Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'? - TennisForum.com
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

She was married to Larry King from 1961 to 1981. Why did she keep his name after their divorce?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 02:58 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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She was married to Larry King from 1961 to 1981. Why did she keep his name after their divorce?
Good question Rimon. I can only speculate, but if one thinks about it retaining her married name makes perfect sense.

One thing to realize is that Billie Jean and Larry stayed married until 1987. The Barnett affair wasn't a deal breaker for Larry, who doubtless knew about some of Billie Jean's relationships just as his some of his relationships were no secret to her. Their complicated marriage worked well enough for them. One senses a lot of mutual respect on both sides. The best reason I've heard for their divorce was Larry's desire to have children.

Back to your question though: For one thing her fame came about entirely as Mrs King. To the public she's Billie Jean King, simple as that, and trying to market her as Billie Jean Moffitt made no sense at all. And while the Barnett affair hurt her endorsements in the short term she has bounced back quite nicely.

These days she's all over TV with commercials. She's been talking up her recent knee operation (she was on Fox news in the morning not two weeks ago) and looking quite spritely.

All of that suggests to me that she's still very marketable, with many older consumers linking her to her glory days from 1973. From a money point of view Billie Jean King just works.

Besides that a lot a women her in the US keep their married names after a divorce. My mother still uses her married name despite divorcing my father.

That's all pure guesswork on my part-but it's as good an explanation as any. I'll be curious to read what others think.

Last edited by Rollo; Jun 28th, 2011 at 03:06 AM.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 03:11 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by rimon View Post
She was married to Larry King from 1961 to 1981. Why did she keep his name after their divorce?
The were married 1965 to 1987. Why not? It was her personal decision, and I find nothing odd or unusual about it. It was her name too, by the way.

Prominent women tennis players: http://tennis-women.blogspot.com
Billie Jean Moffitt King's playing career: http://billie-jean-moffitt-king.blogspot.com

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 11:13 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by austinrunner View Post
The were married 1965 to 1987. Why not? It was her personal decision, and I find nothing odd or unusual about it. It was her name too, by the way.
Maybe she just likes the name, maybe it was to preserve the "BJK" brand. Maybe as she'd been BJK for as long as she'd been BJ Moffit, she identified more with her husband's name than with her father's name. In any case, I can't imagine that a woman as bright as she is didn't think about it carefully.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

A number of possible reasons come to mind:

-she grew tired of the curds and whey comments

-she didn't want to be known as brother Randy's sister all her life, and just never got over it

-she's a type A personality and has secretly always wanted to be King instead of Queen

-(most likely) even though Larry King has stated more than once he didn't want a divorce, They, by most accounts had a very open relationship, and he was instrumental in building Billie Jean's career. He took care of the off-court details, gave up his aspirations of becoming a successful attorney, and was supporting her all the way for all those years. He was right by her side during the Barnett inquisition, and devoted much of his life to furthering Billie Jean's WTT dreams, not to mention the Battle of the Sexes. Maybe they just like each other and have remained friends through thick and thin, and Billie Jean has always had respect for him.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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A number of possible reasons come to mind:

-she grew tired of the curds and whey comments

-she didn't want to be known as brother Randy's sister all her life, and just never got over it

-she's a type A personality and has secretly always wanted to be King instead of Queen
Thanks for my good laugh of the day Jeff. Miss Moffitt lost her toffitt.

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-(most likely) even though Larry King has stated more than once he didn't want a divorce, They, by most accounts had a very open relationship, and he was instrumental in building Billie Jean's career. He took care of the off-court details, gave up his aspirations of becoming a successful attorney, and was supporting her all the way for all those years. He was right by her side during the Barnett inquisition, and devoted much of his life to furthering Billie Jean's WTT dreams, not to mention the Battle of the Sexes. Maybe they just like each other and have remained friends through thick and thin, and Billie Jean has always had respect for him.
Agreed. Lets not make him Saint Larry though. He pursued business interests as "Mr Billie Jean King" that he could never have done as a mere attorney. Whatever the personal nature of their relationship it also had political overtones in the same way the Clintons marriage has.

Larry had at least one child when he remarried. He also played a role in promoting Roller Derby (now that's a blast from the past) and recently is trying to promote a poker circuit.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2011, 11:58 PM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
...and recently is trying to promote a poker circuit.
Ah, so Bobby Riggs actually did actually get to King.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 03:37 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by rimon View Post
Why did she keep his name after their divorce?
That question is offensive because it assumes that "King" is "his" name and not hers.

