Bravo Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
The Daily Dish Life After Bravo

Everything to Know About Patricia Altschul's Retired Butler, Michael Kelcourse

Following health issues, Butler Michael left big shoes for the Southern Charm matriarch to fill.

By Casey Suglia & Talia Ergas
What Are All of Butler Michael's Responsibilities?

Fans of Southern Charm know Patricia Altschul as the series matriarch who lives in a fabulous estate and frequently hosts grand dinner parties (with exquisite food and decor to match). Over the years, a key player in helping Patricia maintain her home and prepare for company has been her longtime butler, Michael Kelcourse. But Michael, who served the family for over 18 years, was so much than a butler to Patricia: He was Patricia's right-hand man who always served up witty conversation and incredible cocktails — specifically martinis.

How to Watch

Watch Southern Charm on Peacock and the Bravo App.

"[My job is] not just butlering, which is silver and answering the phone," Michael explained when he stopped by the Southern Charm Season 5 After Show. "It's a little bit of pet care, car care, shopping, assisting, traveling, packing, a little bit of everything." 

Following a spinal cord stroke in February 2021, Michael officially retired from his duties at Patricia's Charleston estate. In Season 9 of Southern Charm, fans watched Patricia and her son, Whitney Sudler-Smith, pursue a new butler for the household: Randy.

However, they keep close in touch with Michael, who appeared in Season 9 via FaceTime before Patricia paid him a personal visit in December

What happened to Michael the butler on Southern Charm?

In February 2021, Southern Charm fans learned some devastating news about Michael. The beloved butler had suffered from an acute spinal cord infarction, which is also known as a spinal cord stroke, The Daily Dish confirmed.

“I am sorry to inform you that Michael Kelcourse, affectionately known as 'Michael The Butler', recently suffered an acute spinal cord infarction which is often called a 'spinal cord stroke.' Although this tragedy has caused significant nerve damage and impairment, with the help of the outstanding physicians at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, we are hopeful Michael will soon recover," Whitney said in a statement to The Daily Dish. "Thank you for respecting Michael’s privacy during this challenging time.”

Fans learned more about the situation in the Season 8 premiere, which aired in June 2022. “I’m still shocked by the whole thing because [Michael] had been with us for 18 years,” Patricia said in the episode. “My longest marriage lasted 15 years, so Michael is the most stable relationship I’ve ever had.”

Split of Patricia Altschul wearing an animal print tunic, and Michael Kelcourse wearing his butler uniform.

How is Michael Kelcourse's recovery going post-stroke?

In May 2022, Patricia took to Instagram to share an update on how Michael was recovering following his stroke. “Michael is out today lunching at his favorite seafood restaurant in Sarasota, Florida. Besides living in a beautiful assisted living residence ... he is near to his family as well. Follow Michael at @michaelkelcourse and send him a cheerful message,” she wrote alongside a new photo of her longtime friend. “Doesn’t he look great!!!”

Michael also shared a quick update in the comments section of the post, adding, “Living the Florida dream.”

Since then, Michael has been keeping fans updated on his recovery and happenings on his Instagram page. Most recently, in July 2023, he shared a snapshot of himself enjoying an oyster lunch with some friends and his grandson.

Has Patricia Altschul found a new butler since Michael Kelcourse retired?

Since Michael had to stop working for Patricia, she has been having a hard time filling his position.

In May 2023, she shared on Instagram, “Even though Michael will always be irreplaceable as a member of our family and as much as I had hoped he could return, I am going to have to face the fact that I am in need of a butler… so far, I haven’t found anyone available in South Carolina so I may have to extend my search above and beyond… His are difficult shoes to fill.”

In the Season 9 premiere — which you can start watching in the video below — fans met Patricia's new butler, Randy. 

Start Watching the Southern Charm Season 9 Premiere Now!

What is Patricia Altschul’s relationship with Michael Kelcourse today?

Though he no longer works for her household, Michael and Patricia have remained friends. “We talk all the time and keep in touch,” Patricia explained in a Season 9, Episode 6 interview. “I miss him every day. He really is like a member of the family.”

Michael appeared in that episode via FaceTime. “[I’m] doin’ great,” he told Whitney and Patricia. “I got no complaints.”

Their chat  to fall on the two-year anniversary of his stroke. “I couldn’t have done it without you folks,” Michael told them. “You gave me such help and were just such an inspiration… I love all you guys more than you’ll ever know — and the dogs!”

