“The Little Couple” is a reality series that aired on TLC, and followed a couple with skeletal dysplasia, Bill Klein and Jennifer Arnold. Bill is 4ft tall (122cm), and Jennifer is 3ft 2ins tall (96cm). The show chronicles their day-to-day activities after they relocated from New York City to Houston, Texas, where they planned to build a customized house and attempt to have children. “The Little Couple” premiered in May 2009 and ran for 14 seasons, concluding in September 2019. During the sixth season of the show, Jennifer announced that she had been diagnosed with cancer, which was also documented in the show. However, given that this happened nearly 10 years ago, fans have been wondering about Jennifer’s life. and whether she still has cancer.
- 1 Who is Jennifer Arnold?
- 2 Jennifer’s Education
- 3 What disease do Jennifer and her husband have?
- 4 How did Jennifer and Bill land the reality series?
- 5 The Cancer Diagnosis
- 6 Does Jennifer still have cancer?
- 7 Who is Jennifer’s husband Bill?
- 8 How did Jennifer meet Bill?
- 9 Jennifer’s favorite moments from the show
- 10 The Pros and Cons of being a reality TV star
- 11 Controversy and Scandals
Who is Jennifer Arnold?
Jennifer Arnold is a TV reality star and a neonatologist ,who gained popularity after starring in “The Little Couple”. She was born under the Zodiac sign Pisces on 10 March 1974, in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA.
Jennifer experienced various health complications at birth, which continued to follow her throughout her childhood and into her teens. While talking to a media outlet, Jennifer shared some information about her birth, saying: ‘My parents were really young, 20 and 21. I came out in a lot of respiratory distress, and was transferred pretty immediately to the (Neonatal Intensive Care) unit at All Children’s.
In order to deal with her health problems, she underwent multiple surgical procedures. Jennifer revealed: ‘My first surgery was a cervical spine fusion because if I fell I could have been paralyzed from the neck down. That surgery was done by Dr. [Steven] Kopits and, interestingly enough, Dr. Ben Carson.’ Throughout her life, Jennifer has undergone over 30 operations.
While she was still a kid, Jennifer moved to central Florida with her family, and her mother found employment at Disney World, which gave Jennifer access to all the attractions it offers. Jennifer said: ‘In Orlando, my mom worked at Disney for 30 years, so I was a Disney brat. I got to go to Disney whenever I wanted’.
Despite her numerous health problems, when it comes to her education, Jennifer is a living example that persistence and determination is the key to success. Unbothered by her small stature, Jennifer dreamt big, went to Bishop Moore Catholic School, and then enrolled at the University of Miami to study Biology and Psychology. After earning her undergraduate degree, she attended the prestigious Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, graduating in 2000. Jennifer then relocated to Pennsylvania, where she attended a Pediatric Residency Program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and received a Master of Science degree in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburg. Quite inspiring!
In an interview with Tampa Bay Times, Jennifer talked about her educational experience, saying: ‘I applied to over 30 schools and only got interviews [with] two — and one of them was because I knew the president of the University of Miami.” The other school that invited Jennifer was obviously Johns Hopkins.
What disease do Jennifer and her husband have?
They have a rare kind of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, Type Strudwick. This sort of dwarfism is an inherited disorder of bone growth, resulting in small stature, skeletal abnormalities, and problems with vision. Additionally, people with such diagnoses as Jennifer and Ben often have to go through numerous orthopedic surgeries during their childhood and teenage years.
How did Jennifer and Bill land the reality series?
Today, there are varieties of reality series that follow various interesting people, ranging from treasure hunters to sister wives to moonshiners. However, given that “The Little Couple” is quite a different sort of reality series, with unusual people presented in the series, many wondered how they became a part of the show.
According to several sources, Jennifer and Bill were approached by producers on numerous occasions for a reality project, and each time they turned them down.
Jennifer disclosed: ‘But, at the time that we were talking about this whole series option, I was shopping in Bed Bath & Beyond, and a little girl who was probably about 7 or 8 came up to me and said, ‘Oh you’re a little person like Little People, Big World.’ Jenny further explained: ‘At that time, you never heard the term little person from someone who didn’t have a little person in their family,’ hinting that people usually use derogatory or insulting descriptors.