Prominent women tennis players: http://tennis-women.blogspot.com
Billie Jean Moffitt King's playing career: http://billie-jean-moffitt-king.blogspot.com

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 04:00 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

When she beat Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King the tennis player became "Billie Jean King," the matron saint of the Women's Lib movement. The name became bigger than the person.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 08:22 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by darrinbaker00 View Post
The name became bigger than the person.
That's ridiculous.

Prominent women tennis players: http://tennis-women.blogspot.com
Billie Jean Moffitt King's playing career: http://billie-jean-moffitt-king.blogspot.com

Tafadhali usijisumbue kugusa mwili wangu ulioza!
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
Good question Rimon. I can only speculate, but if one thinks about it retaining her married name makes perfect sense.

One thing to realize is that Billie Jean and Larry stayed married until 1987. The Barnett affair wasn't a deal breaker for Larry, who doubtless knew about some of Billie Jean's relationships just as his some of his relationships were no secret to her. Their complicated marriage worked well enough for them. One senses a lot of mutual respect on both sides. The best reason I've heard for their divorce was Larry's desire to have children.

Back to your question though: For one thing her fame came about entirely as Mrs King. To the public she's Billie Jean King, simple as that, and trying to market her as Billie Jean Moffitt made no sense at all. And while the Barnett affair hurt her endorsements in the short term she has bounced back quite nicely.

These days she's all over TV with commercials. She's been talking up her recent knee operation (she was on Fox news in the morning not two weeks ago) and looking quite spritely.

All of that suggests to me that she's still very marketable, with many older consumers linking her to her glory days from 1973. From a money point of view Billie Jean King just works.

Besides that a lot a women her in the US keep their married names after a divorce. My mother still uses her married name despite divorcing my father.

That's all pure guesswork on my part-but it's as good an explanation as any. I'll be curious to read what others think.


This (most likely) will have nothing to do with this posting, but it was the only place that I could think of adding it:

I recall reading in a book (not sure if it was one of BJK's autobiography's or a book about women's tennis.

A reporter asked Billie Jean how she felt about being listed as Mrs. L. W. King at Wimbledon? To which she replied "I think feminists get held up on too many trivial things". I often wondered if she got much flack about that statement.

As for my reply to this thread. Every one knows her as Billie Jean King, not so much as Billie Jean Moffitt. So, I think she just decided to keep it that way.

And, as for the Marilyn Barnett bit, don't get me started. 2 bits from the book of Grace Liechtenstein - "A Long Way Baby" kinda told folks (who were gay, or could read between the lines about) about Billie Jean's bisexuality/lesbianism.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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That question is offensive because it assumes that "King" is "his" name and not hers.
Huh? It WAS (originally) "his" name. Today in our society a woman (thankfully) has choices. She could have switched to her maiden anme after the divorce as other tennis players have. Rimon was just asking what was behind her choice.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by darrinbaker00
The name became bigger than the person.

That's ridiculous.

I think Darrin is right in some ways. The name IS bigger than the actual person. The name has had so many labels attached to it, people projecting thier own loves hates and prejudices onto Billie Jean the icon, whereas Billie jean the person is a much more nuanced and complex character.

Last edited by Rollo; Jun 29th, 2011 at 01:53 PM.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2011, 01:58 PM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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A reporter asked Billie Jean how she felt about being listed as Mrs. L. W. King at Wimbledon? To which she replied "I think feminists get held up on too many trivial things". I often wondered if she got much flack about that statement.

As for my reply to this thread. Every one knows her as Billie Jean King, not so much as Billie Jean Moffitt. So, I think she just decided to keep it that way.

And, as for the Marilyn Barnett bit, don't get me started. 2 bits from the book of Grace Liechtenstein - "A Long Way Baby" kinda told folks (who were gay, or could read between the lines about) about Billie Jean's bisexuality/lesbianism.
As King has said repeatedly "I hate labels".


There is a new book about about called Game, Set, Match. It referenced Grace dropping clues in her book, still one of my top 3 tennis books of all time. Apparently Grace became persona non grata after the book came out, a lot like Michael Menshaw did after his book hit the stands.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 30th, 2011, 03:43 AM
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Re: Why did Billie Jean keep the last name 'King'?

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Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
Huh? It WAS (originally) "his" name.
We're not talking about what existed "originally." Once she got married and switched her last name to "King," it was just as much her name as her husband's. The question should be, "Why did Billie Jean King decide not to revert to her maiden name after she got divorced?"

Prominent women tennis players: http://tennis-women.blogspot.com
Billie Jean Moffitt King's playing career: http://billie-jean-moffitt-king.blogspot.com

Tafadhali usijisumbue kugusa mwili wangu ulioza!
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