‘Hollywood Squares’ host Peter Marshall, 95, recalls his battle with COVID-19: ‘I worried I wouldn’t make it’

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EXCLUSIVE: Peter Marshall is grateful to see another birthday.

The Emmy Award-winning host of “Hollywood Squares” and his wife of 32 years Laurie were both diagnosed with the coronavirus on Jan. 12. In a statement sent to Fox News by Marshall’s spouse, it was revealed that the star was initially treated at home, but later required hospitalization. 

“In mid-January, my wife started feeling dizzy so she went and got tested,” Marshall, 95, recalled to Fox News. “While we were waiting the 48 hours for her results to come back, I knew that we both had it because I realized I felt dizzy too. I took both the rapid test and the 48-hour test. The rapid test said I didn’t have it so we were very relieved, but the 48-hour test came back positive.”

During the first two weeks, the couple was only able to communicate by telephone. And when Laurie was eventually allowed to see her husband, she said “it was clear the diagnosis was grim.” 

Peter Marshall and Laurie Marshall, his wife of 32 years.
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Realizing the hospital staff was “under such strain and resources were in short supply,” Laurie said the family decided to bring the beloved game show host home where he could live out his final days surrounded by family and his animals “rather than die alone in the hospital.” However, Laurie was warned that Marshall wouldn’t be able to survive at home without “the high flow oxygen therapy that the hospital was giving him.” Laurie claimed she was then advised to make final arrangements.

Marshall was discharged on Feb. 12 for what was expected to be a hospice situation.

“From the time I went to the hospital, I worried I wouldn’t make it because of how many people seemed to be dying from it, and given my age, I knew I was at high risk for dying from it,” said Marshall. “Then in the hospital, I continued to decline. I knew I was dying in the hospital. Every time I spoke to my wife, I wondered if it was the last time we’d speak.”

Marshall said he too felt the hospital staff was overwhelmed and claimed he “rarely saw the doctor assigned to my case.”

A statement sent to Fox News revealed Peter Marshall was discharged on February 12 for what was expected to be a hospice situation.
(Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

“At the hospital, I felt I was neglected,” claimed Marshall, who didn’t name the specific medical facility where he was initially treated. 

“I won’t go into specifics, but I was clearly not properly care for,” he alleged. “The medical team my wife found for me once she brought me home is what saved my life. Mind you, I wasn’t so sure that was a good thing. I was in very, very bad physical shape at that point, and didn’t want to linger if I was leaving the world, which seemed to be the case.”

According to Laurie, once Marshall was released from the hospital, his den was transformed into “an intensive care unit.” She enlisted Dr. Eric Mizrahi, as well as patient advocate Prissi Cohen to provide home care.

“Dr. Mizrahi wasn’t convinced it was Peter’s time to die,” said Laurie. “And with the aid of around-the-clock nurses and surrounded by his family, he’s turned a fatal diagnosis into a miraculous recovery.”

Peter Marshall (seen here at ‘The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast’ for Betty White), hosted ‘The Hollywood Squares’ for 15 years. 
(NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

But Marshall’s health battle was far from over.

“I got through the virus pretty easily, but my system was weakened and I contracted pneumonia,” Marshall explained. “That also turned into sepsis. Any one of those three by themselves is enough to kill someone my age. It took a lot of medical expertise to turn that around. Miraculous, to say the least.”

After being bedridden for two months, Marshall, who is still having trouble walking, is focusing on regaining his strength. He is not yet off his oxygen machine.

“Hoping to surmount those two obstacles sooner than later,” he said. “Tired of it all, I have to say… I would just like to be able to walk again to regain my independence.”

As for Laurie, Marshall said she’s “doing great.”

“Just occasional dizziness,” he shared. “We are both wondering when that sort of it will go away! She lost her sense of smell for only a week. I have not recovered that.”

TV personality Peter Marshall holds a cat as he arrives at the Meow Mix Think Like a Cat Game Show Premiere on November 12, 2008, in Los Angeles, California. 
(Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage/Getty Images)

Looking back at the last few months, Marshall said he’s thankful to be at home with his loved ones and animals.

“Being only able to speak on the phone in the hospital was terrible,” he said. “… It was the isolation in the hospital and not having someone make sure I was looked after as a patient – that almost killed me.”

Marshall hosted “The Hollywood Squares” for 15 years. Along the way, he made plenty of pals. On March 30th, Marshall celebrated his 95th birthday by hosting a Zoom birthday party that was attended by Loni Anderson, Sandy Duncan, Ruta Lee, Karen Valentine and Rich Little – just to name a few. During the celebration, the guests watched several rare clips spanning his 80 years in show business. 

Marshall’s albums “Let’s Be Frank,” “Boy Singer” and “No Happy Endings” were also released digitally for the first time. In lieu of gifts, Marshall asked anyone who wanted to commemorate his birthday to make a donation to Actors and Others For Animals, a non-profit based in California that has been helping to spay and neuter pets since 1971.

Mike Richards (left) accepts the Outstanding Game Show award for ‘The Price is Right’ from Peter Marshall onstage during the 45th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 29, 2018, in Pasadena, California.
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“It feels wonderful, of course!” said Marshall about his friends gathering virtually to celebrate his birthday safely. “Very touched by it all.”

Now that the festivities are over, Marshall is thinking about the future and what it holds for him.

“Sure didn’t think I’d be here for this one,” he said. “No male in my family has ever lived past the age of 60. But they died of things that are easily curable these days. [And] my grandkids, they give me hope. They are smart and caring and get things done. I feel our future is in good hands.”

The most common symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue. However, additional symptoms have been identified, such as loss of taste or smell, sore throat, pink eye, vomiting and diarrhea, among others. Compared with the flu or a common cold, COVID-19 symptoms may appear more slowly – between two and 14 days after exposure.

Some people never feel sick or notice any symptoms, even though they’re infected and can still spread it to other people.

For mild symptoms, such as a slight cough or a mild rash, health experts say you may not need to rush to the emergency room. They recommend self-isolating and monitoring your symptoms to see if they become more severe. However, anyone experiencing difficulty breathing or pain or pressure in the chest should seek immediate emergency medical care.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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