After this experience, she changed her mind and decided to “do some good”, and share some light on the daily struggles of a couple diagnosed with dysplasia. They filmed a pilot, the series was picked up, and the rest is history.
The Cancer Diagnosis
As stated, “The Little Couple” followed Bill and Jennifer and their journey to becoming parents. Initially, the couple wanted to try to have their own children, but given their diagnosis, that dream was hindered in many ways.
After several failed attempts, in 2013, Bill and Jennifer opted for adoption, and after adopting a Chinese boy with their own stature whom they named Will, they travelled to India to a daughter, Zoe, but where Jennifer experienced bleeding, hinting that something might be wrong. Talking to media outlets, Jennifer revealed that she contracted cancer as a result of her non-viable pregnancy, saying: ‘The one time I get pregnant, I get cancer.’ Later, it was determined that Jennifer had stage 3 choriocarcinoma, a rare cancer that stemmed from her failed pregnancy; the sickness began in the cells that would normally become placenta.
Considering Jennifer condition, treatment for the cancer was further complicated, and during 2013 and ’14, Jennifer bounced between intensive treatments of chemotherapy, and taking care of her newly adopted children, Zoe and Will. Her doctors talked about the issues surrounding cancer treatments for people with dwarfism: ‘We wanted to avoid surgery in her case, because of her shortened airway and the difficulties she has had in the past with surgery.
But we felt we had no choice. The disease wasn’t responding to chemotherapy, so we had to do this in order to save her life.’
Baffled with the diagnosis, Dr. Diaz-Arrastia reached out to other professionals, but the circumstances of Jennifer’s cancer were highly unique, Dr. Diaz-Arrastia saying: ‘It was a very rare cancer, and even rarer that it was found in a little person… a very rare situation.
It was an intense and continuous battle, Jennifer said: ‘It actually got harder as more time went on. Some weeks were more difficult than others, with different side effects. I had a lot of fatigue and nausea, and some days it just felt like my hands and feet were very heavy.’
Does Jennifer still have cancer?
The road to recovery faced numerous problems, but Jennifer managed to get through it. In 2014, she went into remission, and was closely monitored by her doctors in the following period, as it’s not unusual for cancer to return, often in the 18 months after chemo. Luckily for Jennifer, that wasn’t the case, and today she’s healthy and cancer-free, enjoying her life with her husband and adoptive children.
Who is Jennifer’s husband Bill?
Hailing from New York, Bill Klein is a TV reality star, a businessman and entrepreneur, who rose to popularity after appearing in “The Little Couple”. He graduated from New York University with a degree in biology, then launched his career in sales and marketing. Bill worked in various companies, including Invacare Corporation and Emerge Sales, before in 2011 stepping into entrepreneurial waters, and founding his pet boutique and salon entitled Rocky and Maggie’s, in Houston. In addition to his roles as a salon owner and TV reality personality, Bill co-wrote the book with Jennifer entitled “Life is Short”, which proved to be a huge success, so the couple wrote another motivational book, “Think Big”.
Besides his issues with maintaining physical health, Bill has also had his share of mental struggles, with depression and suicidal thoughts. During his educational journey, he was a victim of bullying, and he ‘reached the deepest pit of depression’, and that brought him to the brink. However, he changed his mental disposition, and tried to use his voice and popularity to motivate and inspire other people in a similar situation.
How did Jennifer meet Bill?
Bill and Jennifer first met when they were kids; they were both at a hospital being treated for dysplasia and other complications stemming from the condition. In an interview, Jen recalled the situation, saying: ‘He remembers coming into my room and thinking that I was really cute, and apparently I shooed him out of the room, and my mom shooed him out of the room because I was, like, vomiting. He was literally cruising the hall in his wheelchair, looking for chicks, and he remembers meeting me.”
