Actor Glynn Turman Recalls His Most Embarrassing Moment W/ Ex-Wife Aretha Franklin: Her Fans Booed Me Off Stage!
The Queen of Soul‘s fans don’t play, do they? Emmy-award winning actor Glynn Turman, known for his roles in “Cooley High Harmony” and “A Different World,” was once the leading man in the life of late singer Aretha Franklin. The pair were married from 1978 to 1984. Glynn has, since, re-married – but in a new interview still recalls his most embarrassing moment involving his famous ex.
The 72-year-old says he was once booed off of the “Respect” singer’s stage at a Paris concert:
“I will tell you a worst moment, but you’ve got to promise that you will acknowledge in this piece that my wife gave me permission to tell this story about an escapade with my ex-wife! When Aretha and I became engaged, she had the opportunity to go to Paris to perform and she wanted to share the spotlight with her new husband-to-be in front of her international fans. But I don’t sing, so I didn’t have anything to offer. So we came up with the idea: Why don’t I do a monologue?
Now this is in a huge stadium in Paris with thousands of people. So I said, ‘I’ll do a scene from “Cyrano de Bergerac” and I’ll do this monologue to you — you’ll sit at the piano and I’ll do this monologue to you, my Roxane.’ And she said, ‘OK.’ I hadn’t done the play before this — nor since. I break out in hives when anybody brings it up now!
So we’re in Paris and she’s on stage singing, and after the intermission we’re about to start the second act with this monologue. She sits there and introduces me to the audience — ‘This is my fiance, a famous actor in America’ — the whole thing, and I start the monologue. And I pretty soon hear grumbling in the audience. The audience is very discombobulated. And then I hear, ‘Aretha! Aretha! Aretha!’ And I keep going but I’m looking out at the audience and now they’re chanting: ‘Areee-thaa Franklin! Areee-thaa Franklin! Areee-thaa Franklin! Boooooooo! Booooooooo! Aretha! Aretha!’”
Glynn recalls how he scrambled to get off his then fiancee’s stage:
“And I’m thinking: ‘Oh shoot how do I get off this stage?’ And Aretha was trying to be brave with me, trying to encourage me to go on! But now they’re stomping! You could hear thousands of people stomping: ‘Get off the stage!’ And I eased off the stage, making myself as small as I possibly could, and eased off into the wings.
And she immediately started playing the piano and with only the grace that she had, recaptured this hostile French audience. Oh, what a stupid thing to do! I wasn’t speaking in French, first of all! I’m doing a bad job of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ because I hadn’t even memorized it, I was reading it! And the next thing I know, it was a mutiny! It was bad on so many levels — it was a bad choice, a bad performance, bad timing, bad everything — and the audience was right: Who is this dude with a bad rendition of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ in English holding up this d*mn concert?
Shoot, I don’t blame them — I would have booed me off the stage too! They didn’t care who I was, they came to see Aretha Franklin sing. Music transcends language and Aretha Franklin making music transcends everything. But afterwards, I was livid!”
He can, now, laugh about the incident, but will never get over the embarrassment!
“I was just so upset and she was like: ‘No, don’t worry about it. It’s done, forget it.’ And of course as you can see, it’s 40 years and I haven’t forgotten it yet! She didn’t bring me on stage to perform after that. Hell no! She was like, ‘You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and that’s that.’ But we did share the stage again, believe it or not, we did a TV thing together, it was a Burt Sugarman thing where I sang – and just as badly as I performed ‘Cyrano de Bergerac.’ My takeaway is: When the crowd comes to see the Queen of Soul, just present the Queen of Soul. Don’t get in the way.”
Written by Miata Shanay