‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ Star Beth Chapman Dies at 51


Beth Chapman, who starred alongside her husband in the reality show “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and a series of spinoffs that chronicled their lives in the world of bounty hunting, died on Wednesday at 51.

The cause was complications from cancer, according to a statement from WGN America, which was working on a new spinoff at the time of Ms. Chapman’s death.

Ms. Chapman and her husband, Duane Chapman, known as Dog, rose to prominence with the 2004 premiere of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which followed the couple’s unusual family business: tracking down and detaining people in Hawaii and Colorado who had violated the terms of their release from custody.

The show lasted for eight seasons and was followed by a three-season spinoff and a two-hour special on her battle with cancer, which kept Ms. Chapman and her family on TV and in the public eye for well over a decade.

“It’s 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake up to go hike Koko Head mountain,” Mr. Chapman wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning. “Only today, she hiked the stairway to heaven. We all love you, Beth. See you on the other side.”

Ms. Chapman was diagnosed with Stage 2 throat cancer in September 2017, according to an interview she gave The Honolulu Star-Advertiser in January. The cancer returned last November, which led to emergency surgery and what she described as a nationwide search for experimental treatments that sometimes took her far from her home in Hawaii.

“Even though the outlook is grim, I just don’t want to live it like that, you know?” she told The Star-Advertiser in a video interview.

“I don’t want to be that person who lets their children watch them die at their bedside,” she added. “It’s just really out of my character. So for the last four days I have been chasing bad guys on the Big Island and I didn’t even notice that I was sick.”

“Dog the Bounty Hunter” was a game changer for A&E, which previously had been largely known for more high-minded but low-rated arts programming.

The show quickly turned the Chapman family into symbols of the network and a prototype of sorts for reality shows about rough-around-the-edges family businesses, like “Duck Dynasty.” That show premiered on A&E in 2012, the same year the network canceled “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”

But the show’s cancellation did not end the Chapman family’s career as reality stars. “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt, a spinoff of the A&E show, had three seasons on CMT. It followed the family as they traveled the country working with bail bondsmen in different cities.

Ms. Chapman also addressed her experiences living with cancer in a two-hour special on A&E in November 2017, “Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives.”

Ms. Chapman was born Alice Elizabeth Smith in Denver on Oct. 29, 1967. Her father was Garry Smith, who played baseball for the Kansas City Athletics, a major league team that moved to Oakland, Calif., in 1968.

She was 18 when she first met Mr. Chapman. The two dated for 16 years before they married, in 2006, according to a family spokeswoman, Gillian Sheldon.

In addition to her husband, Ms. Chapman is survived by 10 children and stepchildren, “countless” grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, Ms. Sheldon said. Ms. Chapman was predeceased by a stepdaughter.

The family was at work on a second spinoff, “Dog’s Most Wanted,” for WGN America that was in production at the time of Ms. Chapman’s death. The network said this year that the show would debut in 2020.

A spokeswoman for WGN America said on Wednesday that the network did not yet know how her death would affect the show.

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