The bizarre story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard — one of fraud, mysterious illnesses, fake identities, and ultimately, murder — is one that largely focuses on her and her late mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who was stabbed to death in June 2015. Headlines from the time period point to the ways in which the mother deceived their friends and neighbors for years, and emphasize how Dee Dee had managed to make a life for herself and Gypsy built on a heaping pile of lies. But Gypsy Rose's father seems to be missing in almost all discussion.
Even the inevitable made-for-TV specials have all played on the troubled mother-daughter relationship, with titles like Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO, May 2017), Mother Knows Best: A Story of Munchausen By Proxy and Murder (Dr. Phil, November 2017), and Mother of All Murders (Good Morning America, January 2018).
In Hulu's The Act, a dramatization of the Blanchards' story which dropped the first two episodes on March 20, Gypsy seems to believe that her dad wasn't a great guy. AnnaSophia Robb's Lacey bonds with Joey King's Gypsy early in the series by conceding that she gets it, "I had a bad dad too."
A common question, then, is also a key one: What actually went on with Gypsy’s father? Though friends and neighbors may have assumed he was absent from her life (Gypsy and Dee Dee lived alone in a pink bungalow built by Habitat for Humanity in Springfield, Missouri), it was later revealed that he had actually been in constant touch with Gypsy throughout her childhood — though he, too, was duped by Dee Dee.
According to Buzzfeed's feature on the Blanchards, Rod Blanchard, Gypsy’s father, met Dee Dee back when he was still in high school; he was 17 and she was 24. As the story goes, she became pregnant with Gypsy not long after they met (they only dated for four to six months), and Rod decided that marrying her was the right thing to do. Shortly after Gypsy was born, however, Rod realized that he had made a mistake, and decided to call off the marriage.
“I woke up on my birthday, on my 18th birthday, and realized I wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” he told Buzzfeed back in 2016. “I wasn’t in love with her, really. I knew I got married for the wrong reasons.”
Even so, Rod wanted to maintain a relationship with his daughter, and would therefore call often and even arranged for family outings together. In later years, though, Dee Dee began limiting Rod’s contact with Gypsy, so in-person visits never panned out (“For some reason or another, it would never work out,” he told Buzzfeed). He also sent $1,200 a month in child support to a New Orleans bank account (Dee Dee and Gypsy had relocated after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina). “There was never a question whether or not I was going to stop paying,” he said. According to the Buzzfeed article, he also reportedly bought gifts for Gypsy whenever Dee Dee requested it: TV sets and even a Nintendo Wii.
In reality, he continued to support Dee Dee and Gypsy long after Gypsy had turned 18, knowing that — at least according to Dee Dee — Gypsy required full-time care.
Meanwhile, Dee Dee was telling her neighbors and friends a very different story, that Rod was a deadbeat dad, a drug addict and an alcoholic who had abandoned the two of them when he just couldn’t deal with Gypsy’s many ailments anymore. This lie also helped her explain to authorities why she frequently misspelled her own name or used different aliases, even when it came to medical records; she said she was trying to evade her abusive ex-husband.
In reality, Rod told Buzzfeed, “They don’t understand that I’ve always been supportive.” His second wife, Kristy, added, “In every way.” Dee Dee initially kept Rod updated on their whereabouts and Gypsy’s medical circumstances, but ultimately began to tell him less and less.
“She was always scared that I would get close to Gypsy. It bothered me,” he told Fox News in November 2018. “But I was always hoping that Gypsy would get old enough that one day we could bond. It got hard, it really did. But I didn’t want to push it too far. Dee Dee had full custody and could cut me off completely from any kind of relationship we already had. There was a fine line I had to walk with her.”
Following Dee Dee’s murder in 2015, Gypsy and her then-boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, were charged with first-degree murder. Gypsy was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a plea bargain agreement in July 2015, and Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Rod has since started an online petition to help reduce her sentence in light of the many years of abuse that Gypsy endured. He keeps in touch with his daughter via electronic means while she’s in prison.
“It’s a hundred times better, honestly,” he told Fox News of their relationship. “We email each other. She can call me anytime and she does. I’m keeping tabs on all of her accomplishments in school. She’s getting her GED. … It’s wonderful. I can’t wait for her to get out so we can build on that foundation that we started here.”
So while his name may be missing from the history that many viewers know, Rod Blanchard is actually very much a part of Gypsy's future.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly mischaracterized Gypsy's involvement in her mother's schemes.