Southern Charm star Patricia Altschul's longtime butler and confidante Michael Kelcourse has suffered a spinal cord stroke. Altschul's son, Whitney Sudler-Smith, broke the news to Bravo's Daily Dish Tuesday, sharing that the family was "hopeful" he would recover soon following the acute spinal cord infarction, but had suffered "significant" nerve damage during the incident.
"I am sorry to inform you that Michael Kelcourse, affectionately known as 'Michael The Butler', recently suffered an acute spinal cord infarction which is often called a 'spinal cord stroke,'" Sudler-Smith said in a statement. "Although this tragedy has caused significant nerve damage and impairment, with the help of the outstanding physicians at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, we are hopeful Michael will soon recover. Thank you for respecting Michael's privacy during this challenging time."
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Kelcourse has been a fan-favorite personality on Southern Charm since the reality show's first season, serving up cocktails and punchlines to Altschul as the two discussed the happenings around Charleston. Sudler-Smith said in 2018 to The Daily Dish that Kelcourse was "the nicest guy in the world" and "invaluable" to his mom throughout the years.
Kelcourse first came to work for Altschul in 2004 when the Southern Charm socialite was looking for a new butler for her estate in Oyster Bay, New York, two years after the death of husband Arthur Altschul. Told by her interior designer that a woman in the same social circles had passed away, leaving one of her "prized employees" looking for a job, Altschul wrote in her book The Art of Southern Charm that she "moved with indecent speed" to get Kelcourse to come work for her team. "I met with Michael immediately and persuaded him to come work for me, even as he was finishing his responsibilities in the Bostwick household," she wrote.
She added that hiring Kelcourse was the "best thing I could have done," calling him "a consummate professional: smart, skilled, and with impeccable taste" and a "killer" sense of humor as dry as the martinis he makes to perfecting standards. While some have wondered if Altschul and Kelcourse's relationship has ever been more than friendship and employment, the Southern Charm star shut down speculation on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in May 2019. "Honey, this is a professional relationship," she said. "It is between employer and employee and we respect and admire each other. But absolutely not. Certainly not."