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Kenny Rogers' Decision to Cut off His 1st Daughter: ‘That Was Really Awkward for All of Us’

Camila Santiago
Oct 27, 2021
02:20 A.M.
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Kenny Rogers loved to be in love. Perhaps that’s why he married five times. However, the country legend’s career got in the way, and he expressed his regret of not being a present father to his children.

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The man who loved to be in love. The late country legend was a romantic and admittedly obsessed with women — the latter being one of the reasons he became a musician in high school, “to get the girls.”

The singer came from a large family and created one of his own. Kenny was married five times, had four sons and a daughter. His daughter is the eldest and the sole child he didn’t nurture a close relationship with.

[Left]: Photo of country singer Kenny Rogers, circa 1980. [Right]: Kenny Rogers on stage, circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images

[Left]: Photo of country singer Kenny Rogers, circa 1980. [Right]: Kenny Rogers on stage, circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images

KENNY ROGERS AND CAROLE LYNN ROGERS

Carole Lynn Rogers is Kenny’s first child with his school sweetheart and alleged first love, Janice Gordon. Carole’s mother got pregnant with her when they were both too young — Kenny was 19 at the time, and it happened the first time they had sex.

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In an interview with Fox News, he spoke about his memoir release in 2012, “Luck or Something Like It.” During the interview, Kenny revealed Janice’s parents pushed them to get married after she got pregnant:

“You know what? I loved her. At 19, I thought, ‘This is ok with me.’ That was a thing where her parents thought I’d ruined her life and were determined to break me. It didn’t work, and it’s really sad because I think it could have worked.”

Singer Kenny Rogers poses for a portrait in 1979 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Singer Kenny Rogers poses for a portrait in 1979 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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The man who loved the thrill of being in love fell in love with his high school friend. The friendship blossomed into something more, so they decided to tie the knot in 1958. Carole Lynn was born months later.

The union, however, only lasted two years. According to Kenny, Janice’s mother “didn’t believe in the marriage and took her away from him.” When Janice remarried, the event got in the way of Kenny’s relationship with his first child.

Kenny Rogers, son Kenny Rogers, Jr. and daughter Carole Rogers attend the 12th Annual People's Choice Awards on March 11, 1986 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

Kenny Rogers, son Kenny Rogers, Jr. and daughter Carole Rogers attend the 12th Annual People's Choice Awards on March 11, 1986 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Kenny told Fox News with hindsight; he agreed with his first wife to keep his distance and allow her then-husband to raise Carole Lynn and become the father the little girl deserved. He shared:

“He stepped in at a time that was really awkward for all of us, and he became her Dad, and I love him for that. He was a good guy.”

Carole Lynn and her biological father barely saw each other during her childhood and teenage years. According to People, Kenny was granted a visit per week to see Carole, and each visit would last a maximum of two hours.

Kenny Rogers performs at the Rosemont Horizon (later renamed the Allstate Arena), Rosemont, Illinois, March 22, 1985. | Source: Getty Images

Kenny Rogers performs at the Rosemont Horizon (later renamed the Allstate Arena), Rosemont, Illinois, March 22, 1985. | Source: Getty Images

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But as his career took off in the country music scene, those visits got compromised. He told the magazine that he stopped visiting altogether and didn’t see Carole Lynn for 15 years at some point.

The country legend tried to reconnect and mend the fences with his daughter. In 1980, Kenny flew Carole Lynn and her mother to Hawaii, but the reconciliation didn’t last longer than their vacation.

For Fox News, in 2012, the country star said he wasn’t in contact with his only daughter. This reality, however, took its toll on Kenny. Two years after their vacation, the Hall of Fame member expressed his regrets.

: Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers at the Country Music Hall of Fame Kenny Rogers Exhibit Opening Reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 13, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

: Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers at the Country Music Hall of Fame Kenny Rogers Exhibit Opening Reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 13, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

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KENNY ROGERS EXPRESSED HIS REGRETS

After Janice, the country star remarried almost immediately, but the union was also short-lived. After three years together, the couple part ways and did not result in children. Kenny’s third marriage to Margot Anderson in October 1964 did.

Kenny Rogers Jr. is Kenny’s second child. In 1982, Kenny Rogers said he’d allowed his career to get in the way of the relationship with his two first children, and he suggested that he’d have done things differently.

At the time, the forever romantic star was married to his fourth wife, Marianne Gordon. He was married to Gordon for 16 years and had a son, Christopher Cody.

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Kenny Rogers, Terry Williams, Mary Arnold, Kin Vassy and Mickey Jones of "Kenny Rogers & The First Edition" portrait 1970. | Source: Getty Images

Kenny Rogers, Terry Williams, Mary Arnold, Kin Vassy and Mickey Jones of "Kenny Rogers & The First Edition" portrait 1970. | Source: Getty Images

In the same interview, the talented artist revealed his feelings and expressed his regret of not being a present father to Carole Lynn and Kenny Jr.:

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“It’s too easy to think that these kids are still going to be kids tomorrow and that once you get your current project done, you’ll spend some time with them.”

He further elaborated that he got caught up in the rabbit hole of taking “the next project, then the next.” Consequently, as he explained, the next thing he knew was that the child was already grown, and he couldn’t relate to them.

Musician Kenny Rogers, wife Marianne Gordon, and son Christopher Rogers attend the 10th Annual American Music Awards on January 17, 1983 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Musician Kenny Rogers, wife Marianne Gordon, and son Christopher Rogers attend the 10th Annual American Music Awards on January 17, 1983 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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It turns out that he didn’t only abdicate his role as a father, but he admittedly said he compromised a lot of his personal life, and more often than not, he prioritized success over his family and kids. In a reflection about his drive and ambition, Kenny credited his mother.

Kenny recalled that his mom would often tell him to choose a career he loved so much that he’d never have to feel like he was genuinely working.

In the first years with Marianne Gordon and his third child, Christopher, Kenny tried to mend the fences and change his priorities. The couple spent 16 happy years together, but the country legend fell off the wagon once again.

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Kenny Rogers and son Christopher Gordon attend the 28th Annual Grammy Awards on February 25, 1986 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Kenny Rogers and son Christopher Gordon attend the 28th Annual Grammy Awards on February 25, 1986 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

When Christopher was 12, the couple divorced. Despite Kenny’s desire to be more present with his second son, his career kept him away.

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In fact, in 2006, the artist revealed that his marriage to Marianne fell apart when Christopher was born, and she stopped touring with him, which weighed their marriage. Four years after the separation — a $60 million divorce with Marianne — Kenny remarried for the fifth time.

Wanda Rogers and Kenny Rogers attend the 2012 CMT "Artists Of The Year" Awards at The Factory At Franklin on December 3, 2012 in Franklin, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

Wanda Rogers and Kenny Rogers attend the 2012 CMT "Artists Of The Year" Awards at The Factory At Franklin on December 3, 2012 in Franklin, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

His last wife, Wanda Miller, was 26 years his junior, and despite the age gap, the couple stayed together for over 20 years. They had twin sons Jordan and Justin, who were born in 2004.

Kenny Rogers, the country music legend, passed away on March 20, 2020, at the age of 81 from natural causes. His family surrounded him during his passing.

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