In Kenny Rogers' lifetime, he was married to five different women. However, four of those marriages failed, with the legendary singer always blaming himself for those failures.
Kenny Rogers, a 2013 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, was one of the best-selling musicians of all time as he sold over 100 million records worldwide. However, while Rogers' musical talent and success were unquestionable, his marital life left much to be desired.
Rogers tied the knot five times in his lifetime, but four of those marriages ended in divorce, and only the fifth one went the long haul. Find out more about the legendary singer's marriages and how he always blamed himself for their failures.
Photo of late singer Kenny Rogers during a performance. | Photo: Getty Images
FIRST AND SECOND MARRIAGES ENDED IN A COUPLE OF YEARS
Rogers' first marriage happened when he was very young. He reportedly explained that he got his first wife, Janice Gordon, pregnant the first time he slept with her, and they tied the knot afterward on May 15, 1958.
Rogers was 19 then but maintained that he loved Janice and was okay with marrying her. However, her parents thought he had ruined her life and were determined to break him. Eventually, the marriage failed, and it hurt Rogers, who said:
"It didn't work, and it's really sad because I think it could have worked. You can't say I'm afraid of commitment. I've been married five times!"
Country music singer, actor and photographer, Kenny Rogers, poses during a 1986 Los Angeles, California, studio portrait session. Rogers was promoting his venture into photography and the release of his "America" photo book. | Photo: Getty Images
Rogers and Janice shared a daughter named Carole Lynne. However, after their divorce, he did not have contact with Carole and explained why:
"[...]That was my promise to them, that I would be her father but he (his ex-wife's second husband) would be her Dad, and I don't want to disrupt that."
Rogers said Janice's second husband stepped in at an awkward time and became Carole's dad. The singer said he loved the man for that and described him as a good guy.
Rogers detailed the ultimate reason his marriage to Janice crashed in the pages of his autobiography "Luck or Something Like It." He said Janice's parents never got used to him being a musician.
Thus, when they saw he was not willing to change his career from music, they did not want anything to do with his marriage to their daughter.
Janice's parents wrote Rogers off as a long-term breadwinner, and their marriage became sour afterward before eventually ending in October 1959.
Rogers revealed that the end of his and Janice's marriage was facilitated by an argument when their daughter was six months old. After the argument, he left, and when he returned, she had packed her bags with help from her mom and was gone.
The couple finalized their divorce in April 1960. After Janice left, Rogers realized he loved being married and immediately remarried. His second marriage was to Jean in October 1960, a few months after sealing his divorce from Janice.
However, the marriage lasted only three years because he and Jean realized that it was not suitable for them. They divorced in 1963.
A HEARTBREAKING DIVORCE
Rogers' third marriage was to Margo Anderson. He wrote in his autobiography that their relationship was explosive from the get-go.
The couple tied the knot in 1964; they were married for 12 years and had a son, Kenny, before divorcing in 1976. However, according to Rogers, most of their marriage was good.
He described their first nine years as being as good as it got, but only the last few years were ugly. Rogers explained that it could not have been better when things were good between him and Anderson. However, when things got bad, they had to stand back.
Kenny Rogers with his wife Margo Anderson at Heathrow Airport, London, UK, 24th March 1970. | Photo: Getty Images
A major problem they had was Anderson's knack for regurgitating problems and things that happened years before. Rogers also said most of their fights were about money.
Rogers blamed Anderson for starting the fights between them. He said she always reminded him of his shortcomings, even those he had long forgotten. However, he admitted that one of the things that killed the marriage was his knack for touring so much.
A WELL-DESERVED $60 MILLION DIVORCE
When Rogers met Marianne Gordon, the woman who became his fourth wife, they were both going through painful divorces. They met in the 1970s when he was a guest on "Hee Haw" and started dating after meeting a second time at a party.
The lovebirds proceeded slowly with their relationship to avoid rushing anything. They married on October 1, 1977, and were together for nearly 17 years before their divorce in 1993.
After their divorce was finalized, Marianne walked home with $60 million. However, Rogers was never bothered about the huge sum she got. Instead, he said she deserved every penny.
Portrait of singer Kenny Rogers and his wife, actress Marianne Gordon, prior to his concert tour around the country after arriving in Britain, November 7th 1977. | Photo: Getty Images
One reason for Rogers' assertions was that Marianne stood behind him when things were rough for him – he was in debt of about $60,000.
Rogers turned his financial situation around, and Marianne was there every step of the way and even toured with him. With such a devoted woman as a wife, one must wonder what caused them to split.
