Willie Nelson Reveals How His Ex-Wife Shirley Discovered His Longtime Affair

Willie Nelson recalled the surprising way his second wife Shirley discovered he was having a years-long affair with Connie Koepke, who would go on to become his third wife.

By Kisha Forde Dec 22, 2023 2:17 PMTags
Watch: Willie Nelson Reflects on Turning 90 & How Marijuana Saved His Life

Willie Nelson is on the road again—but this time, he's going down memory lane.
The country singer, 90, reflects on the ups and downs of his life in his new Paramount+ docuseries Willie Nelson & Family. In the four-part special, the songwriter lays out all the details of his relationships, including the shocking moment his second wife Shirley Collie found out he had been having a yearslong affair.
According to the "Pretty Paper" singer, his ex discovered he had welcomed a newborn with then-girlfriend Connie Koepke after finding a hospital bill in the mail that disclosed the birth of a baby girl named Paula.

"Shirley wanted to know who in the hell was Connie Nelson," Willie—who wed Shirley in 1963 after his breakup from first wife Martha Matthews—said in the docuseries. "The truth is, Connie had been my girlfriend for several years before becoming pregnant."

After finding out about the affair, Shirley's marriage to Willie unraveled, with the couple finalizing their divorce in 1971. Willie went on to tie the knot with Connie that same year and remained married until their split in 1988.

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Three years after his divorce from Connie, Willie married his current wife, makeup artist Annie D'Angelo. In his series, the dad of eight shared that he "never had met a woman like her before."

"She was whip-smart with a keen appreciation for all forms of art," he noted. "She was pretty and radiated enough energy to light up any room she entered. I fell head over heels in love with Anne Marie D'Angelo."

As for how he feels looking back at the tangled web of his personal life now?

Gary Miller/Getty Images for Shock Ink

"I've always said there's no such thing as a former wife," he explained. "Once in your life, a wife never leaves. I regret the pain I caused Connie, and Martha and Shirley before her. I have no excuses. I'd be hard-pressed to define love. I know God's love is pure, but worldly love is flawed love, and lots of times confused love."

Despite the journey, Willie is grateful for his destination.

"When it came to romance, I had a gift for complicating things," he shared, "but marrying Annie wasn't complicated at all. It's about the smartest thing I ever did."
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