Comedian Michael McIntyre says he is 'heartbroken' after his stepmother revealed his father had committed suicide 17 years ago.
Holly Cameron broke the news in a telephone call to the 38-year-old comic, who had always believed his dad, Ray Cameron, had suffered a fatal heart attack.
But she then spoke about the tragedy to a newspaper because of the father-of-two's fame - a decision which has left Michael devastated.
Speaking to the Mail On Sunday , she said: "I told no one the truth. Michael grew up believing his dad went out for a morning walk and suffered a heart attack at the side of the road.
"I didn't think the children needed the burden of growing up under the shadow of a parent committing suicide.
"If Michael hadn't become famous the truth would never have come out.
"But he emailed me and said he would be doing this show and could I help the BBC with information about his daddy.
"I knew the researchers would find the death certificate because it is a matter of public record. I had to come clean."
Michael wrote about his father's death in his 2010 autobiography Life and Laughing.
He wrote: "It destroyed me to think of him on his own, strangers trying to help him.
"The sudden nature of his death was shocking and especially hard to deal with.
"One day I was chatting to him on the phone the next he was gone."
In the book he also told how he received a letter from his father after his death – which he thought was a coincidence at the time.
Recounting the details of the letter –which he has kept in his bedside drawer – he said: "[It says] I believe in you, Michael, always be the best you can be. I'll love you always."
But only recently, Holly told Michael his father hadn't died from natural causes while on a country stroll but shot himself in a Hollywood apartment block in 1993.
He was 55 and had been going through a difficult time in his own career in comedy. His death certificate, freely available in the US, lists cause of death as suicide caused by gunshot wounds.
Holly, 58, said she kept the truth from her late husband's children because she wanted to protect them.
Only she and the police knew the truth for nearly two decades.
She said the first she knew about her husband's death was when the police arrived at her door, and she wanted desperately to protect her children – explaining she acted on instinct.
She said she did not want the burden of a parent's suicide hanging over them.
After the Mail on Sunday article, Michael reportedly said: "I'm heartbroken my stepmother has chosen to share painful and personal information publicly."