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Getty Images | Facebook/michael.ciminella
Getty Images | Facebook/michael.ciminella

Michael Ciminella Is Naomi Judd’s Former Classmate and Ex-husband

Bettina Dizon
Sep 05, 2022
06:20 P.M.

Michael Ciminella was known as the first husband of Naomi Judd, who she married at 17 years of age. After having a daughter together, the couple decided to part ways. Naomi became a world-renowned singer, while her ex-husband found love again amidst supporting their daughter, Ashley Judd.

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Michael Ciminella is famously known for being Naomi Judd's first husband and the father of her daughter, Ashley Judd. Ciminella and Naomi married at a young age, far before the singer adopted her stage moniker.

Their marriage, however, only lasted a few years. While Naomi became a famous singer, together with her daughter Wynonna Judd, Ciminella faded from the spotlight. However, he never failed to be a good father.

Michael Ciminella Is a Businessman's Son

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Ciminella hails from Ashland, Kentucky, but currently lives in Louisville. He received his high school education at the Fork Union Military Academy and later pursued a business degree at Transylvania University.

After graduating in 1967, Ciminella returned to school to get an MBA at the University of California. He has since worked as a Freelance Remote Sports Production on several networks, including NBC Sports, CBS, ABC, and ESPN. He also worked in the marketing department of an Aerospace subcontractor.

Like his late father, also named Michael, Naomi's ex-husband became a businessman. Ciminella founded the Ashland Kentucky business Ashland Aluminum Co.

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Michael Ciminella Was Married to Naomi Judd before Her Fame

Ciminella married his classmate, Naomi, a few days shy of her 18th birthday in 1964. By then, the singer was already pregnant with her daughter Wynonna, whom she had with her high school sweetheart, football player Charles Jordan.

She missed her graduation when the "Young Love" songstress gave birth. Nevertheless, she had Ciminella by her side as they moved to Los Angeles in 1968 with Naomi's firstborn.

Ciminella shares a close bond with his daughter and is always ready to be with her in times of need. Such was the case when Ashley had an accident while in the DRC.

The couple welcomed a daughter together, Ashley, in 1968. Unfortunately, despite having a family, Ciminella and Naomi's love only lasted a few years, and in 1972, the pair divorced. Naomi raised her daughters while attending nursing school at the College of Marin.

However, her career shifted to the entertainment industry, and her life as a singer flourished with her daughter Wynonna. The pair became a singing duo called The Judds and made waves in the music industry.

Wynonna Judd sings during CMT and Sandbox Live's "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration" at Ryman Auditorium on May 15, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

Wynonna Judd sings during CMT and Sandbox Live's "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration" at Ryman Auditorium on May 15, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

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Apart from her singing career, she also became a producer and actress, recognized for "Someone Like You," "Route 65 Nashville," and "An Evergreen Christmas." Naomi died on April 30, 2022, at the age of 76. Sadly, she died by suicide in her Tennessee home. Her family said in a statement:

"We have always shared openly both the joys of being family as well as its sorrows, too. One part of our story is that our matriarch was dogged by an unfair foe. She was treated for PTSD and bipolar disorder, to which millions of Americans can relate."

Michael Ciminella Is Ashley Judd's Father

Ciminella welcomed his firstborn, Ashley Judd, on April 19, 1968, four years after tying the knot with his ex-wife. Although she didn't follow in her mother's footsteps as a singer, Ciminella's daughter joined the entertainment industry as an actress.

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Ashley also became a political activist and humanitarian, advocating for pressing issues. Similarly, Ciminella has stances that he shares with his daughter, such as being a feminist, according to Ashley.

Ciminella shares a close bond with his daughter and is always ready to be with her in times of need. Such was the case when Ashley had an accident while in the DRC. The actress traveled to South Africa to have much-needed surgery, and Ciminella immediately flew to the country to be by her side while hospitalized.

Ciminella and Wynonna faced a challenge in 2012 when Wynonna filed a lawsuit against him for failing to pay for a loan. Ciminella allegedly purchased a property and loaned $200,000 from his daughter alongside a promissory note.

"He has been my rock, companion, resource, helped me listen to so many doctors, critical support system, and kind, loving presence as I have wept and wept. We then made the 22-hour - 4 flights - to America thanks to unbelievably efficient disaster travel insurance on an Air Ambulance," Ashley shared.

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Wynonna Judd Regarded Michael Ciminella as Her Father

Ciminella also stood as a father to Wynonna throughout her formative years. She initially thought that he was her biological dad for years. It wasn't until the early '90s that she found out who her birth father was, but sadly, they never met in person.

"He died before I could meet him. I pray he'll greet me in Heaven," Wynonna once said in an emotional tweet.

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However, Ciminella and Wynonna faced a challenge in 2012 when Wynonna filed a lawsuit against him for failing to pay for a loan. Ciminella allegedly purchased a property and loaned $200,000 from his daughter alongside a promissory note.

Falling in love wasn't difficult, given the many things they had in common. However, it took ten years before Naomi and Strickland tied the knot.

However, he did not pay the principal amount, accrued interest, and other late fees. Ciminella's legal counsel claimed that the property was Wynonna's gift to her father. However, she attempted to collect it 18 years later as she was in need of money.

Michael Ciminella Is Now Married and Living in Louisville

Ciminella is now happily married to Mollie Whitelaw, a Louisville, Kentucky-born native. Before trying the knot on November 8, 2010, Whitelaw studied at Converse University.

She later had her education at the University of Louisville, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts History, Fine and Studio Arts, Secondary Education, and Teaching.

Currently, Whitelaw works as a Management Professional at an independent non-profit organization in Kentucky.

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It seems that her married life is getting stronger and that she and Ciminella are on good terms. His social media posts show that the pair travel and share quality moments together.

What Is Michael Ciminella Doing in 2022?

Aside from spending time with his wife, Ciminella seems to be significant support for his daughter. His social media posts indicate that he is actively interested in politics and social issues like Ashley.

He is also an animal lover, particularly birds. Ciminella also has a pet cat named Cleo, who sometimes appears on his Facebook post. Previously, he posted about a mockingbird by his home. He said:

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"This little fella showed up when I whistled today. He is a northern mockingbird, and seems to like peanuts. If he's going to continue to be a member of our avian society, he will need a name; I am open to suggestions."

Just as Ciminella continued to live his life, his first wife, Naomi, also fell in love again when she met Larry Strickland in 1979. Falling in love wasn't difficult, given the many things they had in common. However, it took ten years before Naomi and Strickland tied the knot.

They were happily married for over 30 years and had a routine together. "We might go to Red Lobster. I'm tired of Cracker Barrel. We are so normal. Right now, he's out on a Bush Hog [mower] on the farm, and the big excitement is he found a rattler last week. That's how we live," she said.

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Strickland also supported Naomi Judd's career and mental health struggles. He stayed with her until she took her life in what would be a surprising turn of events. Regardless, the duo is considered one of the industry's power couples.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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