Radar Online website.
“As most of you know I’ve spent a lifetime facing tests and challenges I didn’t see coming and certainly never expected,” Beth wrote. “I’ve been dealt my share of unexpected blows over the course of my almost 50 years but nothing as serious as the one I heard from my doctors two weeks ago when they uttered those dreaded three words: ‘You have cancer.’”
The star had been diagnosed with throat cancer; a form of the disease that affects the larynx and sadly kills at least 200,000 people around the world every year. “I have what is referred to as a T2 Tumor in my throat that is blocking my breathing,” Beth explained. “My doctors are suggesting immediate treatment and surgery before the disease progresses.”
The star’s letter had a determined tone, though. “To be certain, I’ve stared down the devil more than once in my life, but I’ve never faced a real life or death decision,” she stated. “My life has never been easy, and I surely don’t expect it to start now. Still, I’ve never been a victim, and I won’t let cancer beat me … But I know one thing for sure. A bend in the road is not the end of the road.”
“I will fight every step of the way. My husband and children are counting on me to be there for years to come,” Beth concluded. “I am so very grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who have given me incredible support during this very challenging time.” Her fans, too, offered the star support and prayers on social media.
A little over a week later, website The Blast reported that Beth had undergone surgery to remove a “plum-sized tumor” from her neck. And it sounded like a terrible experience to have to go through. “Sources close to the Chapmans say Dog is very upset and shaken by the ordeal, but the couple is trusting in God and praying for the best,” the article stated.
To make things even more difficult for her, however, Beth’s beloved dog reportedly passed away while she was in California receiving treatment. “As I’ve been begging my doctors and my friends to let me go home my very precious baby died,” the star subsequently wrote on Facebook. “She just waited and waited, but Mommy never came. I’m sick with grief from the loss of my fur baby Delilah.”
Then a few days later, Dog answered questions about Beth’s prognosis on the podcast Dog and Beth: Looking for Trouble. “On a one to ten [scale] her pain is about a nine so… she’s not good,” he said. Chapman also claimed that it hadn’t been Beth’s lifestyle that had led to the diagnosis. “The doctor said she was the most healthiest 49-year-old female he’d seen,” Dog added.
Beth Chapman still has a long fight ahead of her, that much is clear. Cancer is a terrible thing for anybody to have to face. However, Dog says that even though his wife is in a lot of pain “this is not stopping her now.” And that has to be a good sign. “She’s bedridden but she’s up every once in a while,” he said on the podcast. “You just gotta keep going.” Hopefully, then, she will.