The couple welcomed their twin sons and remained married for 22 years until Rogers' death from natural causes.
Kenny Rogers and his wife Marianne Gordon attend an event in circa 1983. | Photo: Getty Images
In an interview, Rogers explained that Marianne was a great girl, and they had a perfect marriage for 15 years. He added:
"In fact, everything was fine until our son Christopher was born - but I wouldn't want him to take any responsibility for this - because that's when Marianne stopped touring with me..."
Kenny Rogers and son Christopher Cody Rogers attend 10th Annual American Music Awards on January 17, 1983 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images
When Rogers returned from his tours or tennis tournaments, he discovered his and Marianne's lifestyles clashed. Hence, one day, they said to each other:
"Life is short, we deserve to be happy, let's find something else to do with our lives,' and the marriage ended."
Their son, Christopher, struggled to accept that his parents were divorcing. Rogers told Christopher about the divorce and the latter, who was 12 years old at the time, screamed. However, his father reassured him that it would be okay.
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. | Photo: Getty Images
He explained that even though he won't spend as much time with his son as he used to, every time they spent would be quality time.
Christopher asked Rogers if he would still be his dad, and he answered in the affirmative. Then, the boy explained that he thought his mom would remarry and someone else would have to be his daddy, and Rogers would not look at him as his son.
Rogers understood his son's fears as that of a 12-year-old sorting out things in his head. However, he added that Christopher was fine afterward.
Kenny Rogers and son Christopher Gordon attend the 28th Annual Grammy Awards on February 25, 1986 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images
FINALLY, A MARRIAGE THAT LASTED
Despite Rogers' third marriage ending in divorce, he never gave up on love. He met Wanda Miller, his fifth and final wife, in the mid-1990s. Miller was 28 years younger than Rogers, but that did not stop him from tying the knot with her on June 1, 1997.
He gushed over her in a reported interview 15 years after their marriage, saying they had been together for 20 years and married for 15 years.
Rogers noted that even though Miller was 28 years younger, she was his soul mate and knew him better than anyone else had known him. He added that Miller loved what he did, and he was not as insensitive to her needs as he might have been in the past.
Kenny Rogers and wife Wanda backstage at the Plymouth Theater where they were visiting the cast of the musical "Jekyll and Hyde" on July 17, 1997. | Photo: Getty Images
Also, Rogers' fourth wife, Marianne, was totally supportive of his marriage to Miller. He noted that ex-wives could make current wives miserable, but Marianne did not do that.
She saw he was happy with Miller and that made her happy. Rogers revealed how Marianne sent him birthday greeting cards and other things. However, Miller always knew about such things. He explained:
"Because to me the definition of an affair is anything you can't tell your spouse about, even if it is only having coffee with someone else. If you can't tell, there is a hidden agenda."
Kenny Rogers and wife Wanda Miller Rogers attend the 2017 IEBA Honors & Awards on October 17, 2017. | Photo: Getty Images
He added that when husbands do not tell their wives about such things, they begin to imagine the worst. Rogers shared two children with Miller during their marriage.
However, their initial plan was not to have kids. Before they married, he told her he did not want any more kids. Also, Miller said she did not want kids either.
However, Miller had never had kids, so Rogers told her she might think she did not want kids then, but when she turned 30, her body would like her to have kids or miss it forever. However, she insisted she would not have kids.
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. | Photo: Getty Images
Just as Rogers predicted, Miller asked him if they could have a child when she turned 31. After she requested, he did some soul-searching and realized it would be unfair of him to take her childbearing years. He added:
"I also didn't want her to wake up at 50 and me be dead and for her to have to say, 'I wish I hadn't married Kenny, I could have had kids.'"
Thus, Rogers and Miller went for it and eventually had twins. When he found out they were having twins, he was thrilled, and so was she. He described it as an overwhelming feeling for them.
American Country musician Kenny Rogers performs onstage at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, September 26, 1980. | Photo: Getty Images
The couple welcomed their twin sons and remained married for 22 years until Rogers' death from natural causes at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia, on March 20, 2020.
In the end, Rogers lived a successful and fulfilled life. Despite four of his five marriages ending in divorce, he was always supportive of his wives and tried to take the blame and responsibility for their splits.
During an appearance on Anderson Live, he said, "I take the blame for it because I think it's a man's responsibility to protect the relationship and I didn't do that."
He also said he had no regrets about his relationships though he regretted hurting people even though it was never intentional.
Rogers was an iconic musician and would always be remembered as one. Also, he was a loving husband and father to all his wives and kids, and his legacy will live long through them.