Who Is Aretha Franklin's Husband?

She married her first husband when she was 19 years old.

Who Is Aretha Franklin's Husband? instagram

The Queen of Soul passed away early this morning of advanced pancreatic cancer, surrounded by friends and family. Aretha Franklin had been in hospice care the last few days, saying her final goodbyes, with celebrities like Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson visiting her.

Everyone, no matter what age, remembers Franklin for her unique voice and hits like “Respect,” “Think,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.” She sold more than 75 million records since becoming a breakout star in the 1960s, and there truly was nobody like her.


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But though she had a very successful career, she wasn’t always so lucky in her personal relationships. Who is Aretha Franklin’s husband?

1. Well, she was actually married twice.

Franklin was married to Ted White from 1961 to 1969, and then remarried Glynn Turman, to whom she was with from 1978 to 1984.

2. She married White when she was 19.


Photo: Shutterstock

The couple wed in 1961, and her father was not pleased by the marriage. Franklin was just 12 years old when she first met White.

3. He was allegedly a pimp.

Her brother, Cecil, said that because Franklin was so ambitious, it drove her right into the arms of White, who was “a pimp and used his prostitutes’ earnings to invest in her career.” According to multiple sources, White viewed her as a meal ticket.

4. White was abusive.

Even though White had played a role in Franklin’s musical career as her manager, helping to co-write multiple songs, the marriage was plagued with domestic abuse. White frequently “left Ms. Franklin with visible bruises” and “ugly physical fights were not unusual between Mr. White and Ms. Franklin.”


Sister-in-law Earline, who was married to her brother Cecil said, “Everyone knew that Ted White was a brutal man. But Aretha... she’s always clung to this fairytale storyline. She wanted the world to think she had a storybook marriage. She was having all those hits and making all that money. She was scared of rocking the boat, until one day the boat capsized and she nearly drowned.”

5. Her marriage to White led her to addiction.

Photo: Getty


White introduced Franklin to drinking and weed, and she eventually developed a problem with alcohol. At the height of the success for her song “Respect,” Franklin was drinking heavily and smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. She would also get extremely intoxicated before performing.

According to longtime friend and booking agent Ruth Bowen, during a concert in May 1967, Franklin fell off the stage and broke her arm. She claimed the stage lights blinded her, but Bowen knew it was alcohol. She was “using booze to numb the pain of her lousy marriage. Liquor was just making her sloppy,” Bowen said.

After showing up to the studio looking disheveled and like she had been beaten, her sister Carolyn commented, saying, “She was drinking so much we thought she was on the verge of a breakdown.” She also became known for not showing up to the studio on time.

6. She eventually divorced White and married Glynn Turman.

Thankfully, Franklin separated and divorced White, and her brother Cecil became her manager. She eventually remarried Turman in 1978, meeting at a benefit for needy children in Los Angeles. Franklin’s son, Clarence, set the two up. For a while, the two were extremely happy.


Good friend and actor, Lou Gossett, said of their marriage, “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.”

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7. Both of them were previously married.

Turman was married to his high school sweetheart up until 1972 and he shared three children with her. Franklin even became stepmother to Turman’s three children from his prior marriage, moving them into her Encino home.

8. Turman was an actor.

He’s most known for playing Lew on the soap opera Peyton Place, Leroy “Preach” Jackson on Cooley High, Bradford Taylor on A Different World, and mayor Clarence Royce on The Wire. He also appeared in House of Lies, Queen Sugar, and Suits.


9. Aretha had four sons.


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She gave birth to her first child, Clarence, when she was only 12 years old; the father was Donald Burk, a young boy she knew from school. She had a second child when she was 14, Edward, and named him after his father, Edward Jordan. In 1970, she had her fourth son, Kecalf, with her road manager, Ken Cunningham.

She also had one child with ex-husband named Ted White Jr., who is known professionally as Teddy Richards. He played guitar in his mother’s band and is a passionate musician.

10. She had planned to marry her longtime companion, Willie Wilkerson.

In 2012, the two were engaged to be married, with Franklin referring to Wilkerson as her “forever friend.” They had plans to wed in Miami Beach and Franklin had been picking out designers for her wedding dress. But after just two weeks after their announcement, the two called off the engagement.


Franklin released a statement about the broken engagement: “Will and I have decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly. There will be no wedding at this time. We will not comment on it any further because of the very personal and sensitive nature of it. We appreciate all of the many well wishes from friends.”

The two were also engaged in 1987 but never made it down the aisle at that time, either. They originally met at an autograph signing in the 1980s, where he asked the singer to sign the cast of his broken leg. They kept in touch after that encounter.

11. Wilkerson was her “rock.”


Photo: Getty

During her struggles with various health issues over the years, Wilkerson was by her side. When she was allegedly diagnosed with cancer in 2010, a source says that “[He] was there almost 24/7 taking care of Aretha.” And there’s no doubt he visited Franklin in her last few days.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.