Frankie Lymon’s Story
Boy soprano Frankie Lymon was only thirteen years old in 1956 when he and his group The Teenagers recorded their massive hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” a song Frankie had co-written. Heady with success, Frankie decided to attempt a solo career, but he could never duplicate his initial triumph. In 1968 at the age of only 25, he died in his grandmother’s bathroom of a heroin overdose. Thirteen years later, in 1981, Diana Ross revived “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” selling many records and generating significant royalties for Frankie’s estate.
With this influx of cash into the estate, three women stepped forward claiming to be Frankie’s widow: Elizabeth Waters, who married Frankie in 1964; Zola Taylor, a singer with the Platters, who claimed to have married Frankie in Mexico in 1965; and Emira Eagle, a schoolteacher, who married him in 1967. Frankie had not bothered to divorce any of the women. As it turned out, Elizabeth had been legally married to someone else at the time she married Frankie and Zola could not produce any proof of the alleged Mexican wedding. The first court that heard the case found in favour of Elizabeth, the first wife, but on appeal, the estate was awarded to the third woman, Emira. The third marriage was the only one that was legal, because both parties were legally single at the time.
Lawyer’s Comment: If you have enjoyed a robust love life, with multiple partnerships, marriages and divorces, it is particularly important to leave a will that can make your wishes clear and avoid lengthy and expensive litigation for your family.