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Smokey Robinson Reveals Year-Long Affair With Diana Ross: "It Just Happened"

The singer says he was married to his first wife when they found a "beautiful" connection.

They're two music icons who were neighbors when they were kids, and now, fans are just learning that something else happened between Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross. In a new interview, Robinson revealed that he and Ross had a year-long romantic affair while he was married to his first wife. After previously denying that they'd ever been anything more than friends and colleagues, the Motown legend shared details about their "beautiful" relationship, including why the affair ended. Read on to find out more.

READ THIS NEXT: Sophia Loren Admitted to an Affair With This Co-Star 26 Years After His Death.

Ross and Robinson grew up together.

Smokey Robinson and the Supremes in 1965
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The future stars grew up in the same Detroit neighborhood, along with fellow icon Aretha Franklin. Ross moved into the neighborhood when she was 10. Franklin was two years younger than Robinson, while he's four years older than Ross. During a 2015 appearance on Oprah's Master Class, Robinson said that Franklin was his oldest living friend (she passed away in 2018) and that Ross was his second oldest.

"It's beautiful to know we were kids playing together," Robinson told The Guardian. "And these people are some of the most famous people in the world now. We had such joy." He added, "We stayed lifelong friends."

The affair lasted a year.

Smokey Robinson circa mid-1960s
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Robinson denied to The Guardian that he and Franklin were ever involved romantically. "No, just friends," he said. "I do admit when I was about 15 I had a crush on her."

But, asked the same question with Ross, he had a different answer. "Yes, we did [have a thing]," Robinson admitted, adding that it lasted "about a year."

At the time, Robinson was married to his first wife, singer Claudette Rogers. Their marriage lasted from 1959 to 1986.

"We were working together and it just happened," the 83-year-old continued of his romance with Ross. "But it was beautiful. She's a beautiful lady, and I love her right till today. 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."

It happened when the Supremes were just getting started.

During a January interview with VladTV, Robinson explained that the affair began "after [he] got [The Supremes] signed to Motown … That's when that started." The singer added, "It lasted probably longer than it should've because I was married at the time."

Robinson is close friends with Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and began working with the producer when he was still in his group, The Miracles.

Ross was the one who ended it.

Diana Ross shopping in New York circa 1965
Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

According to Robinson, Ross broke up the relationship out of respect for his marriage.

"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," the "I Second That Emotion" singer said. "And I did. I loved my wife very much."

Robinson added, "You asked me what happened when we get older, and we get wisdom in life. 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. If we could control love, nobody would love anybody. Nobody would take that chance."

Robinson is currently married to his second wife, Frances Gladney. As for Ross, she was also married twice: to Robert Ellis Silberstein from 1971 to 1977 and to Arne Næss Jr. from 1986 to 2000.

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He denied the relationship in the past.

Robinson has been questioned about his relationship with Robinson many times, and until very recently, he always claimed that it was purely platonic. For example, when Access Hollywood asked if they ever dated in 2017, he answered, "Diana Ross is my really good friend, okay? We grew up four doors down the street from each other, and we've always been close."

"We've always been close and she's my really good friend," he continued. "She's my baby. I love her. We've always been close like that, and I actually brought her to Motown. We're just close and maybe perhaps it might have gotten misconstrued."

Best Life has reached out to a representative for Ross for comment.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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