The National Enquirer. I hope Jimmy Cohen’s Hudson News knows what they’ve gotten into.
The May 13th cover story claims that Aretha Franklin is being exhumed because she was possibly murdered. “There was no autopsy!” the headlines cry. The Enquirer also claims there’s been theft, and has a quote from Aretha’s boyfriend, Willie Wilkerson.
Well, there’s no exhumation. That’s ridiculous. Also no autopsy was required. Aretha wasn’t murdered. She died from pancreatic cancer. It’s absurd to say she was murdered. And offensive. She suffered from that cancer, and had excellent care from her family and friends. She would laugh if she saw this story. But I think she’d like the publicity! Aretha had a great sense of humor, to a point.
The whole story is offensive, frankly. Wilkerson never spoke to the Enquirer. Everything in that story is fabricated. Every word of it. There’s been no thievery of cash or belongings. Aretha’s estate has been calmly administered. There is no scandal. Someone offer proof of that, on the record.
Willie Wilkerson, by the way, was Aretha’s most loyal pal and employee, and is still grieving her death from last August. So are her relatives. But the Pulitzer Prize ceremony on May 28th will be a salve to that pain.
Meantime, Aretha’s long time friend and photographer, Linda Solomon, of Detroit, will be publishing a book of exclusive pics in October. “The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, An Intimate Portrait” has a foreword by Burt Bacharach and an afterword by Sabrina Garrett Owens, Aretha’s niece and executor. On Monday I’ll show a couple of pictures from the collection. They are just wonderful. The book really is a tribute to the Queen of Soul. Linda, by the way, is sister of former Today show correspondent Jill Rappaport. They were great friends of Lady Soul.
But National Enquirer– they should get the National Book Award for Fiction. LOL. They must be “Daydreaming”!
PS The real thing– Aretha’s gospel doc, “Amazing Grace,” is on its way to $3 million at the box office. Audiences are going crazy for it.