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Chris Harrison and wife Gwen Harrison attend the Entertainment Tonight Emmy Party sponsored by People magazine, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009 in Los Angeles. - Provided courtesy of AP / Shea Walsh

Chris Harrison, host of 'The Bachelor,' splits from wife of 18 years

05/03/2012 by Olivia Allin

Chris Harrison, host of "The Bachelor" franchise, has announced his separation from his wife of 18 years, Gwen Jones.

"Though we have made this incredibly difficult decision to separate, our love and mutual respect remain, and we look forward to sharing in the lives of our wonderful children," the couple told People magazine in a joint statement.

The 40-year-old host of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" and Gwen have two sons - Joshua, 9, and Taylor, 7. Harrison has been with Gwen, his college sweetheart, since he was 18 years old.

In February 2010, Harrison was accused onscreen of hitting on a producer's wife, by contestant Rozlyn Papa during Jake Pavelka's episode of "The Bachelor: The Women Tell All."

Harrison denied the accusation, telling People, "I had nothing to hide... my wife was there."

Harrison is set to host the new season of "The Bachelorette," which stars Emily Maynard, who accepted Brad Womack's marriage proposal on season 15 of "The Bachelor." Maynard and Womack split in the summer of 2011.

Maynard, 25, will be the first single mother to appear on "The Bachelorette." She is the mother of Josephine Riddick "Ricki" Hendrick, 6. Maynard was pregnant with her daughter at the time her fiancé and famed NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick died in a plane crash in October 2004.

"It's an absolute home run - she was such a viewer favorite and she's so beloved and I just think she'll be a fantastic 'Bachelorette' and she's going to kind of push the envelope again for the show," Harrison told WABC Television, the sister station of OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, KABC in January. "She will make decisions for her and her daughter Ricki and the guys will have to approach this differently, so it's going to be a very different show, which I love."

The eighth season of "The Bachelorette," which stars Emily Maynard is set to premiere on May 14 on ABC.

OnTheRedCarpet.com, KABC Television, WABC Television and the ABC Television Network are owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Check out Chris Harrison's interview with WABC about "The Bachelorette" below.

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