Ernestine Campbell is the former wife of Richard Wayne Penniman, an American singer, pianist, songwriter, and grand pioneer of American rock and roll, popularly known as Little Richard. Ernestine was born in 1939 and is 84 years old as of 2023.
The first and only woman who was able to make Little Richard walk down the aisle despite his complicated sexuality remains Ernestine Campbell. She has been in the spotlight since 1957 when she started dating her ex-husband. Though it is over 64 years since she divorced Little Richard, she is still making headlines as his ex and only wife. Here is all you need to know about Ernestine Campbell and her life as Little Richard’s ex-wife.
Ernestine Campbell’s Age
Ernestine Campbell is 84 years old as of 2023. Although there is no clear information about her exact date and month of birth, she was born in 1939 in the United States. Richard’s ex-wife is an American national of African-American ethnicity. Ernestine was born and raised by devoted Christian Navy parents whose identities were never disclosed.
Little Richard’s ex-wife was raised in a well-to-do family that has traveled to various parts of the United States with her, including Diamond Bar, Lynchburg, Los Angeles, and more. Unfortunately, there is no information about Ernestine’s siblings and what they are up to.
Among the things Ernestine never mentioned about herself was her educational background. While it is unknown where she attended school and the certificates she obtained, it is possible that she attended some prestigious schools and colleges and graduated with good grades.
Ernestine Campbell was Little Richard’s Wife For 4 Years
Ernestine Campbell and Little Richard were married for four years, a union that the former described as blissful. Ernestine Campbell and Little Richard first met during an evangelical rally in 1957. Their meeting ignited a curiosity for some romantic interest that later flourished into a relationship. Ernestine Campbell and Little Richard’s relationship lasted for two years before they finally got married in 1959.
They got married on July 12, 1959, in a lavish wedding ceremony in California, United States. Their wedding was recorded in the presence of friends, relatives, and Little Richard’s colleagues in the music industry. Unfortunately, their union came to an unexpected end in 1964, despite the strong chemistry they both reported in their early years of marriage. Ernestine was Little Richard’s only wife and remained in his life even after they divorced.
Why Ernestine Campbell Divorced Her Ex-Husband, Little Richard
While Ernestine Campbell affirmed that her marriage with Little Richard was a beautiful one, she did open up about what brought their union to an abrupt end. She revealed that Little Richard was all about his career and often forgot that he left a wife at home. This would be unbearable, especially for a wife who is not into entertainment herself. She said that he gave all his time to his career and had none left for his family.
Secondly, Ernestine hinted that her ex-husband’s complicated sexuality made things a bit difficult for them. Although she agreed that they had a sexual relationship, she clarified that he was always pumping (a word Little Richard often used for masturbation) himself all through the day. Their divorce did not involve any controversy or scandals; rather, they remained friends and looked out for each other long after they had parted ways.
Did Little Richard Have Any Children With His Ex-Wife, Ernestine Campbell?
Little Richard had no biological child with his ex-wife, Ernestine Campbell. The duo had long divorced before Little Richard adopted a son in 1984, whom he named Danny Jones Penniman. Danny, who was 14 years old at the time of his adoption, is 65 years old as of 2023. He took after his late father in the music industry, though not in Rock and Roll but as a rapper and songwriter.
When Ernestine was speaking about why she didn’t have a child with her ex-husband, she highlighted that it was based on a mutual agreement. She mentioned that they both had each other’s backs and were always there for themselves; hence, they saw no need for a child. In her words in the book, The Life and Times of Little Richard, she stated, “I don’t regret that we didn’t have children because we always had each other. We’re still very close.
Ernestine Campbell Got Into Her Second Marriage in 1975
Ernestine Campbell did not give up on marriage after she split from her ex-husband, Little Richard. Although she waited for over ten years, she later found love again and got married in 1975, this time to McDonald Campbell. There is no information on how Ernestine and McDonald met or if they dated before their marriage; however, they tied the knot on March 23, 1975, in Santa Barbara, California.
Since her second marriage, the couple has not made any public appearances or been granted an interview or whatnot from the media. The secretary on her end has maintained a low profile since her divorce from Little Richard and has become a hermit, avoiding anything media-related and all that comes with it.
What Does Little Richard’s Ex-wife, Ernestine Campbell, Do For A Living?
Since Ernestine Campbell maintains a low profile and lives out of the public’s eye, little to nothing is known about her. Meanwhile, she once held a highly coveted post in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a secretary. Little Richard’s ex-wife also reportedly worked at the Navy Department, where she had strong family connections.
Is Ernestine Campbell Still Alive?
Absolutely! Ernestine is still very much alive and has not had any reports of adverse health status in recent years. Although her ex-husband, Little Richard, died in 2020 due to bone cancer, there has never been a time when she was reported to be dead. It is pertinent to note that since Ernestine is already old, she may have retired to enjoy the eve of her life at her country home in Colton, California.
Was Little Richard Gay?
Yes! Little Richard was gay. Although he later denounced it when he was born again, he often openly discussed his bisexuality.
Was Little Richard Married?
Yes! Little Richard was previously married in 1959 to Ernestine Campbell, but their marriage did not withstand the test of time as it came to an end in 1964. However, he remained single and did not marry again until his death.