Shortly after the Wall Street Journal reported that a source familiar with the Comedy Central show claimed the suspension was due to a Colbert family emergency, the Huffington Post reported that a source who has a business relationship with [The Colbert Report] told them Colbert's 91-year-old mother, Lorna Colbert, is seriously ill.
The same report mentioned an earlier Colbert tragedy: On Sept. 11, 1974, Colbert's father James, along with two of Stephen's brothers, were killed in a plane crash. Stephen Colbert was ten years old at the time.
The comedic politico has rarely spoken about the incident, but it came up in a 2005 New York Times Magazine Q&A with Stephen Colbert, after the reporter -- who was unaware of the incident -- asked The Colbert Report host how he was damaged.
After a reportedly long pause, Colbert answered: I lost several members of my family when I was a child. My father and two of my brothers, the next two up from me. I was 10 years old, and the three of them died in an airplane crash. It was pretty bad.
After the reporter offered her apologies, Colbert said: I don't generally talk about it.
James Cobert was reportedly en route to enroll his sons in a private school in Connecticut.
Colbert spoke about the tragedy again in a 2009 profile with Daniel Schorn for CBS News.
When asked how his life was affected by the tragedy, Colbert said: I know that after they died, nothing, I was 10, you know? I was still in school. It was in elementary school. But nothing seemed that important to me. And so, I had immediately had sort of a, I won't say a cynical detachment from the world.
But I would certainly say I was detached from what was normal behavior of children around me, he continued. It didn't make much sense. None of it seemed very important. And I think that, you know, feeds into a sense that acceptance, or blind acceptance of authority, is not easy for me.
When Schorn suggested that it's common for comedians to turn to humor to learn to cope with painful experiences, Colbert didn't argue - suggesting that his love for his mother Lorna may also have a lot to do with where he is today.
I think I did my best to cheer my mom up, he said.