Earlier this week, we wrote about the fact that Gayle King, on the last stop of Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour, the two spoke about the backlash she received for her questioning of Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s rape allegations. But with decades of friendship under their belt, they had quite a bit to discuss. At 65, Gayle has lived, chile.
In the early nineties, she went through a nasty divorce after she discovered her husband was having an affair with a friend of hers.
The two spoke about it on the tour. See what they had to say about that experience and what they each learned from it.
Oprah: I had to prepare for this interview. I wanted to prepare to see if there was something I hadn’t heard or didn’t know. So there was something.
Gayle: No there wasn’t.
Oprah: The producers told me last night that when you got a divorce—so Gayle went through a divorce.
Gayle: They were four and five, yes.
Oprah: In 1994. I felt like I went through the divorce. And at one point, she was going to get back together with her husband and I said, ‘Please do. Because I have been dragged through this divorce.”
Gayle: You know when you have a friend who you tell every niggly detail…
Oprah: Niggly, piggly, wiggly detail.
Gayle: Yes, I did. And she kept saying to me, ‘No, you shouldn’t. It’s a mistake. It’s a mistake.’ And finally, she said to me, ‘Puhleese get back with him. And I will send a moving truck.’ And I said to her, ‘Well, you don’t understand because you don’t have children. He was on his knees and he was crying.’ And you said, ‘Umm hmm. That doesn’t mean anything.’ And she said, ‘Please, get back with him!’ And I did.
Oprah: I said get back with him and it’s not going to last.
Gayle: And I thought that was mean. Because I was going in feeling very optimistic about this…
Oprah: So this is what I didn’t know, I read this last night. When you divorced, you told Kirby and Will that their father was at another house looking for a burglar.
Gayle: What had happened was, we were moving from one house to another, and I did say that ‘Daddy has to go into the other house because there’s a burglar. And Daddy’s going to help catch the burglar so he’s not going to be here for a while.’ And three weeks later, Will asked me, ‘Has Daddy caught the burglar yet?’ And I said, ‘No, no, he’s still trying.’
Because I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that we were getting a divorce. Now, I have to say, I’m surprised that you said you had never heard that story because at the time, Oprah you said, ‘That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.’ Doesn’t that sound like you?
Oprah: It does sound like me. It’s so stupid I forgot it.
Gayle: I’m embarrassed to tell you that that was the story because watching the Oprah show all those years, they tell you that you should just tell the kids the truth.
Oprah: The thing that I admire and respect the most about you is the way you handled your divorce, aside from that lie you told your children. Because it was one of those moments where you were taken by surprise.
Gayle: It’s called infidelity. Caught in your home, never good.
Oprah: It was so bad that Gayle called me the night that she’d come home with the children, came home early and hadn’t given a warning.
Gayle: Well, this was in the days before—remember when you didn’t have cell phones and the airline used call you and say ‘Your flight is canceled but we can get you on a flight if you leave right now.’ So I threw the kids in the car, we rushed to the airport. I came home, actually a day early. He wasn’t expecting to see me and I wasn’t expecting to see her.
Oprah: So he leaves. So Gayle calls me and says, ‘Is Stedman in the room?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She goes, ‘Tell him to leave the room. I don’t want him to hear this.’ So Stedman goes into the bathroom.
Gayle: Oprah says, ‘I don’t know what this is about but Gayle wants you to leave the room.’ Number one, who does that? But I said you can tell him later but I didn’t want him to hear it in pieces.
Oprah: Because she had just walked in on the couple. At that moment, I said, ‘You don’t even know how bad this is’ because your husband had left to take your mistress to the train station. And I said, ‘Oh this is worse than you can ever imagine.’
Gayle: She was married and they were friends of ours…You how they tell you the wife always knows, the wife always suspects? I had no clue, whatsoever.
Oprah: Well, I did.
Gayle: No, you didn’t.
Oprah: I did have a clue. The clue was when I was at your house and the phone rang. What’s that a clue?! The phone rang and the woman on the other end asks to speak to her husband. And I happen to be on the phone and when her husband gets to the phone, he said, ‘Nobody’s there.’ Now, I ain’t stupid. Somebody was there and it asked to speak to him in a very nice voice too.
Gayle: Which is a bold move when you think about it because she knew Oprah was there.
Oprah: That’s that whisper thing I’m telling you about.
Gayle: I do see that now. But at the time, I didn’t. But you said if you ignore the whispers, you get a brick wall and a catastrophe. Which is right because if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, it would have been explained away. They were both nude, by the way. So I even had to see that. But if they had been sitting there fully clothed, they could have said ‘We were discussing something, something, something.’ But it did have to be that graphic, that’s absolutely true. So I pay attention to all whispers at all times.
Oprah: It was a terrible moment and anybody has been betrayed that way, in your own home, you know how that destroys your spirit. How it shatters you. So if anybody’s gonna cheat, don’t bring the person to your home. That is the most disrespectful thing you can do. But in spite of that, you were the kind of mother who never said anything negative around your children, who wanted their father to still be engaged in their life and made it possible for him to still be in their life. Why?
Gayle: Yes! I think you have to love your children more than you’re mad at him. Plus nobody wants to hear, ‘You know what he did to me?’ Nobody cares, except your closest friends and even they get tired of hearing it. I’m happy to say that we can actually be friends and have a civil conversation. I’m very proud of that actually.
Oprah: I was saying to the audience, if you have anybody in your life who is not 100% happy for you, that person will end up sucking your energy. That can also be spouses. So I ask you this question, do you think you would be where you are now in your life, in your world, and in your career if you had remained married?
Gayle: I can say 150 percent absolutely not. Because, this was a very smart guy, Yale-educated lawyer, former cop, really smart, very good looking. All the good things. But for whatever reason, being married to me was difficult for him. And I can remember a conversation very clearly when he said, ‘I’ll be glad when this Gayle King sh*t is over.’ And I remember thinking, ‘God, I want somebody that kind of likes this Gayle King sh*t.’ So when you think of that, no.
I was just a local tv news anchor. It’s not like I was a big person. But you want somebody who celebrates your success, whatever that is. So, I found myself turning down things with you, turning down going to different places because I knew that would be upsetting to him.
Oprah: Playing yourself small.
Gayle: I definitely did that.
You can watch their full conversation in the video below.