Michael Kelcourse, Patricia Altschul's former butler, on facetime talking to Patricia and Whitney.

Michael Kelcourse's Duties as Patricia Altschul's Butler

Patricia Altschul Michael Stroke Butler 01 1

As Patricia said, whoever replaces Michael will have "difficult shoes to fill" since Michael did so many tasks outside of a traditional butler role. During the Southern Charm Season 5 After Show — which you can watch in the video at the top of this post — Patricia and Michael shared more insight as to exactly what those duties were. 

"People think Michael does everything in this big house," Patricia said. "We have cooks. We have housekeepers. We have gardeners. We have pool guys, pond guys. I mean, the list is endless. And Michael oversees everybody." 

Michael also specialized in hospitality. "When a guest checks in, I make sure they have everything they could ever need as well as things they don't need," he explained. "I can clean their jewelry. If their suitcase needs a tiny repair or if they need polish on their shoes, if there's a particular towel they like, if there's a soap they like. I always have a list of all their breakfast items. Anything they enjoy." In fact, as Patricia noted, Michael kept a log of all of Patricia's guests including their food and beverage preferences.

"I get these comments like, 'Well, I hope you pay him a big salary,'" Patricia said, "which, of course, I do. He has a Swiss bank account." Added Michael, "I have more money than I can spend in three lifetimes."

Patricia Altschul and Michael Kelcourse's Friendship


More than an employee, Michael was a companion to Patricia and the two had a fun, witty banter together. Of course, Michael was always providing Patricia with "her medicine" —  gin martinis. But the two also enjoyed excursions. In one hilarious scene from the show, Michael drove Patricia to the McDonald's drive thru, where he ordered for her at the window since, naturally, he knew exactly what she wanted. 

In her book, The Art of Southern CharmPatricia wrote that hiring Michael was the "best thing I could have done." She added: "Best of all, he has a killer sense of humor — dry as my favorite martini."

What is Michael Kelcourse's recipe for the perfect martini?

As Southern Charm fans well know, one of Michael's main tasks was making sure Patricia had a top-notch gin martini at the ready whenever she wanted one. In April 2022, Patricia took to Instagram to reveal Michael's signature martini recipe  — though she noted, despite instructions, no one can make it as good as he can. 

The martini recipe is as follows: 3 ounces of Beefeater gin and 3 "cap fulls" of Boissière or Dolin dry vermouth since Patricia likes her martinis "more flavorful." Then, add "plenty of ice" that is first splintered by placing it in a bag and smashing it with a mallet, and shake the ingredients in a shaker before pouring into a martini glass. 

Patricia Altschul updated fans about Michael Kelcourse at BravoCon 2023

Madison LeCroy, Patricia Altschul, and Leva Bonaparte smile onstage at BravoCon 2023.

During the "It's All About to Go South" panel at BravoCon 2023, Patricia gave an update on the condition of her longtime friend. “Well, unfortunately, his condition is such that it will never change. It is static. He has a spinal stroke, which is very rare, I think less than one percent of all strokes are that,” she said.

“He is with his family in Sarasota, Florida, and he has to have nursing care,” she shared. “So he’s in a facility. But he has learned how to drive manually. And so he gets out and about."

But don’t worry: Michael is still watching television and making his snarky comments, like always. "We talk all the time, he watches all the shows," she added. "He is still as snarky and fun, and has a great attitude.”

But when asked whether any of those "snarky" comments are about this season of Southern Charm, Patricia decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

"I don't know," she said with a smile in response to a query about Michael's thoughts on the new season. "He might get mad at me if I say all the snarky things that he has said." 

Patricia Alstchul visited Michael Kelcourse in Florida in December 2023

In December, Patricia and Michael finally had the opportunity to reunite in person after years apart. In a December 14 Instagram post, Patricia shared a photo of her and Michael enjoying drinks together Sarasota. The longtime friends were all smiles as spent time together at a restaurant. 

"First there was Covid.. then my back fracture so this is the first I’ve ever been able to spend time with Michael,” Patricia wrote, explaining their long-overdue meetup.

In the comments, Michael wrote: "Mrs. A visiting was the greatest gift I ever got." 

Originally published Sep 20, 2023.

Want the latest Bravo updates? Text us for breaking news and more!