Aretha Franklin: the abusive relationship with her husband (and her father’s sex scandals)

“Respect” is the name of the singer’s new biopic, which does not focus on the darkest elements of her life story.

Aretha Franklin died in 2018.

It’s called “Respect” and is the biographical film that tells the story of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, from her youth in the 1940s to consolidating an international career three decades later. It was directed by Liesl Tommy and will premiere in Portuguese cinemas this Thursday, August 12th.

The plans to make this production a reality began a few years ago – even with the collaboration of Aretha Franklin herself, who died in 2018 at the age of 76. It was the singer herself that Jennifer Hudson chose to play.

About two and a half hours long, the film follows Aretha Franklin’s long life and career over the years, so most critics point out that the narrative is like a best of key moments along the way – which may not be a compliment.

It seems certain that some of the darker facets of the American singer’s life were not portrayed realistically and, given the actual events, may even have been devalued. The weight problem and insecurities that Aretha suffered from, for example, are little discussed. However, this is most noticeable in the portrayal of her first husband, Ted White, and in the controversy surrounding her father, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin.

“The film doesn’t ignore or expand on the dark elements – one scene suggests possible child sexual abuse, and then it is subtly pointed out but never really addressed,” wrote the USA Today reviewer.

The abusive relationship with the husband

Aretha Franklin married Ted White in 1961 shortly after they met. She would have been 19th, he was in his late 30s. White became her manager and they were together until 1969. Over the years, Aretha Franklin even developed a drinking problem that she took refuge in in order to escape the marital problems that affected her personal and professional life.

In the film, Ted White is played by Marlon Wayans. The actor stated in an interview with “Variety” that the decision had been made not to portray Ted White’s character as a “monster”. “I hope Ted White sees the movie and is happy with the way we approach his character because we could have portrayed him as a monster.”

“His insecurities and jealousy set in and he goes out to attack his wife because he just can’t handle it. I think we layered it and took it easy. “

Over the decades, Aretha Franklin rarely spoke publicly about her first marriage. However, a 1968 article in Time magazine reported that White had beaten the singer in public. “It wasn’t the first incident … I think she’s not happy,” Mahalia Jackson said in the article.

“Ted was a bit offensive,” later explained pianist Teddy Harris, who worked with Aretha Franklin. In her autobiography, the singer described Ted White as “a kind of man who likes to be in control”.

Aretha Franklin and Ted White.

According to David Ritz’s 2014 published biography “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin”, Ted White left the singer with “visible injuries”. “Ugly physical fights were not uncommon between White and Franklin,” wrote David Ritz in the New York Times.

“I’m not an abusive man. I am not a jealous man. I was loved by my parents, my brothers, my sisters. I’m not really from this world, “Marlon Wayans commented in another interview on” Respect “. “So I had to create and imagine and try to figure out why someone beats a woman they love. And that’s because dysfunctional people disturb people. He was unsure and tried to be the man again. You can also see that he loved her. “

Aretha Franklin’s father, who was instrumental in her career and always maintained her patriarchal status, was a pastor and would never really have approved of her relationship with Ted White. In several Aretha Franklin biographies, Ted has been described as a former street criminal and bad company. The marriage will end after several domestic conflicts.

Sexual promiscuity in the father church

Aretha Franklin’s father, CL Franklin, was a pastor – but that didn’t make him a saint. He had a habit of cheating on Aretha’s mother, who died when she was only ten years old, and there are several reports that suggest Clarence was a sexual predator among the young teenagers in his community. The sexual promiscuity was so great that Ray Charles even referred to the community as a “sex circus”.

CL Franklin with Aretha and her sister.

This environment in which Aretha grew up led her to start dealing with sexuality at an early age. She was the mother of the first child at just 12 years old and the second at 14. There were even rumors at the time that the first child was her own father, given the controversy surrounding her personality and deviant behavior, but Aretha assured her that it was was the result of a casual relationship with a schoolmate named Donald Burke.

However, the relationship with the father was not exactly peaceful. Clarence was very controlling and only moved on after Aretha married Ted White, who shared the same trait with her father-in-law. In “Respect” CL Franklin is played by Forest Whitaker.

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