Several years later, their path crossed on a professional level, as Jennifer revealed: ‘Then, when we were in college, fast-forward a few years, he shadowed Dr. Kopits the summer after I shadowed him.’ Even though Kopits encouraged the two to spend time together, it seemed that they didn’t click at the time. Fast forward a couple more years, and the two ‘met’ for the third time via an online dating site, and so began dating, proving that third time lucky is a charm! They officially walked down the aisle in 2008.
Jennifer’s favorite moments from the show
One of the good sides of having a reality series is the fact that every celebration and special moment can be cherished and recorded. In an interview, Jennifer talked about her dearest moments from the show, saying: ‘My all-time favorite show was adoption day, when we adopted Will. I talk about it and still get teary-eyed.
Obviously, becoming a mom was something she desired for a long time, and after having a non-viable pregnancy, adoption meant the world to her, she continued: ‘”It’s the most amazing home video. To have it all documented, is just, oh my gosh… it brings me tears.”
The Pros and Cons of being a reality TV star
While most of us dream of attaining celebrity status, like everything in life, popularity is a two-way street, and Jennifer knows this first hand. Reportedly, Jennifer didn’t have many negative experiences, and was glad to share her story regardless of the criticism, saying: ‘The biggest joy from the show is those moments where somebody sends a message or tells us that the show has helped them in some personal way. It’s a really cool thing and makes me feel happy and proud when that happens.’
Wow, 1 million followers. I’m humbled. Thank you friends! #bewell #thankful #humble #momlife #littlecouple #momsofinstagram #doctorsofinstagram #instagram
Talking of cons, Jennifer revealed that the most difficult part is when people stop her while she’s working, and ask for a selfie. Additionally, fan surges at a workplace can be overwhelming, making it hard for Jennifer to concentrate on her work, however, she still manages to find a silver lining in this, saying: ‘It’s a good problem to have. We’re so fortunate to have the following we have.’
Furthermore, given that most of the filming of the series took place at Jennifer and Bill’s home, this meant that fans were able to become familiar with its location, or at least recognize it – Jennifer revealed that this resulted in several fans dropping in at their house unannounced. While most of those experiences were positive, some were shocking, Jen said: ‘I almost gave one lady a heart attack because I went to get the mail, and she was on my doorstep. I opened up the door while she was right there writing her note, and she fell over and all that stuff. We’ve had people come on Christmas Eve, and all sorts of occasions.’
Although Jennifer loves her fans and has no problems conversing with them or taking pictures, she still has some doses of apprehension, Bill revealed: ‘Everyone has been so nice, but when someone knocks on your door, you do wonder if they are well-intended or not, and maybe get a little nervous.’ Also, the couple disclosed that they prefer letters to these unannounced appearances, as they do value their private time.
Controversy and Scandals
While the show is known for having impressive ratings, and achieving popularity among a wide audience, after the seventh season it seemed that “The Little Couple” faced a possible hiatus over some legal battles. Allegedly, there was a dispute between Discovery Communications, the company that runs TLC, and the independent production company LMNO, which produced the series. According to Deadline, the independent company filed a $7 million lawsuit against Discovery Communication aleging embezzlement and falsified records, while Bill and Jennifer got stuck in the middle. The battle continued, but the couple decided that they’d had enough, so they filed papers in a California federal court and asked for “compensatory damages, punitive damages, and emotional-distress damages.’
Eventually, the whole dispute was put to rest, and the two companies came to an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount, resulting in the continuation of the series.
Besides the legal issues, the couple and the show faced serious criticism. While, interestingly, not many people have doubted the show’s authenticity, the series took a heavy blow from a particular fan named August Pritchett, a former student at Armstrong State University.
August claimed that ‘reality shows on modern television that feature such people are not much different than the circus freak shows from a hundred years ago.’ Having a disability herself, August stressed that many TLC shows, including “The Little Couple” and “Little Women of LA”, have a completely false perception of people with disabilities. She also added that they focus on the fact that they are different from ‘normal’ people, and that is the reason why people watch the show.
On the other hand, the vast majority of viewers are grateful for the information included in the series, which is regarded as extremely positive in understanding and welcoming ‘little people’ into the wider community. For once, a reality series with little necessity for scripted inserts, or interference from the producers.