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Marriages of Ray Charles

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Ray Charles performs on stage during a concert on September 9, 1996 in Montauk, New York.
Walter Iooss Jr / Contributor/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Background:

Although Ray Charles was a huge success in most areas of his professional life, he was unable to have the same success in his own complicated private life.

Born:

Ray Charles Robinson: September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia.

Death:

Ray: On June 10, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California, Ray Charles died of liver disease.

Memorial Service:

Los Angeles' First AME Church.

Burial:

Inglewood Cemetery

Marriages:

Ray Charles was married twice, first at age 21, second at age 25.
  • Eileen Williams: Eileen, a beautician from Columbus, Ohio, and Ray met through his friend Billy Brooks. Eileen and Ray were married on July 31, 1951 in Georgia before a Fulton County justice of the peace. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1952. We could not find verification of claims that Ray and Eileen had a child together.
  • Della Beatrice Howard Robinson: Della and Ray met in Houston, Texas. "B" was his nickname for her. Ray and Della were married on April 5, 1955. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1977. Three children.

Children:

Ray acknowledged having twelve children, 21 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.
  • Evelyn Robinson: Born abt. 1950. Her mother is Louise Mitchell.
  • Ray Charles Robinson, Jr: Born abt. 1955. His mother is Della Robinson.
  • David Robinson: Born abt. 1958. His mother is Della Robinson.
  • Charles Wayne: Born abt. 1959. His mother is Marge Hendricks who was one of the Raelettes.
  • Reverend Robert Robinson: Born abt. 1960. His mother is Della Robinson.
  • Raenee Robinson-McClellan: Born abt. 1961. Her mother is Mae Mosely Lyles, an entertainer from New York. Raenee traveled with Ray on the road selling his merchandise.
  • Sheila Raye Charles aka Sheila Robinson: Born September 1963. Sheila is a professional singer. Her mother is Sandra Jean Betts who was a receptionist when she and Ray met.
  • Reatha Butler:
  • Alexandria Bertrand: Her mother is Chantelle Bertrand.
  • Vincent Kotchounian: Born abt. 1977. Raised in France. His mother is Arlette Kotchounian who is credited with artwork/photography on Ray's 1990 "Would You Believe" album.
  • Robyn Moffett aka Babie Charles: Born abt. 1978. Her mother is singer/artist Gloria Moffett. Robyn is a singer.
  • Ryan Corey Robinson den Bok: Born abt. 1987. His mother is Mary Anne den Bok.

Occupations:

Ray was an award winning singer, composer, and musician who played piano, organ, saxophone, and the clarinet.

Miscellaneous:

Ray Charles was blind by the time he was six years old, and orphaned as a teenager. Overcoming tragedy and poverty, and achieving respect and wealth, he was unable to be successful in marriage. Many of the songs he wrote are thought to be reflections on his failed relationships.

Some biographers noted that he was indifferent to his wives, lovers, and children.

However, his kids revealed that in 2002 Ray gave each of them $1 million.
Source: "Ray Charles' children discuss father's unknown generosity." Jet. 11/1/2004.
Ray's weakness for womanizing was legendary. "The man who was rarely without his signature cocktail —- coffee, sugar and gin —- was a legendary womanizer, and like all legends, it's tough to separate truth from fiction."
Source: Tanya L. Edwards. "Was Music Legend Ray Charles Really a Legendary Womanizer?" MTV.com. 11/17/2004.

Residence:

Beverly Hills, California.

"Ray" (DVD) (2004):

Compare Prices

This movie of Ray Charles' life is set in the years between 1935 through 1967.

The film chronicles not only Ray Charles' tempestuous personal life and failed relationships, but also the story of his career as a legendary blues singer.

On 2/27/05, Jamie Foxx won the Best Actor award for Ray.

Ray Charles Quotes About Marriage:

Ray about why he wouldn't marry again: "It's just that my style with women -- my need for women -- doesn't match up with the demands and dilemmas that marriage puts in my way. And besides, to me marriage seems to mean possession and ownership of human beings as though they are television sets. And I really don't want to be owned."
Source: Ray Charles, David Ritz. Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. pg. 285.

Ray Charles: "All my kids know me."
Source: Mike Sage. "What I've Learned: Ray Charles." Esquire.com. 8/1/2003.

Ray about marriage: "Marriage only got started when men wanted a way to fence off their property. So we set up these rules and started marrying gals. The gals felt like they were being protected. To them, it was their sole method of survival. Many times women weren't allowed to learn to read or write. And they were hld back the way blacks had been stifled by whites. That's how men have controlled women for so long. And that's how our attitudes got so crazy and one-sided."
Source: Ray Charles, David Ritz. Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. pg. 238.

Ray about his marriage with Eileen: "And because I was on the road so much, the marriage was doomed from the start. Maybe I should have known that you can't tell enough about a person after three weeks to decide about something as serious as marriage."
Source: Ray Charles, David Ritz. Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. pg. 130.

Ray about his marriage with Della: "B and I had a good twelve or thirteen years of marriage. Sometimes when I think about it, I'm surprised that we managed that long. The pressures on us both were very heavy, and yet we endured them for a long spell. When we were together, we were together. I give her a great deal of credit for putting up with me and my strange ways ... The other tremendous burden on her was my drug habit."
Source: Ray Charles, David Ritz. Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. pg. 160.

Ray on ending his marriage with Della: "Finally, though, I have to blame myself for 80 or 85 percent of the damage to our marriage. I was the one who fell into the dope and into the paternity suits. I knew just what I was doing. I saw the risks. I was selfish."
Source: Ray Charles, David Ritz. Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story. pg. 284.

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