Who was Johnny Cash’s first wife who he married in his 20s?
Johnny Cash is one of the most critically acclaimed singers of his generation. The American singer-songwriter was known for his ballads focusing on sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption – however, his love life is also one that excites fans, particularly his first wife.
Vivian Liberto was Johnny Cash’s first wife and had four children with him. Though Cash’s story has become a central part of American cultural lore, the tale of his first wife Vivian Cash has been all but written out of his story.
In 1954, Johnny Cash married Vivian Dorraine Liberto of Texas and they stayed together for 13 years. But during that time, Vivian Liberto Cash suffered both her husband’s infidelity as well as widespread hatred over her racial identity. After their divorce in 1967, Cash married singer June Carter, with whom he had an affair during his marriage to Vivian Cash. However, even years after her death, Liberto has made a return to mainstream news.
Why did Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto make a return to mainstream news even after her death?
Vivian died in 2005 at the age of 71, believing she was of mixed Italian and German ancestry. However, it turns out that she was mistaken.
Johnny Cash’s first wife had a black great-great-grandmother who was a slave, it has emerged – shocking the Cash family, and providing a dramatic posthumous twist to her remarkable story. In a February episode of the PBS show, Finding Your Roots, host and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. presented Rosanne Cash with her DNA results and family genealogy.
Rosanne Cash, 65, the eldest of four daughters born to Johnny and Vivian, was left shocked by the results. Gates told her that Vivian’s maternal great-great-grandmother was an enslaved black woman, Sarah Shields, whose white father in 1848 had granted her and her eight siblings their freedom, and their ‘whiteness’. Shields illegally married a white man, and all of her children and their descendants were listed as white.