10 Famous Black Women who Married White Men

Inter-racial marriages are more common these days than they were even a few decades ago. And yet relationship trends in the US African-American population exhibit an increasing imbalance between the numbers of single men and women. Black women have remarked about an ever-shrinking pool of black eligible men who are available for dating and marriage. One of the consequences of this imbalance has been that more famous black women are settling for white partners. Here are ten famous black women who married white men.

  1. Whoopi Goldberg

    Whoopi Goldberg is among the most high-profile women who have married white men and that too more than once. the famous actress, comedienne, political rights activist, singer-songwriter and talk-show host has been married thrice and her last two husbands were white. In 1986 Goldberg married cinematographer David Claessen but the couple divorced a couple of years later. In 1994 she got married to the actor Lyle Trachtenberg but stayed together for only a year before the two divorced in 1995. Apart from spouses, some of the people Goldberg was romantically linked to were also white like Italian-American stage actor Frank Langella as well as Ted Danson, an actor best known for his role as central character Sam Malone in the sitcom Cheers, and his role as Dr. John Becker on the series Becker.

  2. Alice Walker

    One of the most influential African-American women novelists of the world, Alice Walker is also an essayist and activist. She has mainly written on issues of race and gender and her novel The Color Purple 1982 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker met Jewish civil rights lawyer Melvyn Roseman Leventhal in 1965. They were married two years later in New York City but soon relocated to Jackson, where they became "the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi". However in Jackson, the couple faced harassment and threats by whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. Walker and Leventhal eventually divorced in 1976 but she later has described their daughter from the marriage, Rebecca, as "a living, breathing, mixed-race embodiment of the new America that they were trying to forge."
  3. Aisha Tyler

    This popular actress, stand-up comedienne and author is most widely recognized for recurring roles TV series like Friends and CSI as well as for her regular role as Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer and voicing Lana Kane in Archer. In the widely-watched sitcom Friends, Tyler appears as Charlie Wheeler who first dates Joey and then Ross. In real life too she followed up her attraction to white men by dating an attorney, Jeff Tietjens. In 1992 the two were married. interestingly both Tyler and her husband are avid fans of beer and are known to be home brewers.
  4. Josephine Baker

    Josephine Baker, the iconic face of Harlem Renaissance was a woman of many firsts. Baker was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, for which she became the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre. Baker married and divorced four times during her life. Her last two marriages were to white Frenchmen. In 1937 She married Jean Lion and attained French citizenship from him. Around ten years later in 1947 she married orchestra leader Jo Bouillon. Even though Baker and Bouillon eventually divorced, he helped raise her 12 adopted children, whom she called the “rainbow tribe”.
  5. Lena Horne

    Lena Horne was another actress and performer of the early half of the twentieth century who settled for inter-racial marriage later in her life. Horne’s parents was a mix of African-American, Native American and European stock and belonged to the upper stratum of middle-class, well-educated African-Americans who were beginning to make a place for themselves in the early decades in America. After one failed marriage, Horne married white bandleader Lennie Hayton in 1947. At the time, Hayton was one of the premier musical conductors and arrangers at MGM. However the marriage was kept secret for three years because of racial pressures. Even though the couple started living separately in the early 1960s, they never divorced. Until his 1971 death, Hayton remained her pianist, arranger, conductor and manager.
  6. Marian Wright Edelman

    A highly-regarded children rights activist in the USA and a lifelong champion of the disadvantaged, Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. In 1967, during a tour by Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark of Mississippi's poverty-ridden Delta slums, Marian met Peter Edelman, who at the time was an assistant to Kennedy. The two married on July 14, 1968. Peter Edelman eventually went on to become a civil rights activist and a law professor in Georgetown. The Edelmans are one of the best examples of inter-racial marriages, remaining married for more than forty years and raising three sons, Joshua, Jonah, and Ezra.
  7. Alfre Woodard

    Another African-American woman who has found long term happiness with a white partner is Alfre Woodard, a Golden Globe Award-winning film, TV and stage actress. She has been married to writer Roderick Spencer for nearly three decades. The couple has two children, Mavis and Duncan. Apart from the fact that Woodard is married to a partner of another race, the very longevity of the marriage in  a place like Hollywood where marriages rarely last longer than fashion runway trends, has surprised many. But Woodard is believed to have given credit for her steady marriage to the support from both her and her husband’s families.
  8. Diana Ross

    Another singer and performer of African-American who tried her luck with inter-racial marriage on more than once occasion is Diana Ross. Ross is a hugely successful singer and actress who has garnered multiple Grammy and Tony Awards for her music besides being nominated for Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. However the course of her personal life has not run so smoothly. Ross has been married and divorced twice. Her first husband was music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein, whom she married in January 1971 and with whom she had two daughters. They divorced in March 1977. Ross then met Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Næss, Jr during a trip to the Bahamas and in January 1986, after a romantic courtship, the two got married. However the couple soon drifted apart despite having two sons from the marriage. After several years of legal separation, they were officially divorced in 2000. Four years later Næss was later killed in a mountain climbing accident and Ross attended the funeral.
  9. Mariah Carey

    Carey is counted among one of the most successful African-American singers and performers of the modern period. In fact she was named the best-selling female artist of the millennium by the World Music Awards show in 2000. A lot of the credit for her success in the early part of her career goes to Tommy Mottola under whose guidance Carey made her recording debut in 1990 and who was then a top Columbia Records executive. The two became romantically involved during the making of Carey’s debut album Music Box and in 1993 were married in a lavish ceremony. However four years later, Carey and Mottola officially separated in 1997. Although the public image of the marriage was a happy one, she said that, in reality, she had felt trapped by her relationship with Mottola, whom she often described as controlling. Their divorce became final in 1998. Carey’s new found single status was reflected in her music as it incorporated more elements of hip-hop and soon after the separation, she also hired an independent publicist, a new attorney and manager.
  10. Grace Hightower

    Even though Hightower is a singer, actress, socialite and philanthropist in her own right, she is more widely recognized as wife of longtime Hollywood actor Robert DeNiro. The two met in London in 1987 and after dating for around ten years, got married in 1997. However their early married years saw a lot of ups and downs with DeNiro even filing for divorce in 1999 and a custody case over their son Elliot in 2001. But the divorce was never finalized and the couple renewed their wedding vows in 2004 in front of a crowd of Hollywood celebrities.