Over the course of her life, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has been married twice. Her first marriage to Theodore “Ted” White lasted eight years. It began when Franklin was just 19 years old.
Unfortunately, Franklin and White’s marriage was riddled with domestic violence, and the two separated in 1968. Their divorce was finalized in 1969.
Read on to learn more about Aretha Franklin and Ted White’s marriage.
1. The Marriage Reportedly Involved Domestic Abuse
According to In Style, White and Franklin’s marriage ended following reports of domestic abuse.
White was, according to reports from BHW, the “slickest pimp in Detroit” and known for being “notorious”.
As her manager, however, he was very involved in Franklin’s career, and helped her co-write a number of hit songs, like “I Wonder”, “Dr. Feelgood”, “Lee Cross”, and “Think”, among others. He also believed she had what it takes to become one of the greats. A New York Times article reads, “… she was managed by Ted White, who thought she could hit it big singing the equivalent of show tunes and standards.”
The outlet goes on to say that White “left Ms. Franklin with visible bruises” and that “ugly physical fights were not unusual between Mr. White and Ms. Franklin.”
2. Aretha Franklin Married Glynn Turman After Her Failed Marriage to White
From 1978 to 1984, Aretha was married to Glynn Turman. The stage, TV, and film actor is known for playing Lew on the soap opera Peyton Place. He also played high school student Leroy “Preach” Jackson on Cooley High, math professor Bradford Taylor on A Different World and Baltimore mayor Clarence Royce on HBOs The Wire.
Turner and Franklin met in 1977 at a benefit for needy children in LA. Her son, Clarence, was the one who set them up. In a 1978 People Magazine article, Franklin and Turman explained that Turman had been married to his childhood sweetheart, whom he divorced in 1972. Together the couple had had three children.
After marrying the soul singer, Turman and his three children moved in with Aretha and her son. Speaking of their marriage, friend and actor Lou Gossett said, “Glynn and Aretha are two halves of a circle. She’s got guts and soul and he’s got a disciplined, artistic temperament. They’re very close buddies too, and that’s an indication of a long-term relationship.”
3. Ted White and Aretha Franklin Had One Kid Together
In 1964, Aretha Franklin gave birth to her third child– and the son of Ted White– Ted White Jr.
Ted Jr. developed his passion for music as a young boy. According to his Music Page profile, he attended Michigan State University. He also played guitar in Aretha Franklin’s band for a number of years.
His website reads, “I’ve evolved from a self-taught guitarist into a producer, engineer and accomplished tunesmith; I truly love music and enjoy the journey that it’s taken me on.”
4. After Her Divorce Franklin’s Brother Cecil Became Her Manager
Ted White served as Franklin’s manager for a number of years before and during their marriage. After the divorce, Franklin’s brother, Cecil, stepped in and took over as her manager.
He remained her manager until his passing 20 years later.
Cecil, who was a reverend, died of a heart attack at age 49. According to his obituary in The Boston Globe, he had been suffering from pneumonia for two months. At the time of his death, Cecil was working as the assistant pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
5. Franklin’s Father Reportedly Objected to Her Marriage to White
According to the Daily Mail, Aretha was just 12 when she first met Ted, and her father did not approve of their wedding seven years later.
The Daily Mail also writes that “White was a… pimp and used his prostitutes’ earnings to invest in her career. The marriage was abusive and unhappy.”
Growing up, Aretha and her siblings all competed for the attention of their father, “wanting to shine”, writes the New York Times. And Franklin has been very open about her father’s influence on her life and career. In an interview with Time, the songstress says, “I was around 8 or 9 – my dad asked me to sing that day. Had he not been a minister, he could very well have been a great singer. I really didn’t want to sing, but he heard the possibilities and continued to encourage me. And thank God he did.”