Aretha Franklin’s relationship with her many husbands is downright tragic

Soul queen Aretha Franklin has sold over 75 million records as a singer, songwriter and pianist. The singer has certainly influenced the music industry. Her music has reached millions, if not billions of people, and has inspired countless other artists. Her contributions live beyond her boundaries through her music, her activism and the art she inspired. Film, Respect, details of her life.


Franklin was also a prominent activist supporting civil rights, women’s rights, and the indigenous movement. Franklin’s contributions to both American soul music and American society at large are immeasurable. However, her personal life was full of tragedies, especially her relationships and marriages.


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Aretha Franklin’s relationship with Ted White

Aretha Franklin’s first husband, Ted White, was also her manager. The couple married quickly, less than a month later, when Franklin was only 18 and White, 30. Friends and family, especially Franklin’s father, C.L. Franklin, were against the alliance based on concerns about White’s character


Franklin and White eventually divorced in 1969. White reportedly suffered physical abuse during their marriage. Friends, family, and reporters reported incidents of both public and private violence. Franklin’s brother, Cecil Franklin, replaced White as her manager following their separation.

Aretha Franklin had two sons before her marriage to White and gave birth to White’s third child, Ted White Jr., who followed in her mother’s footsteps as a singer and songwriter. He also played guitar for his mother. However, he spent more time with his father’s family.


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Franklin met and married White at such a young age, and his influence on her career was quite large. Continued physical abuse and career control is heartbreaking. Fortunately, Franklin was able to divorce White, but the trauma is definitely evident in her music. Her tone and lyrics express deep sadness associated with her personal relationships and widespread collective experiences of sexism and racism.

Aretha Franklin’s relationship with Glynn Thurman

Years after her divorce from White, Aretha Franklin married actor Glenn Thurman in 1978. In addition to being an actor, Thurman has worked as a producer, screenwriter and director throughout his career. Thurman and Franklin were previously married and entered into an alliance with previous children. The couple are reported to be on good terms.

However, they eventually broke up and divorced in 1984. It is mentioned that the main family issues were related to long-distance relationship issues, which makes sense given that both stars had successful careers that required extensive travel.

Glynn Thurman and Aretha Franklin would hardly have been the first influential Hollywood couple to struggle to balance their careers and relationships. The busy schedule with music tours and filming around the world probably makes it very difficult to prioritize your long-term partner. Sources say Pete Davidson and Phoebe Dynever broke up for similar reasons.

The couple even managed stay friends after divorce… Thurman visited Franklin in her final hours, and they both publicly supported each other throughout the rest of her life and career. Ultimately, this breakup was sad and certainly very difficult for the couple, but they provided an example of close-knit exes for future Hollywood breakups. Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt were never married, but they certainly remained friendly and supportive.

While Franklin and Thurman’s divorce may have been a tragic and extremely difficult time for the couple and their family. However, each of them seems to have been an important element in each other’s lives. And, ultimately, the sources of support, love and positiveness remain even after their separation, which is very pleasing.

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Aretha Franklin’s relationship with her “almost husband” William Wilkerson

After her divorce from Thurman, Aretha Franklin remained unmarried. Her longtime friendship with William “Willie” Wilkerson has garnered public attention and rumors about their relationship. Much of this solidified when the couple announced their engagement in 2012 after years of friendship.

The couple never married, but remained close until Franklin’s death from pancreatic cancer. Franklin refers to his love for Willie and the longevity of their relationship related to his ability “Distinguish between a lady and an artist.”

They may have never been officially married, but the duo enjoyed each other’s time and their relationship outlived Franklin’s other marriages for a long time. Although she maintained a friendship with Thurman.

Ultimately, the tragedy of this relationship lies in the loss that Wilkerson, his life partner, best friend, and soul mate, Franklin, who was taken from him. Aretha Franklin’s death was also tragic in itself, but hopefully it was made easier by the presence of her longtime friend. Unfortunately, Franklin has already experienced a huge number of deaths throughout her life, having lost many family members at a young age.


Aretha Franklin’s relationship with her many husbands was in many ways tragic. Ted White’s violence, grief with Glynn Thurman, and a breakup with Willie Wilkerson all highlighted the hardships Aretha Franklin went through in her relationship. This hardship and loss of so many family members can be heard on her albums.

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Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson was shy about Aretha Franklin while filming “Respect”

Franklin actually picked Hudson to play her, and when the movie began filming, she immediately supported her.

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