Was Johnny Cash’s First Wife a Negress?

According to Johnny Cash, you are looking at “the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen,” above. Her name was Vivian Liberto. She became Cash’s first wife.

You know that the late Johnny Cash rose to fame in the mid 1950s, along with several others out of Sun Records, including Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

What may not be known to you is that Arkansas-born Johnny met his first wife right here in San Antonio, Texas 66 years ago. He was getting ready to ship out to Germany via the Air Force. When he returned three years later, the two were married in San Antonio, her hometown.

Vivian gave birth to Johnny’s first four children, including the singer Roseanne Cash. However, the marriage came to an end after 12 years when white country singer June Carter stole Johnny away from Vivian.

The subject of Johnny’s first marriage is interesting at several levels. For one, it illustrates how poor country boys from the sticks can be mesmerized by exotic women. It’s also illustrative to consider that after straying into exotic arms, Johnny ended up going back to his white roots.

Then there’s Texas law. It appears that while Texas (and the south in general) forbade marriages between whites and pure Negros that exceptions were made for marriages between whites and exotics.

Last, but not least, is the acceptance by fans of the interracial marriage of Cash and Vivian (who died a few years ago). My father was a big Cash fan, but I don’t think he knew anything about Cash’s personal life since he didn’t read fan magazines.

Officially, Vivian Liberto is Italian. Take a look at these old photos and see if you buy that story.

Are people as dark as vivian and with Negroidish features such as hers identifiable as white? Would they be allowed to live in a white country?

What do you think about this issue?

97 thoughts on “Was Johnny Cash’s First Wife a Negress?

  1. I wish I didn’t discover this. I did not know that about Johnny Cash. I grew up on Johnny Cash music and still love it. Wow.

    • It’s OK. It’s not like he fell for a black as coal mammy. Where I grew up in South Louisiana, lots of kids who went to the “white” school looked like her. Only the true, full blooded blacks had to go to a black school.

      • What is wrong with you people? This is utter racism… A persons race means nothing. Their actions define them. Who cares if she was black? She was absolutely stunning as is every other person of African descent. To be honest I pity Cash for leaving her because she was one hell of a woman.

      • Comments like this make me sick. I’m pretty sure they were the same race…. THE HUMAN RACE!!! It still shocks me how bigoted an ‘intelligent’ society can be.

  2. You can see the confusion in its eyes, and in the one photo where it’s reclining on the bed, deadness in its eyes. Whites can’t mimic that unless they’re retarded.

    • Yes , i see this and i’m agree .But i find that look very disturbing.
      I’m from north italy , she haven’t anything that resemble me of a woman of my folk.

    • This is rude and insulting. How can you say something like this? Stop using the r-word in circumstances of pure negativity, it is completely rude. My cousin was mentally ill. He died in the war of Syria. You disgust me.

  3. Did a quick search, looks liker her father’s line comes from Sicily. On the birth certificate both parents claim white. Maybe her looks come from her mom’s line mixed with her Sicilian roots.

    • Sud italy is more africa for me than europe .
      We call , in north italy , people from sud italy “terroni ” .Unfortunately they invaded northern Italy

  4. If there are 40 million offical Negros in the USA, there must also be another 10 or 20 million negros pretending to be white, and living as whites.

  5. A popular gambit, a long time ago, was for a black person to say that they weren’t a “Negroe,” they were Ethiopians. This woman may have claimed that she was descended from Italians who invaded Ethiopia.

  6. Thanks for the interesting background story. Johnny Cash was OK, but I was never much for “country twang” music.

    Vivian definitely looks a bit strange with a very large mouth, & she definitely needs an eyebrow makeover.

    Even so, what a stab to dump the mother of your first FOUR kids. That was probably a heart-killer for her.

    I was curious what June Carter looked like when she snagged Johnny Cash away from Vivian (Carter/Cash married 1968). I guess she was a redhead originally. Here’s a few photos:

  7. Back to Vivian, she was definitely a tiny little thing, whatever her mixture. The title with this photo says:

    “‘Drugs and June Carter’ – Johnny Cash’s First Wife Reveals What Ruined Their Marriage”

    • Links to the stories that go with that photo are below:

      “Johnny Cash’s first wife tells of romance, heartbreak”:

      You may have already read those but after reading two of them, I’m on Vivian’s side. A very touching story all around; she never stopped loving him even though she divorced him in 1966 when he was messing with June & crashing on drugs; divorce was final in 1967.

      Vivian remarried as well in 1968 to a police detective & spent her life busy in the community, volunteer work, garden clubs, raising their four daughters, knitting afghans, etc. She was never a druggie, drunk, etc. She was a “staunch Catholic” all her life & her Catholic priest uncle had married Vivian & Johnny.

