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Mike Nesmith was historically known as the “quiet Monkee” throughout The Monkees two-season run on NBC. However, off camera, he was known for being a man who always had something interesting to say. Nesmith, as the only married man of the group, had a different perspective on the romantic fluidity of swinging sixties. He once told an interviewer that although he was married, he wouldn’t “settle” for just one woman.

Mike Nesmith on the set of the television show The Monkees in November 1967 in Los Angeles, California.
Mike Nesmith | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Mike Nesmith married Phyllis Barbour in 1963, ahead of his Monkees success

Nesmith and Phyllis Barbour met when both attended San Antonio’s Baylor College. Nesmith spoke lovingly of Barbour in his book “Infinite Tuesday.” He wrote, “Phyllis was literate, and her literacy saved me from illiteracy. I knew almost nothing about her except that I was drawn to her intelligence and grace. Most importantly, she was a terrific girlfriend and an even better wife.”

He continued that early in their relationship, the couple found themselves facing an unexpected pregnancy. “My girlfriend, Phyllis Barbour, was pregnant, my biological family would not have understood, and I wanted to write and sing songs and make my living in the arts.

“My girlfriend being pregnant and our being unmarried exacerbated the problems of relations among relatives, so Phyllis and I quickly married and fled to California.” The couple’s son Christian was born in 1965. The Nesmiths welcomed Jonathan, born in 1968, and Jessica, born in 1970.

After several years of toiling around LA as a performer and songwriter, and serving as the “Hootmaster” for the Monday night hootenanny at The Troubadour, a West Hollywood nightclub that featured new artists, Nesmith stumbled upon The Monkees audition, which would ultimately change his professional life.

At the height of his ‘Monkees’ fame, Mike Nesmith once said he wouldn’t ‘settle’ for one woman

In September 1967, Movie Mirror Magazine spoke to Nesmith at the height of his Monkees fame. The website Cool Cherry Cream reprinted the interview.

The interviewer discussed Nesmith’s success through how he lived. The story contained the following passage.

“The house he lives in cost about one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. He owns five cars, at last count, and recently paid a couple of thousand for two Great Danes. They’re good dogs, better, evidently, than the female hound dog he got for nothing about a year ago.”

In the feature, Nesmith’s friend was asked how the female dog felt when the Great Danes arrived. “She’ll get over it. She’ll have to, I guess. Y’see, one of anything doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not made that way.”

The friend replied, “I know something you can only have one of… unless you’ve got a permit to practice polygamy.”

It was the following passage that led to a stunning admission by Nesmith about his feelings regarding monogamy. Nesmith said, “One WIFE is all I need,” said Mike. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to settle for one woman.”

He and Barbour divorced in 1972

Mike and Phyllis Nesmith at the taping of "Jose Feliciano Television Special" on April 11, 1969 at ABC TV Studios in Los Angeles, California.
Mike and Phyllis Nesmith in 1969 | Ron Gallella/Getty Images

‘The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith Once Told a Reporter of His ‘Difficult’ Personality, ‘You Can Never Be Too Sure About Me’

Movie Mirror quoted a second of Nesmith’s friends who appeared to piggyback on Nesmith’s statement.

“Mike’s not like these guys who get a little money and fame and flip their lid….” He’s a TV star, and I’m still hustling for gigs, but he’s no different. Mike loves his wife, and Phyllis knows this. He and Phyllis believe in nature. Mike thinks a man should go with his instincts, not the ones that a hypocritical society talks about. He is like a lot of young guys I know who feel that man is a polygamous animal. That doesn’t mean you can’t love and respect your wife.”

Nesmith concurred, “M’ wife and I understand many things that other people don’t dig. It’s a question of knowing how to accept the good things and the bad.”

Nesmith additionally had a son, Jason, born in August 1968 to photographer Nurit Wilde, whom he met while working on The Monkees. He and Barbour split in 1972 amid claims he’d had an affair with Kathryn Bild. He and Bild married in 1976. In 2000, he married his third wife, Victoria Kennedy, but the marriage ended in divorce in 2011