When Leah Remini’s father George needed $1,500 for a biopsy in 2001, he reached out to the Hollywood actress—then raking in millions per year—for an emergency loan to cover the lifesaving procedure.
“I said, ‘Leah, could you do this for me?’” George later recalled. “‘You know, it’s—it’s serious. It’s a biopsy for cancer,’” adding his daughter replied she would take care of it.
Eager to get the biopsy performed, George quickly made an appointment. But when he arrived, he was told no payment had been made. Embarrassed and shaken, he called Leah who then informed him she did not want to give out her credit card number.
“You’re talking about my life here for $1,500,” he pleaded, suggesting a money order instead. But after hearing excuse after excuse, the frustrated Remini finally told his daughter, “Alright, drop it. Forget it.”
“Leah never did it,” George sadly recounted, detailing how the setback added nearly a year and he required 14 hours of surgery to remove what was discovered to be a cancerous tumor.
Leah and her husband, Angelo, then showed up at the hospital in New York to see him. George said, “‘It’s nice to see you,’ but still in my heart I am saying, ‘I shouldn’t have been here. I should have been able to do it [a year ago]’….$1,500 is a pair of shoes for her.”
As if that heartless reaction to her ailing father was not enough, Leah followed up with an even more shocking response. While he stressed over his cancer scare, she sent him a single-page letter in which she declared he was a bad father and criticized him for his lack of “loyalty,” claiming her bitterness toward him developed because he had “not kept his word to his family” on a planned visit to her in Los Angeles.
“In my opinion dad, you’ve gotten away with not doing a whole lot to be part of our lives,” she wrote, referring to herself and her older sister, Nicole. “When you really needed me, I was there.” Her final words: “I see no reason to continue this relationship.”
George’s seven-page reply minced no words. “I see by your letter you really learned a lot about dealing with internal issues,” he sarcastically pointed out. “Don’t talk to the person, accuse, blame, accept no responsibility, cut and run,” he wrote. “Let me say something. You’re doing exactly what you say I do.”
George reminded her that she had not kept her word on the loan for the cancer biopsy. “And Leah, this is not about money,” he wrote. “It’s just that you talk about family, right/wrong but when it comes to other people you’re always there, but when we have a problem you can’t or won’t help.”
He reiterated that it’s her money, her life and he had no right to question what she does. “But don’t tell me you’re there for me,” he stated, while detailing remembrances of parenting Leah and her sister during their childhood, before their mother took the children and moved away to Florida and later to California while the girls were teenagers.
“And all the other times when you were sick, sad, mad, hospitals, doctors and all the other things that dads do—bikes, skates, beaches, TV, movies, Nelly Bly [Park], Coney Island, Nathan’s [hot dog franchise],” he wrote. “I know you don’t remember (selective memory). That’s OK, I remember! But also remember you both chose to move away from me in more ways than one.”
“Please believe me when I tell you we don’t need or expect money or lavish gifts from you,” he continued, “just some respect and your love. And nobody’s perfect and I did try and lead by example. We just never stayed friends or family for very long. Your letter proves it.”
Those dueling letters ushered in a nearly two-decade estrangement that was only made worse when Leah published her memoir in 2015. When he read the book, George was outraged.
“Besides calling me a pimp in her book—her mother’s ‘pimp,’” he shot back, “she said I was a gangster. And I was a coke dealer. You know, and beating [Leah’s sister] Nicole—I would never beat my kids.
“And when I read all this, it hurt me—a lot. How could my daughter say these things about me?”
Leah’s public smear of George prompted him and his wife Dana to refute the scandalous accusations. Together they posted numerous YouTube video clips, still available online today.
— GEORGE REMINI
In one, George recalled a trip he and Dana made to Los Angeles around 2005 to visit Leah. “She wanted us to sign a nondisclosure form. So I was like, ‘What? I’m your father. What am I going to tell people?’ You know, I kept quiet about everything. You know, now, today, it’s got to come out, got to come out.”
Among the most hurtful experiences George recalled was how Leah treated his mother as she lay dying in 2006. Rather than going herself, Leah sent Nicole to their grandmother’s apartment to collect all her valuables, leaving George with nothing—not even his own childhood pictures. “I just can’t understand it,” said George. “She was brought up to respect the people that you know and love. She didn’t even come to my mother’s funeral. Or my father’s funeral.”
“I tried to reach out to Leah, many, many, many times,” he said, recalling instances where Leah’s mother would pass the message that Leah was not available. “‘Oh, no, she’s setting the table. She’s busy.’ ‘Oh, she’s out by the pool laying down.’…You know, and it would just go on like that. Till finally [I] said, ‘What am I doing here? I’m the father. I’m calling you.’
“I always had a lot of hope that one day she’ll hit her head or something and wake up and say, ‘You know, I have a dad. I want to be in touch with him. I want to talk to him.’”
The last time George saw Leah did not end on a happy note. It occurred when Leah was involved in her family reality TV series in 2014.
“She called me up and she says, ‘Oh Dad, I’m going to be in Brooklyn. I want you to come to a filming and a dinner.’”
George said he would bring his wife, Dana, and Leah told him, “No,” it was to be just family. “‘Just family,’ right,” George added. “She’s not ‘family.’ So, I said, ‘No, I’m not going.’”
In the end, Leah relented and George went—with his wife. George quickly realized his daughter had reached out to him only to gather film for her TV show. It was not for love.
“She used us,” said Dana, “and we never heard from her again.”
George Remini died in August 2019. According to Leah’s Facebook page she learned of his passing a month later.
In a post, she blamed her father for their estrangement and lamented only that, “He was not able to redeem himself, to ask for forgiveness for his failures and hurts, to become a better man….”
But Leah still was not finished tarnishing her father’s reputation. Proving what he had accurately stated about his daughter, she continued her pattern of accusing others of what she herself was guilty. In an August 2020 podcast, she proclaimed, “My father was a narcissist, an egomaniac. I mean, my dad probably had mental problems.”
Such an attack would not have surprised George Remini. He had poignantly described her behavior in his letter to Leah nearly 20 years earlier.
“Please don’t make me laugh,” he wrote. “You were always for yourself and you still are….You are still the same person you were in Brooklyn. Except you have money and some fame [but] you’re still a self-centered bitch. Everyone around you knows that but because their survival depends on you they really don’t say what’s really on their mind.”
George Remini, 1947–2019, did not have that problem.