Ellen Goltzer had her best friend by her side throughout The Golden Bachelor, even if it wasn’t in the way she hoped. On Thursday night’s “Women Tell All” episode of the spinoff series, Ellen received an epic surprise in the form of her late best friend Roberta Zaktzer’s daughter, Courtney, in the live studio audience.
The touching moment came after Ellen’s turn in the hot seat, when she explained to host Jesse Palmer how, after Roberta’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis, she encouraged her best friend of 60 years to apply for the show.
“When I got back from filming, she was in a semi-coma state and I knew that she was suffering. I knew that she was staying with me so we could share that,” Ellen said of Roberta hanging on in an attempt to watch the show’s premiere with her. “I finally said to her, ‘I don’t want you to suffer anymore. I want you to go. It’s OK. We’re going to watch the show, just from different places, together.'”
Roberta did end up dying before the show premiered, so Ellen “shared it with her daughter and my children.”
“It was a remarkable experience, just to know that she was watching over me, because I miss her,” Ellen said. “I miss her a lot.”
It was with then that Jesse revealed how Ellen’s story touched one person in particular, before pointing out Courtney in the audience. Ellen was quick to run over to her late best friend’s daughter and give her a hug.
“Thank you from my family, from everyone, for showing us what true friendship, love, loyalty, look like,” Courtney told Ellen. “You are beautiful inside and out. You were the best friend she could’ve ever asked for. If anyone deserves to find love and happiness it’s you. You deserve the world.”
Afterward, ET’s Denny Directo spoke to Ellen, who confirmed that she had no idea that Courtney was in the audience.
“First of all, a lot of people said, ‘You knew she was there, right?’ No, I had no idea at all that she was going to be there. She said, ‘As soon as I see you, I’m gonna give you a hug.’ And she said, ‘You didn’t get it then?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t,'” Ellen told ET. “And I saw her, I felt like my family was with me. I felt connected to Roberta.”
In fact, Ellen felt so connected to Roberta that she believes her late pal was watching over the whole spectacle.
“The freakiest thing, there was noises in the ceiling. [I was] so aware of it. It was like, ‘Grrr grrrr.’ Maybe that was a Roberta,” Ellen said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god. It was really freaky. It was a highlight of my whole evening, was seeing Courtney there and having everybody surprise me with that. It was great.”
In a previous interview with ET, Ellen revealed how Roberta would feel about her Golden Bachelor journey.
“She would be so proud of her convincing ability, because she’s so happy right now and proud of me. I think she is, because she knows that I don’t let loose a lot with my emotions and that I really maybe needed to find love again and whatever it was,” she said. “We know each other so well that she knows me better than I know myself, so it was very good advice.”
At “The Women Tell All” taping, Ellen described her experience dating Gerry Turner as one that she’ll “never forget,” adding that it’s been “the time of my life.” It also made her feel that she’s “definitely ready to date again,” perhaps even as The Golden Bachelorette, should such a show be announced.
“I’m really enjoying the moment right now, so I can’t even think about that now,” she said. “I don’t want to jinx it.”