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Smokey Robinson Admits to Extramarital Affair With Diana Ross

Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for dcp
Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for dcp

In an interview with The Guardian to discuss his newest album, Gasms, singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson explained that it reflects his feelings about sexuality in old age. During the conversation, he revealed that, back in the day, he had an extramarital affair with The Supremes’ lead singer, Diana Ross.

Robinson was married to bandmate Claudette Rogers

The Supremes posing for a photo with Smokey Robinson.
Singers Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard of the vocal group The Supremes pose for a portrait with fellow Motown artist Smokey Robinson on March 15, 1965. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

The group that would later become the Miracles formed in 1955, with friends Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore, and Ronnie White at its core. Members left and were replaced over the years. In 1957, Claudette Rogers joined the group in her brother Bobby Rogers’ place. She and Robinson started a relationship, and in 1959, when Robinson was 19 years old and Rogers 17, the two decided to get married.

The couple remained married for 27 years and had two children together, but Robinson has admitted to having affairs throughout that time. One of these was with Ross. He explained, “I was married at the time. We were working together and it just happened. But it was beautiful. She’s a beautiful lady, and I love her right till today.”

He continued, “She’s one of my closest people. She was young and trying to get her career together. I was trying to help her. I brought her to Motown, in fact. I wasn’t going after her and she wasn’t going after me. It just happened.”

Ross broke off the affair

Smokey Robinson looking at Diana Ross as they pose for a photo together.
Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross attending the Broadway opening night performance of ‘Motown The Musical’ at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre in New York City on 4/14/2013. (Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Corbis / Getty Images)

After about a year, Ross approached Robinson saying that they couldn’t continue their affair any longer. “After we’d been seeing each other for a while, Diana said to me she couldn’t do that because she knew Claudette, and she knew I still loved my wife. And I did. I loved my wife very much,” he explained.

“I learned that we are capable of loving more than one person at the same time. And it has been made taboo by us. By people. It’s not because one person isn’t worthy or they don’t live up to what you expect – it has to do with feelings,” he said. “If we could control love, nobody would love anybody. Nobody would take that chance.”

In the early 1980s, Robinson admitted to having fathered a child with another woman, which ultimately led to the end of his marriage to Rogers. The two divorced in 1986, and Robinson went on to marry his second and current wife, Frances Gladney, in 2002.

Ross had her own complex love life

Headshot of Berry Gordy, Diana Ross, and Smokey Robinson posing together for a photo.
Berry Gordy, Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson at the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Chris Polk / AMA2017 / Getty Images for dcp)

Diana Ross had a busy love life of her own following her split from Robinson. Her next beau was Motown Records co-founder Berry Gordy, who also happened to be Robinson’s best friend. The two were together for a year before Ross became pregnant with her first child, Rhonda.

In 1971, two months into her pregnancy, Ross actually married music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein, who was aware that he wasn’t the father of her child but raised Rhonda as though she were his own daughter. They would go on to have two more children together, Tracee Ellis and Chudney Lane, but their marriage would not last. The couple eventually divorced in 1977.

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In 1985, Ross married a Norwegian businessman, Arne Naess Jr., with whom she had another two children: Ross Arne Naess and Evan Ross. However, this marriage didn’t last either, coming to an end in 2000 after it was revealed that he had fathered a child with another woman outside of their marriage.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!