Bob Saget said comedy became his savior during difficult times. One of those was a haunting personal loss that shaped the second half of his life. He discussed it in-depth in his final interview that CBS broadcast Friday. The 65-year-old Full House star was found dead in an Orlando hotel room on Sunday.
CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke with Bob Saget last month about the death of his older sister Gay. She was only 47 when she died in 1994 to the little-known scleroderma. The Mayo Clinic describes it as a painful and incurrable auto-immune disease that attacks the body’s connective tissue.
“It was a three-to-four year process, and she was gone. And I couldn’t bear it,” Saget said. “I can’t get the images of the end of her life out of my head, ever.”
Scleroderma, pronounced sklair-roe-derma, is rare. Only about 300,000 Americans have it, which often means it’s difficult to diagnose. Saget said Gay visited scores of specialists, each coming to different conclusions. All the while, Gay languished in pain.
Bob Saget turned to comedy to help him cope with the loss.
“It was a defense mechanism, and it truly helped me survive,” he said. “It helped keep me mentally alive, rather than letting it destroy me.”
But what at first was a shield, Saget turned into a weapon. He used his stand-up to raise more than $26 million for the Scleroderma Research Foundation, which is working to find a cure. Saget made it his life’s work to help doctors reach that goal.
“My sister should not be dead. And that’s one of the things that has kept me doing this — will keep me doing this until I’m gone,” he said. “I’ll do it when I’m gone.”
John Mayer, Jeff Ross Tearfully Remember Bob Saget
Musician John Mayer and comic Jeff Ross drove to Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday to retrieve Bob Saget’s car. He’d parked it there when he left for his stand-up tour. The pair live-streamed their trip to Mayer’s Instagram and eulogized the comedian.
Ross said Saget was a rare friend that he could call on for anything.
“[Bob] really did take care about everybody,” he said. “… If you need a doctor, if you need a lawyer, if you need a pastrami sandwich at three in the morning because some girl just broke your heart, Bob was that guy.”
Mayer said Saget had “every excuse under the sun to be cynical” or distrusting because of his sister’s death, but he showed everyone love.
“I’ve never known a human being on this earth who could give that much love, individually and completely, to that many people in a way that made each person feel like he was a main character in their life and they were a main character in his life,” the singer said. “Everyone is so aware how universal Bob’s love for people was. The thing that just keeps coming up when people say they’re sorry is just, ‘I loved that guy.'”
It’s still unclear what caused Saget’s death. Police ruled out foul play and drugs, and it appears he may have died in his sleep.