Marrying 29 times kept this fellow busy!
In five months, my wife and I will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary. Ludie was 25 and I was 27 when we were married in Los Angeles on Flag Day, June 14, 1963.
Although 55 years may be a long time for some, the world’s record for a lengthy marriage appears to be that of Karam Chand, the groom, and Katari, his bride. They had an arranged marriage in their native India in 1925 when he was 20 and she was 12.
They were married for 90 years and 291 days until they both died in West Yorkshire, England, in 2016. She was 103 and he was 110. When asked the secrets of their long marriage and lives, they told a British newspaperman in 2013, “Keep no secrets from each other, don’t argue, drink whiskey and milk, smoke cigarettes and eat butter and fresh yogurt.”
In recollecting the wonderful years Ludie and I have been married, I remember an interview I conducted in 1961 with a woman who had been to the altar infinitely more times than most of us.
I was a reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner at the time, and the city editor instructed me to take along a photographer to the interview with Beverly Nina Avery, 49, who had just terminated her 16th marriage.
My visit with Beverly was held at her suburban apartment, and as my photographer shot photos of the attractive woman in a housecoat, she told me that she had married 14 different men, two of them twice. She married for the first time at 16, she said.
I recently discovered my article about Beverly lying at the bottom of an old box in the attic. It was headlined, “Wedding Belle: After 14 Mates, She is Through.” In the story, I quoted her as saying, “I’m through with men for good. I never wanted to get married in the first place. I’ve come home to pack a few things and find a new place to live,” she said after divorcing Gabriel L. Avery, 48, “who just couldn’t get along with me. But we’re still good friends. He’s one of the men I was married to twice, and he’s paying my rent until I move,” she said, ticking off her other husbands who included two bartenders, two sailors, an accountant “who still owes me money,” a real estate salesman and a parking lot attendant.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I’ve been so busy getting married and divorced I don’t have a talent for anything else,” she added.
When my interview ended, Beverly exclaimed, “Maybe I’ll get married one more time. Are you married, David?” she asked.
When I told her I had a steady girlfriend named Ludie, she asked, “Do you have any friends who might want to marry me?” I stuttered, “I don’t think so,” and my photographer and I beat a hasty retreat back to the newspaper where I wrote my story and he developed his photos.
Although Beverly was married 16 times, the Guinness Book of World Records lists American grandmother Linda Wolfe “as the most married woman in the world.” According to a February, 2009 London Daily Telegraph article, she was awarded this title by Guinness after it was documented she had walked down the aisle 23 times.
The Telegraph story about Linda quoted her as saying, “I’m now on the lookout for number 24. I’m addicted to the romance of getting married.” Like Beverly, she had married for the first time at 16. Her first marriage, to a man named George, was in 1957 and it was her longest: It lasted seven years.
But from there, things went downhill … fast. Her husbands included a one-eyed convict, barmen, plumbers, musicians, two homosexuals and two men who were homeless. One marriage lasted only 36 hours “because the love wasn’t there,” she told the Telegraph. She said she had seven children by the men, one of whom she had married three times.
One of her marriages was to a fellow named Glynn Wolfe, and this was his 29th marriage, placing him in the Guinness book “as the most married man of all time.” He died a year later, in 1997, at 88, and she kept his last name.
Wolfe’s son, Johnny, also got into the swing of things. He was hoping to marry, at the age of 14, Guadalupe, 19, the half-sister of his father’s latest wife, according to an Associated Press story datelined Yuma, Ariz., where the Wolfe family owned a small hotel. Guadalupe, a Mexican, reportedly spoke no English. When the Associated Press story came out a few years ago, Johnny and Guadalupe were attempting to receive permission from a California judge to marry. I have been unable to learn if they ultimately got that permission and were wed.
Famous Americans who have been married more often than most of us include these five-timers: boxing champ George Foreman, “Aliens” director James Cameron, “Dynasty” star Joan Collins, actor Clark Gable, actress Rita Hayworth and actor Eddie Fisher. Married six times have been actresses Hedy Lamarr, Rue McClanahan and actor Tony Curtis.
Rockabilly singer Jerry Lee Lewis and actor Richard Pryor have married seven times, and actresses Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor and TV commentator Larry King wed eight times. Marrying nine times were actresses Jennifer O’Neill and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Perhaps these abovementioned notables would have had the opportunity to tie the knot even more often if they had been citizens of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The minimum age to marry in these Middle Eastern nations is 9.
David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.