Phyllis Nesmith was the first wife of Michael Nesmith, a singer, songwriter, and actor who was best known as a member of the pop-rock band The Monkees. She was also a mother, a writer, and a philanthropist who supported various causes. She died in 2010 from ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This article will explore her biography, her marriage to Michael Nesmith, and her legacy.
A Colorado Girl with a Dream
Phyllis Nesmith was born as Phyllis Ann Barbour on March 25, 1946, in Denver, Colorado. She grew up in a middle-class family and had a passion for writing and literature. She attended the University of Colorado, where she majored in English and minored in journalism. She also wrote for the campus newspaper and the literary magazine.
She had a dream of becoming a novelist and a journalist, and moved to Los Angeles in 1963 to pursue her career. She worked as a secretary at a publishing company and a receptionist at a radio station. She also wrote short stories and poems, and submitted them to various magazines and contests.
A Monkee’s Wife and a Mother of Three
In 1964, she met Michael Nesmith, a young musician who had just signed a contract with Colpix Records. They fell in love and got married on June 8, 1964, in a small ceremony at a chapel in Tijuana, Mexico. They settled in a modest apartment in Hollywood, and soon welcomed their first child, a son named Christian, in 1965.
Their marriage coincided with the rise of Michael’s fame as a member of The Monkees, a band that was created for a television show of the same name. The show, which aired from 1966 to 1968, was a huge success, and The Monkees became one of the most popular bands of the era. They sold millions of records, toured the world, and starred in a movie called Head.
Phyllis supported her husband’s career, but also faced the challenges of being a celebrity’s wife. She had to deal with the constant media attention, the fans’ adoration, and the rumors of infidelity. She also had to raise their children, who grew to three with the addition of a second son, Jonathan, in 1968, and a daughter, Jessica, in 1970.
Phyllis and Michael tried to maintain a normal family life, and moved to a ranch in Carmel Valley, California, in 1969. They also became involved in various charitable and social causes, such as the Monterey Pop Festival Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.
A Divorce and a New Beginning
However, their marriage was not meant to last. Phyllis and Michael grew apart, and decided to divorce in 1972. They remained friends, and shared the custody of their children. Phyllis received a generous settlement, which included a share of Michael’s royalties from The Monkees.
Phyllis used her money to pursue her own interests and passions. She traveled the world, studied different cultures and religions, and wrote a novel called Capricorn One, which was published in 1978. She also remarried in 1980, to a man named Bill Gibson, a businessman and a philanthropist. They lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and supported various organizations, such as the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, and the ALS Association.
A Battle with ALS and a Legacy of Love
In 2008, Phyllis was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal condition that causes the muscles to weaken and eventually paralyze. She fought the disease with courage and grace, and continued to live her life to the fullest. She spent time with her family and friends, wrote her memoirs, and donated to ALS research and awareness.
Phyllis died on February 13, 2010, at the age of 63, surrounded by her loved ones. She was buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, next to her husband Bill, who had died in 1999. She left behind a legacy of love, creativity, and generosity, and was remembered by many as a beautiful, smart, and kind woman.