Actor Glynn Turman, beloved in the Black community for his iconic roles as Preach in Cooley High, Col. Taylor on A Different World and recently Ernest Bordelon on Queen Sugar, was also once married to the legendary Aretha Franklin who died this morning at the age of 76. He visited Franklin in her last days, along with Stevie Wonder and he talked to People.com about his time with Franklin and the friendship they shared even after their divorce.
“I felt her pulse holding her frail, frail arm,” the actor, 71, says about his final moments with Franklin, whom he calls “a love of my life.”
“I was able to feel her pulse, which was strong. So she was fighting ’til the very end,” he says of the star, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 76 on Thursday morning. “She’s always been a warrior — a strong, strong woman and a fighter. Her pulse told me that she was not in surrender mode. She was going to fight it ’til the end.”
During his visit, Franklin was conscious but unable to communicate with Turman and Stevie Wonder. Still, “she did know that I was there,” he says. “And we were able to feed off of that recognition, feed off of the moment of both sort of realizing that time was extremely precious at this time. So it was a moment full of closure.”
Franklin and Turman, who did not have children together, wed in 1978, separated in 1982 and divorced in 1984. Franklin never married again but remained close to longtime love Willie Wilkerson until her death, while Turman married once more.
Turman went on to tell People.com that he was glad he got to see the side of her that the public did not – as a wife and mother of four sons, Clarence Franklin, 63, Edward Franklin, 61, Ted White, Jr., and Kecalf Cunningham, 48. The two had no children together. Though the couple divorced, they did stay in touch, something Turman and Franklin herself confirmed.
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Now, he will remember Franklin’s humor and stubborn streak. “She was hilarious,” he says. “She had a roster of jokes and could make funny situations out of situations that you wouldn’t think … were funny.”
At the same time, Franklin was “stubborn, stubborn as hell,” he adds. “Women’s Rights Movement should have her name written all over. She just didn’t take tea for the fever, as the old folks would say. She was stubborn and hard to persuade. When she got her mind made up on something, you might as well pretty much forget trying to change it.”
Turman believes that Franklin was aware of all the warm thoughts that fans and friends were sending her way before she died. “I’m sure she knew of all the people who cared about her,” he says. “I think that the people who were taking care of her continually told her of all the good wishes that were coming through.”
PHOTO: PR Photos
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