      In their early years, Vivian & Johnny together wrote over 10,000 pages of love letters to each other when he was in the service. Vivian published her memoirs in a book, “I Walked the Line – My Life with Johnny” in which many of those letters are included.

      Vivian visited Johnny in 2003 & told him she was going to write a book, & he said, “Well, it’s about time!” lol. He died later that year. June died earlier the same year (how odd). Vivian died in 2005.

      Bottom Line: June was the aggressor who chased Johnny from the get-go & she was also a druggie who supplied drugs to JC, at least when they were younger; supposedly later she would flush his drugs down the toilet.



      Johnny Cash: 2/26/1932 – 9/12/2003; died from complications of diabetes at age 71.

      Vivian Dorraine Liberto Cash Distin: 4/23/1934 – 5/24/2005; died from complications from lung-cancer surgery at age 71.

      Valerie June Carter Cash: 6/23/1929 – 5/15/2003; died from complications of heart-valve surgery at age 73.

    • Tip: Remove anything after .jpg? and the pic will appear rather than the link. I took out he string of numbers and that’s why he pic is visible now.

      Cash was a big guy so I guess most women would looks small next to him. In the pic, she looks like a Flip.

      • Thank you, yes, I know about .jpg at the end, but if I remember correctly, I couldn’t find jpg embedded within one of the photo links at all. Thanks for finding/fixing it!

        Big Johnny was 6.1-1/2 or 6.2 per two different sites. So, yeah, probably any lady would look “petite” next to that. 🙂

  8. You guys must read this re Vivian. Wow, what a great lady & Mom & hostess & wife & grandmother. I doubt “exotic” ladies do all these things, the lady was a walking “craft shop” who could make anything with her hands, all the the household things that wives/mothers love to do (reminds me of my grandmother), plus cooking for holidays, making cookies, chocolates, etc. She had two dogs, too.

    This is a beautiful story with a beautiful photo of Vivian with silver hair (see above) at Find-A-Grave, she no longer looks “exotic”; plus there are two later photos of her where she looks like a regular “plump” white older lady…

  9. Wow, didn’t know. thought his ex-wife was caucasian and never bother to look at it till this and I’m jaw drop. Then why in heck the movie made his ex-wife appeared to be a Caucasian in the movie called “Walk the Line”?SMH. it’s shocking that he chooses to marry her since she looks too obvious negro. Do understand why Johnny Cash want to divorce her then married June.I went ahead to search if fans had been boycotted Johnny Cash in back then? here the title “Johnny Cash’s dark California days” Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/12/entertainment/la-et-ms-johnny-cash-calif/4
    what more I found photo the newspaper “Arrest Exposes Johnny Cash’s Negro Wife then at the bottom said “Press story: Unknowing country music fans buy records. I tried to post in this and couldn’t.

    • It was a shock to me to see what she looked like too. This post is drawing more attention than I thought it would. In all honesty, I didn’t think very many people would be interested since its sort of ancient history.

      • Looking at some of the comments from some seriously disgusting people. You put people down for their race as if it makes you somehow superior…. and yet my 10 year old has a better grasp of language and grammar than some of these ‘superior’ folks.

    • Exactly!! Look at the profile picture he hides behind. A wolf in sheeps clothing as the saying goes. Doubt he has a Ph.D. Coward! What a shame people like him exist. Stuck in the 60’s. Catch up moron. Times have changed and the whole “exotic” thing doesn’t make it sound less racist after your comments. You all are “exotic”!!

      • THANK YOU I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I CANNOT WITH EVERY WHITE RACIST REDNECK CONFEDERATE FLAG LOVING BIGOT ON HERE!! They simply try to conceal there words like they are a different species from those a different color from them… No we are all human, whether black or white. Adam and Eve could very well have been black. Stop being racist. A color does not define an individual, their actions do. And all your actions lead you guys to be complete idiots and fools. People full of hate and prejudice. You guys are the reason this world is so fucked up…and maybe we do hide behind screens because we fear your psychopathic abilities. I mean look at all the school shootings committed by mentally unstable racist white people, “Just sayin'” 🙂

  10. negress? coal ass mammy? a full black women would never be a great mother, hostess, cook? you guys have serious issues indeed.

      • God damn it! Dude stfu you bring actual conservatives to shame. It’s not political dumb ass, it’s being racist your a racist that’s all there is to it. All men are created equal! Take my advise for the sake of your offspring you need to to mix with some who you aren’t related to. Damn inbreeding is so sad your an example of it sir!

