Who is Aretha Franklin's first husband Ted White and where is he now?

4 June 2021, 17:42

Aretha And Ted White in 1961
Aretha And Ted White in 1961. Picture: Getty

At the start of Aretha Franklin's career, she was managed by her first husband Ted White, who she was married to for the majority of the 1960s.

Ted White is played by actor Marlon Wayans in the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect opposite Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul.

But who was the businessman and where is he now?

Meeting Aretha and becoming her manager

Ted White was born in Detroit, Michigan, in March 1931. He was described by Time magazine in 1968 as "a former dabbler in Detroit real estate and a street-corner wheeler-dealer."

White, who also owned a chain of jukeboxes, was a sandlot promoter before he took over managing the career of singer Aretha in 1961.

Aretha Franklin facts: Queen of Soul's age, husbands, children and vocal range explained

He met Aretha after being introduced by singer Della Reese at the Twenty Grand Club in Detroit. After just a few weeks of dating, the couple got married while touring Ohio in 1961, when Franklin was 18 and White was 30.

Ted White with Aretha and Jerry Wexler in 1968
Ted White with Aretha and Jerry Wexler in 1968. Picture: Getty

Aretha's father CL Franklin did not approve of the wedding. Family and friends were also skeptical of Aretha's association with White, as his supposed shady dealings could hurt her career.

Motown producer Harvey Fuqua said: "Anyone who didn't see Ted White as a straight-up pimp had to be deaf, dumb, and blind. ‚ÄČIt took someone that slick to get a great talent like Aretha in his stable."

Fatherhood and separation

The couple had one son together, Ted 'Teddy' White Jr, born in 1964. After his parents' divorce, Teddy was mostly raised by his father's family in Michigan. He spent the holidays and weekends with his mother in Detroit. Teddy went on to play guitar for his mother, before becoming a singer-songwriter under the name Teddy Richards.

Read more: How many children did Aretha Franklin have and where are they now?

White and Aretha separated in 1968, and her brother Cecil Franklin took over managing her career. Their divorce was finalized in 1969.

White was said to be abusive towards Aretha during their marriage. According to a 1968 Time magazine story, White "roughed her up in public at Atlanta's Regency Hyatt House Hotel."

Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson told Time that it wasn't the first incident in which White was violent towards Aretha. Author and biographer David Ritz also wrote that "ugly physical fights were not unusual" between the pair.

Where is Ted White now?

Little is known about Ted White's life and career in recent years. He is now aged 90.

In 2019, it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that Ted White had been seeking a cut of her estate, following her death the previous year.