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Aretha Franklin 'Was Helpless': Inside The Backstage Moment The Singer Found Out Her Father Was Critically Shot

Feb. 12 2021, Published 2:18 p.m. ET

Most Americans know the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin sold tens of millions of records in a career that led to numerous Grammy Awards and a place in the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But most don't know that her father, C.L. Franklin, was famous too.

Now, Geraldo Rivera takes viewers back to the night that the pastor and civil rights leader was critically shot by home intruders in the upcoming REELZ documentary Murder in the Family: Aretha Franklin, airing Saturday, February 13.

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A pastor in Detroit, C.L. was a friend to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and was known for his sermons and by his nickname: The Man With The Million Dollar Voice.

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Some of his most famous sermons were "Dry Bones in the Valley" and "The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest"; the latter was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Franklin was also known for his singing, which probably doesn't come as a surprise given his daughter Aretha's acclaimed musical journey.

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However, the beloved pastor met a fate that many had not expected.

On June 10, 1979, burglars invaded C.L.'s home. After being shot twice, Aretha's father was rushed to Henry Ford Hospital in a semi-comatose state, from which he never recovered. Meanwhile, his daughter was on stage performing.

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aretha franklin father c l franklin murder geraldo rivera reelz documentary
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"Two-thousand miles away from the scene, [Aretha] was helpless so she prays with her cousin backstage, hoping to see her father alive again," says entertainment journalist Alicia Quarles in the upcoming doc. 

C.L. sadly passed away on July 27, 1984, aged 69, in Detroit's New Light Nursing Home. But now, REELZ asks, "Will the cops find justice for Aretha Franklin’s murder in the family?"

Tune in to Murder in the Family: Aretha Franklin on Saturday, February 13, at 9 p.m. ET on REELZ.

SEE JENNIFER HUDSON TRANSFORM INTO ARETHA FRANKLIN IN FIRST TRAILER FOR 'RESPECT' BIOPIC

Watch REELZ on DIRECTV 238, Dish Network 299, Verizon FiOS 692, AT&T U-verse 1799 and in HD on cable systems and streaming services nationwide. Find REELZ on your local cable or satellite provider at www.reelz.com.

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