MIAMI — Bob Green, a onetime radio DJ who married pop singer and Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant, was found dead Jan. 26 in his Miami Beach home. He was 80.
Green managed his wife’s rise to stardom as an entertainer and Florida citrus spokeswoman, then followed her into anti-gay activism, which ultimately destroyed their careers — and marriage in 1980.
For more than 30 years, Green lived quietly, alone and resentful.
“Bob internalized a lot of his own anger and frustration and disappointments,” Bryant, 71, said Wednesday from her Oklahoma City home. That’s what happens “if you don’t let your faith rise up and you give in to all those anxieties.
“The trouble with life is that it’s so daily. You have to have a mindset that you’re going to work out your problems and God is going to help you. But he’s not going to lay it all in your lap.”
Robert Einar Green was born on June 13, 1931, in the Bronx, to Swedish immigrants. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran and suffered from heart problems. He was on kidney dialysis at the time of his death, his sons said.
In 1977, Green and Bryant led a successful effort to repeal Miami-Dade County’s newly passed gay rights ordinance, Bryant out front and the tall, handsome Green behind the scenes, as he had been when he managed her singing career.
“He would maintain publicly that he was perfectly happy being Mr. Anita Bryant and making arrangements backstage instead of being the one in the limelight,” said Robert Jr. “She was the one who was visible. And getting all the credit for something they really created as a team. Maybe there was some kind of subconscious resentment.”
Robert Jr. a Chicago-area editor, said that his father “grew up a nominal Lutheran,” and became a devout Christian after his marriage.
The family’s pastor convinced Bryant to launch the successful gay-rights campaign, Green told the Miami Herald in 2007.
Green “kind of followed her lead, which he did when it came to religion or morals or that kind of thing,” Robert Jr. said. “She just had stronger convictions, I guess.”
Flush with victory in Miami-Dade, the couple founded Anita Bryant Ministries, which offered “deprogramming” and halfway houses for gays, and a lecture series called “Design for Successful Living,” aimed at battling divorce.
But Bryant’s campaign against the ordinance tanked her image. She lost her orange-juice gig, convention bookings, and her big-ticket income.
In June 1980, she filed for divorce, a scandal in the very Christian circles where she’d been revered.
Green begged her to reconcile in an open letter: “Let us both put aside all other earthly considerations and reunite in Christian love.”
Bryant wasn’t interested. She told People magazine: “Divorce is against everything I believe in. I wanted to save my marriage, but I decided that was not the route to go.”
The following year, she told a woman’s magazine that the marriage “was never much good to begin with,” and hinted that both had been unfaithful.
In 2007, Green told The Miami Herald that he blamed gay people for the turmoil in his life because “their stated goal was to put (Bryant) out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did. It’s unfair.”
Green was pursuing a broadcast career when he met Bryant. He’d studied drama, speech, and psychology at Trinity University, according to Robert Jr., and graduated from New York’s School of Radio and Television Technique in 1955. He got a job on camera at WJNO, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach.
In 1958, he moved to Miami, where he joined WINZ-AM radio as a rock/jazz DJ. The following year, said his son, “he escorted a … pop singer named Anita Bryant to a music-industry convention in Miami. They were married on June 25, 1960. Bob then gave up his broadcasting career to manage Anita’s career.”
She had multiple top-40 hits in the ‘60s, including three gold records by age 21, and made TV commercials for Coca-Cola.