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Thread: "But what is her ethnicity?" - Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian Liberto

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Default "But what is her ethnicity?" - Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian Liberto

    So, I was casually scrolling through Reddit today and there was a TIL (things I learned) thread about Johnny Cash's first wife, Vivian Liberto. (https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearn...irst_wife_was/) The thread says that even though Johnny Cash's first wife was Italian American, some local southern paper mischaracterized her as black and that they began to receive death threats and canceled shows.

    The thread has been dominated mostly by a discussion of Italy and the invasion of Sicily by the Moors and how that would have affected the appearance of Italians. In "Walk the Line", Vivian was portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin. By the way, I read a couple of lines from Vivian's autobio ("I Walked the Line: My Life with Johnny") and it turns out not only that June Carter did not write "Ring of Fire" but that Johnny wrote it as an ode to the Vaj.

    Cash and Vivian (the photo on the right was the one that a racist newspaper used for targeting them):


    Vivian's brother, Raymond Liberto:


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    Many southern Italians have black ancestry. People are so ignorant and hateful.
    I never knew who Cash's first wife was, and I do find this interesting
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    Elite Member Trixie's Avatar
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    Well, this is something totally random that I never gave a thought.

    Apparently this took place back in the '60s and Johnny had to deny he was married to a black woman.

    https://www.history.com/news/why-hat...h-in-the-1960s

    I always thought their daughter Rosanne looked a lot like her mom.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    "Ring of Fire" but that Johnny wrote it as an ode to the Vaj.
    Thankfully, there is medication for that now.
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances

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    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    When I first glanced at the thread title I was trying to remember when Johnny Cash was ever married to Ashley Greene.
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    Vivian was gorgeous! In that “Country Music” docuseries that Ken Burns did, Rosanne addressed that incident where people thought her mother was black.
    Last edited by Bluebonnet; February 28th, 2020 at 09:15 AM.

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    I didn't know that much about his first wife, either...just that he had one. The story is doubly gross because not only were people up in arms that he could possibly be married to a black woman, but that the government co-signed it by allowing biracial marriage to be illegal in many states. We're just a hop, skip, and a jump from repeating that history.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    She may have been biracial, and kept it quiet in those Jim Crow days. It was an ugly time and people did that to get by sometimes. She also may not have been aware of it, someone else may have been 'passing', like a parent or grandparent.



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    Well, someone in the comments section did research her family tree on a genealogy website, and apparently she does have some black, her mother's great-grandmother is listed as "slave jinsey." So maybe she was at least one-eighth?
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    I have to admit that some Italians make me do a double take. At first glance, she does look Latina or a light skinned African American woman.

    IIRC, didn’t Conway Twitty or Merle Haggard write a song about falling in love with a black woman, and could not find any C&W record company to record it?
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BITTER View Post
    I have to admit that some Italians make me do a double take. At first glance, she does look Latina or a light skinned African American woman.

    IIRC, didn’t Conway Twitty or Merle Haggard write a song about falling in love with a black woman, and could not find any C&W record company to record it?
    That reminds me of this old country song "El Paso", by Marty Robbins. It's about a guy who walks into a cantina and falls in love at first sight with a Mexican girl. I remember as a kid thinking, "Oh, man, Mexican girls must be awesome!" I fell in love with someone a couple countries south, but close enough, LOL.

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    Elite Member ikmccall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BITTER View Post
    I have to admit that some Italians make me do a double take. At first glance, she does look Latina or a light skinned African American woman.

    IIRC, didn’t Conway Twitty or Merle Haggard write a song about falling in love with a black woman, and could not find any C&W record company to record it?
    It was Haggard. BTW, Roseanne Cash filmed an episode of Finding Your Roots , PBS genealogy show.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BITTER View Post
    I have to admit that some Italians make me do a double take. At first glance, she does look Latina or a light skinned African American woman.
    It’s less well known than the 8 centuries of moorish occupation in Andalusia but Sicily was occupied by north Africans too, so yeah southern Italians especially are the result of lots of ethnic diversity.
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    In those pictures with Johnny she looks 100% black and Johnny has never looked more handsome.
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    Cash always reached out to the black community; he used black backup singers, especially those with a background in gospel music...
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