He hosted the messiest show on TV, but behind the scenes Marc Summers was not a fan of all that slime.
The TV host is talking openly about his long and strange career as a new documentary about his life is released, and while he tours the country performing a one-man show about his ups and downs in show business.
He also gives fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the chaos of Nickelodeon's Double Dare, including an explanation for why the show's slime was made from pudding and apple sauce. "The insurance company made us guarantee if any of this got in the kids’ mouths it was edible," he explained. "And it tasted good, and it smelled great."
Summers, who suffered from an intense case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, reveals that whenever he was hit with Double Dare's iconic slime, he would tear off his clothes the moment the cameras were off. At home, he spent hours cleaning every inch of his house, endlessly folding and re-folding his clothes.
Summers says that he would even crawl on the floor to straighten the fringe on his rug, and would read the label on every item in a grocery store aisle.
The TV host was living with OCD while "most people weren’t aware what OCD was." In fact, the first time Summers heard of the disorder was when he was diagnosed on an episode of his own talk show in the '90s. Despite how nerve-wracking the Double Dare set was for him, Summers says, "It was such good TV I didn't care."
But the host reveals TV producers weren't so understanding about his condition. The stigma surrounding his diagnosis hurt Summers's career, including his shot at hosting Hollywood Squares.
That's part of why Summers says he still thinks of himself as "a player on AAA baseball and never quite making the big leagues.”
Sadly, even after overcoming his OCD, Summers faced more setbacks, including two close calls that nearly killed him.
With the negative attention from his OCD diagnosis, Summers was only able to land a gig at the recently started Food Network.
It turned out to be the perfect place for Summers to begin his second act, and he worked as a host and producer for the network while mentoring future stars like Guy Fieri.
Then, in 2009, a sharp pain in his stomach sent Summers to the hospital, where doctors removed almost 18 inches of his small intestine.
“I woke up and, being a stand-up comic, I sort of joked with the doctor, ‘Do I have cancer?’" Summers told People. "And he says, ‘As a matter of fact, you do.’” The host's doctor told him he had just six months to live, and Summers and his family prepared for his death for the next four months. But it turned out to be just an awful misdiagnosis.
Still, after two years of harsh chemotherapy, Summers couldn't catch a break. He was in a taxi when it crashed in 2012, breaking every bone in his face. Summers spent months cooped up in his home while he recovered, and suffered memory loss so severe he couldn't recall the names of his closest friends.
The host says that "the whole story about your life flashes in front of you" is true.
"I called Alice from the cab, and I said, ‘I’m not going to see the kids get married. I’m not going to see our grandchildren. I’m going to be dead,’” he says. “I was a mess. I was confused. I didn’t know what the hell was going on.”
Thankfully, today Summers is healthy, his cancer is in remission, and his career is doing better than ever. He's touring the country, telling his outrageous life story in a one-man show called On Your Marc to sold-out crowds.
He says that his OCD is "80 percent cured," and you can still watch him hosting Food Network shows like Unwrapped. Summers may think he never made it to the big leagues, but clearly his fans disagree.
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