    • Come on! Even as a devout racist, you can’t really believe that black women can’t be good mothers, hostesses and great cooks, JUST because they’re black. NO disrespect at all, sincerely, but saying things like that make your views sound like anger, with no real reasoning behind it. Anger is just an emotion, and most of the time it passes, or at least loses its heat, so to speak. Making crass, very predictable, dated, clearly just passionate opinions that happen to fit your beliefs, with no facts or even a serious and relevant example to understand how you came to feel that way, and just the mean spirited approach, makes your claims hard to believe or even take seriously. Being THAT obviously angry and saying silly, very simple, tried and true, same old same old racist ideals and almost inneffective in its “gee, we need some new material, that doesn’t even make sense to US anymore” mindset, is not helping your cause. It doesn’t sound appealing in any way-it sounds personal, like it belongs in your daily journal. Not persuasive-only playing into the stereotypes that plague that thinking and delivery.
      Not EVERYONE is that angry. Or that disillusioned. The VAST majority of people in this country want facts, figures and examples before attempting to seriously modify our entire moral and ethical compass. It is our God given and American born right to question, ponder, accept or reject a belief system. We are all America. Not the soil-the people who inhabit her and love her and wouldn’t be anywhere else on earth, given a choice. Anger isn’t a pass or an excuse, a legitimate or even a logical reason to hate or revile those who will, one day in the very near future, be that VAST majority. That would be treason to only uphold, support and defend a portion of our beautiful home, versus all of it. In order for any great number of Americans to turn their back on the greatest people from the greatest country, and the most brilliant social experiment, EVER to feel God’s grace, hateful, divisive, opinions, antiquated thoughts, views, and embarrassing, offensive, and frankly, un-American attitudes will not sway in any way, true Americans who believe the constitution is the only thing that selfishly belongs to each one of us individually, yet we gladly share it.

      • Johnny Cash’s first wife was truly a beautiful looking human being & all the negatives about her are dispicable & I’m white by the way.

  11. In the 1980s I worked with two part Coons who identified as white. One was a US Southerner, who was probably one quarter black. The other was an abo who may have been quarter or even half Abo. The US guy was nice, the abo was not. The abo was very ugly, as most Boongs are. The US guy has a rounded face, big mouth and smile, dark hair, dark eyes, various other things like a brown skin even in winter – not white. He married a white Australian girl and they went to live in the USA.

    Nowadays, especially for any unemployed or down and out person in the West, self-identifying as black may be the smarter thing to do. Housing and other benefits are assigned to non-whites first, especially in countries like Australia. Abos go to the front of the queue.

    • Exactly, mulatto/quadroon/octoroon. And she looks ‘tarded, wondering if she really was that way. Ugly in her youth, much better looking in old age, when she looks like a lighter version of Dionne Warwick. Oh and Elvis wasnt that mixed. Jewish mother, Scottish father, u get the picture, but hey many celebs think that adding other races/ethnicities to their family tree makes them more “exotic” or interesting. Bullshit of course. And lets get back to music, real music, it matters much more than Cash’s interbreeding or Elvis’ ethnicity. What now, u wont listen to Cash anymore coz at some point he married a nignog? Get real! June Carter looked like a man in the face after a certain age anyway and much older. At least she was really pretty in her youth compared to the negress. Wondering if there were only 4 years difference between them.

      • I think Vivian looked ” ‘tarded” in her younger years because she had a “lazy eye” in her right eye; plus possibly “permed” hair (or naturally kinky?). Permanents were a big deal in those years. Plus she was super skinny. She didn’t “blossom” as a woman until later.

        If you’ve seen photos of the very young Dionne Warwick, she also was not very pretty at all, super skinny. However, she looked much better the older she got. I suppose some women “blossom” later rather than earlier.

      • Correction: Vivian’s left eye, not right, looks like a “lazy eye.”

        Above, last comment, was to Wullfe. I should be more specific in these replies.

      • He did not marry a “nignog”. And the Sicilian that you mistakenly call a “negress” was a lot better looking than the plain white horse June-bug Carter.

      • He stayed married to June. He cheated on and divorced the “nignog” or whatever she was. The point was not about beauty, but about whether interracial marriage works. For the white profs at my university who married Mexicans, it didn’t.

    • I’m no expert but I agree. I don’t think she looked that “black.” How many black families have Roman Catholic priests as relatives? But Italians surely would. 😉

  12. The true exotics of the world are the Rh negatives and those Rh positives with the alleles for Rh negative. Nordics are the true exotics of the world.

    • Some white men want to get down and dirty with sex. Picking an “exotic” is one way to do it. I noticed that the white male profs at the university who married browns and then divorced went back to white women the way Johnny Cash did.

  13. It’s a fact Sicily Italy was invaded by Morrs from Africa in Ancient times which interbreeding took place. I have noticed in my life time that some Italian women I’ve seen and met have black features.

      • Because of whites like you, that is why God is allowing the white race to be the minority in this country. Please continue the hate until your race is completely diminished. Thank you for your contribution. LOL.

  14. One thing people should remember, is that we are all human beings, ,and we are one species with variations within that one species. The blackest of black from. the Sudan can have a child with a pure Asian from China and a pure White person from Poland. These same people can exchange organs and blood to save each other’s life.

