Countless women have faced unimaginable challenges during the most vulnerable stages of their lives, yet their stories of resilience and triumphant emergence from adversity are nothing short of inspiring. The power of female resurrection is a testament to the indomitable spirit that women exhibit in the face of daunting circumstances. These stories illuminate the strength and fortitude with which women reclaim their lives and find solid ground on their terms.
One example is the story of Myra Gale Lewis Williams, the wife of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis. Their controversial relationship becomes the focal point in ‘What the (bleep) Did I Marry?: The Child Bride.’ Myra Gale Brown, born with that maiden name, found herself thrust into the world of rock ‘n’ roll at a tender age. Her father, J W Brown, initiated a band in Memphis, Tennessee, and invited his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis, to join. In December 1957, Myra was just 13 when Lewis, who was 22 and was also her cousin, married her. Adding to the problematic nature of the relationship, Lewis was already married to Jane Mitcham at the time of his union with Myra. Portraying the remarkable perseverance of a young girl who had only herself to rely on for support, the episode recounts her life from hereon and how she dealt with hat was thrown at her.
Myra was Married to Jerry Lee Lewis for 12 Years
The scandal of Myra and Lewis’ relationship unfolded during a tour in London in May 1958 when a persistent reporter probed Myra about her relationship with Lewis. After initially avoiding the inquiry, she eventually divulged that she was, indeed, Lewis’s wife. This revelation, coupled with her age, her familial connections with Lewis, and his existing marriage, precipitated a rapid and detrimental decline in Lewis’s once-promising rock ‘n’ roll career.
Following Jerry Lee Lewis’s divorce from Jane Mitcham, he remarried Myra in 1958. The couple started the journey of building a life together, welcoming a son named Steve Allen Lewis in 1959. However, their joy was short-lived, as the young boy succumbed to a drowning accident in a swimming pool in 1962. They found some solace in the birth of their daughter, Phoebe Lewis, in 1963, whom both Myra and Lewis cherished deeply. However, Lewis’s struggles with drug abuse, alcoholism, and infidelity cast a shadow over their marriage. The strain became untenable, leading to their divorce in 1970, with Myra citing grounds of abuse and infidelity. She bravely asserted that throughout their marriage, she had endured unimaginable physical and mental mistreatment.
Life After Divorce was Not Easy for Myra
After her divorce from Jerry Lee Lewis, Myra took another plunge into matrimony by marrying Pete Malito, the private detective she had initially hired to investigate Lewis’s infidelity. However, this union did not last very long, and Myra and Malito parted ways in 1972. Despite the end of their marital relationship, Myra remained connected with Lewis due to their shared responsibility of co-parenting their daughter, Phoebe. Phoebe found employment within Lewis’s successful venture into country music, providing Myra with occasions to interact with Lewis during her visits.
Transitioning into a different phase of her life, Myra entered the workforce as a receptionist, eventually evolving into a real estate agent by 1980. With a desire to share her life story, Myra engaged the services of Murray Silver to pen her autobiography but after the editing process, the book did not emerge as one and was published as ‘Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis,’ in 1982. In 1984, Myra found love anew in Richard Williams, a fellow real estate broker in Atlanta. The two tied the knot, marking a fresh chapter in Myra’s journey.
Myra Gale Lewis Williams is an Author Today
In 1989, the book ‘Great Balls of Fire’ transitioned into a film adaptation with the same title. Starring Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis and Winona Ryder as Myra, the movie brought Myra’s story to the big screen. While pleased with Ryder’s portrayal and the choice of the cast, Myra found herself somewhat sidelined during the filmmaking process as she had been consulted only in the beginning. She did not feel that the struggles of being a woman who was forced to muddle through such challenging times were accurately portrayed in the film.
Myra had built a life for herself in Atlanta with her husband, daughter, her parents, and brother, Rusty Brown, who had also relocated. Establishing her community, Myra contributed to the 2014 book ‘What We Talk About When We’re Over 60,’ offering insights alongside 30 women from diverse professions and backgrounds, all sharing their stories while residing in Atlanta.
In 2016, Myra took a reflective stance as she published her memoir, ‘The Spark That Survived.’ With wisdom and maturity, she crafted a candid narrative that spared no details, offering a heartfelt experience for readers. By this time, her daughter Phoebe had distanced herself from her father, Jerry Lee Lewis, upon discovering his affair with his sister-in-law, severing Myra’s ties with him completely.
In 2022, when Lewis passed away at the age of 87, Myra shared her sentiments with the media, expressing sorrow at the loss of one of the entertainment industry’s giants. During this time, she also revisited the challenges and tribulations of her marriage, providing insights into her remarkable journey. 79 years old today, Myra continues to live in Atlanta and is an author. She is very happy that her daughter, who is the “light of her life” is married and settled in Virginia. It has been an arduous journey for Myra but looking back at her life, everyone will agree that hers is a story that needs to be retold time and time again.