Steve Harvey opens up about his love story with Marjorie Harvey
Credit: Photographs by Andrew Hetherington

From homeless to $100 million! Steve Harvey opens up exclusively to PEOPLE about overcoming homelessness to build an entertainment empire. Subscribe now for an inside look at how he finally found happiness with the love of his life!

Steve Harvey has a picture-perfect life – but it hasn’t always been that way.

The comedian ended his first marriage in his late 20s to chase his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian, but he ended up homeless for three years.

“It was crushing,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “I realized, ‘You’re on your own. You have nothing or no one.’ All I knew was that I could make people laugh.”

Harvey landed a high-profile gig performing on Showtime at the Apollo in 1993, but his personal life was still in shambles.

He remarried in 1996 to Mary Shackelford, but realized early on he had made a mistake.

“I got married for the wrong reasons. I was tired of being alone. I have to own that. It was me, not her. But it was bad for a long time,” he says.

Harvey owes his relationship with Marjorie, his third wife, to his longtime bodyguard. The two had briefly dated while Harvey was struggling.

“He told me, ‘Look, the only time I’ve ever seen you happy was when you were with that woman Marjorie. Now before you go and do something stupid and marry another woman, I’m calling her.'”

“When Steve came back into my life, it was effortless,” she says. “I only wish he’d told me what was really going on with him when we were first dating. I told him, ‘I owned my house. Honey, you wouldn’t have been homeless.’ We could have saved so much time.”

For much more on Steve Harvey’s life, pick up the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

The pair wed in 2007 and merged their combined seven children (Steve’s twins with Marjorie, plus sons Broderick, 25, and Wynton, 18, with Mary, and Marjorie’s children from her previous marriage: Morgan, 29, Jason, 24, and Lori, 19).

Reuniting “was a second chance,” Harvey says. “It was like being reborn. I messed up so many times in my life. She made all the difference. When you’re happy at home, you can make a lot of things happen.”

That certainly is true for Harvey, 59, who seems to have it all. His bestselling 2009 book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man has been adapted into a blockbuster film and a sequel. He now hosts a syndicated radio show as well as the game show Family Feud and a popular daytime talk show, The Steve Harvey Show. Most recently he has hosted NBC’s hit variety series Little Big Shots.