    Vivan was a beautiful woman, civic minded and a good mother. Negroid features are not ugly as some ignorance people have suggested. Look at the number of people in the world who go to plastic surgeons to get pull lips and tan their skin. Variations among human are adaptations and are beautiful.
    Johhny Cash loved and had four children with Vivian. Race is nothing but a label anyway.

  15. i know vivian’s family and the priest that married them. visited with him many times.In fact the priest(father V) and vivian liberto are third cousins of mine. She is definetly not negro but italian (sicilian). never got to meet her but knew very well some of her uncles and aunts. My grandmother was a liberto before she was married.

  16. Given that she is from San Antonio, and based on her maiden name, I would assume she was Mexican. Most Mexicans are racially mixed between White Spanish and Native American with some African ancestry in some family lines. Based on her looks I would assume she has some African DNA, but primarily I would imagine she is of Mexican descent.

  17. Who cares if she was black. It’s sad to think they lived in a time and placed where her ethnicity is something they had to hide.

  18. I’m so glad that the majority of the comments on this ugly, hate-filled post are positive. Miss Liberto was a beautiful woman and a loving mother, regardless of what color she is. Your obsession with two long perished people and whatever they may have identified or chose to love shows how bitter and ugly, YOU actually are. Freedom of speech says that you are allowed to say these things, per the gov’t, but when it comes to actual people seeing the ugly nonsense you post here, you better expect to be questioned/challenged/and proven WRONG.

      • What’s your doctorate in, National Socialism? My God, the year of Our Lord 2018, and there are still people like you out there. Between your kind and the useful-idiot Stalinist wannabes, is there any room for sane normal thinking human beings in America any more? No wonder your country is tearing itself to pieces. And BTW, Mrs. Cash was Italian-American, everyone who knows ANYTHING about the man and his life knows this.

      • My high school history teacher was a Confederate and an admirer of Hitler and National Socialism, pointing out AH’s enormous economic and cultural achievements, which motivated Roosevelt’s and Churchill’s jealousy.

        One of my economics professors, Dr. Touissant Hocevar was from Austria. He too seemed to admire National Socialism, although not as explicitly as my history teacher.

        In the south, many light skinned blacks “passed” for white by claiming to be Italian. New Orleans boxing champ Ralph Dupas (deceased like my teacher and professor) passed for white.

        The point of this piece is to speculate on how Cash’s fans would react to him being married to a light skinned black woman, if she was known to be black.

  19. Wooooooow insee a lot of racist little fools commenting on here with unnecessary racist words. Johnny Cash married a black woman. WHAT OF IT? It doesn’t effect you. Get over it.

    • Exactly!!! It doesn’t matter and it was what it was. If the original question was” What his fans would’ve done had they known”?…why were there so many comments about her appearance in such a negetive light? They just need to Go and get a life to live!!

  20. First of all, the language in this article is incredibly offensive. “Negress”? Christ among us. Secondly, Johnny Cash was not, in fact, white… So to say he was attracted to “exotic” women is just ridiculous. He was attracted to women. Period. Vivian is a beautiful QUEEN and the language in this article and in the comments should never be used to describe a woman of her caliber.

  21. This is a disgusting example of humanity. I can NOT believe the language in this article and the comment that was written in this day and age. Someone actually referred to Vivian multiple times as “IT.” Reading this stuff was like stepping back 60 years in our history. I guess hate and evil don’t ever die. I feel sorry for how you all live your daily lives filled with so much hate towards others instead of focusing on your energy elsewhere

  22. May God help you, whoever owns this website because clearly you have some issues. And I just want to let you know, this will all bite you in the back, hard. Compassion is something critical to humanity, you lack it. And thats fine, just dont expect yourself and your offspring to survive with all the hate you have. There will be a time when the entire human race will be mixed, there will be no white people left except you and your family. Guess what then? The roles are reversed. And the hate you implement for them will be transitioned to you.. Thats reality buddy. “exotic” “negress” what the hell is wrong with you? It does not matter how you put it, that is pure racism and judgement. Shame on you. That’s all I can say. I wish you were a fraction as good as Vivian. But you arent, you are an utterly disgusting hateful bigot. I feel sorry for you. People like you will never feel love in their heart. Good luck.

  23. Vivian Cash was GORGEOUS! Why on earth would he leave her for a plane Jane like June? Oh yeah, because he was a drug addict and June was his supplier, a fellow drug addict/alcoholic, and chased him like a dog while his REAL wife tried to clean him up for their 4 children. But Addicts stick together. It’s called codependency. Don’t believe me? Look it up, their son finally told all the truth about how they squandered their money and stayed in drugged out stupors (in front of their children) most of their married life together. How romantic!

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