Meet Melissa Lee Gatlin, The First Wife Of Billy Bob Thornton

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Melissa Lee Gatlin is the ex-wife of actor, writer, and director, Billy Bob Thornton. Gatlin is the first wife of Thornton. Together, they also had a daughter.

While Thornton’s relationship with Gatlin lasted only for a couple of years, she often crosses people’s minds when it comes to the actor’s ex-wives, second to Angelina Jolie. Read what there is to know about Melissa including her early life, her relationship with Thornton, and her life now.

Melissa Lee Gatlin’s Origin; Her Life Before Meeting Billy Bob Thornton

Melissa is a mystery when it comes to having her own spotlight. Other than Thornton’s ex-wife, she has hardly had her own life, especially within the media and the glare of publicity. Despite once related to a household name, she remains a puzzle yearning to be unraveled.

Therefore, the very essence of her being – her birth year and familial roots – lingers in obscurity. The ambiguity also reverberates in subjects regarding Melissa’s education and the trajectory she forged in her career.

All in all, Melissa is a silent enigma, whose bio, for the time being, is nothing more than an untold story.

Melissa Lee Gatlin’s Relationship With Billy Bob Thornton

Melissa was the first wife of Billy Bob Thornton. The two married in 1978. During their marriage, Melissa and her former husband Thornton welcomed a daughter, Amanda Brumfield on June 30, 1979.

Billy Bob Thornton with his first wife, Melissa Lee Gatlin
Melissa Lee Gatlin and Billy Bob Thornton during their wedding. Splash

However, a year after their daughter’s birth, Billy and Melissa ended their marriage in 1980. At the time, their daughter Amanda was 18 months old.

Why did they divorce?

While Thornton never mentioned why he and Melissa ended their union, the latter, in an interview said it was due to the actor’s commitment issues and infidelity were the reason.

Melissa also said Thornton’s disregard towards kids was one of the reasons why his and Angelina Jolie’s relationship broke down. Whilst talking to the Daily Mail in November 2017, Gatlin claimed,

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did not want to be around children back then. Look at the timeline: she adopted Maddox and then, [Billy] was gone.

Jolie and Thornton separated in March 2002 as soon as the former adopted Maddox in March 2002. Jolie’s next partner, Brad Pitt, however, adopted Maddox when he and the actress started their courting in 2005.

Melissa likewise added Thornton’s habits of cheating were also the reason. She said that Billy must have cheated on his other wives as well. She also expressed her surprise at the possibility of Thornton cheating on Angelina Jolie.

Billy Bob Thornton with his ex-wife Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie with her ex-husband, Billy Bob Thornton. Getty

Following Gatlin and Thornton’s separation, Amanda grew up estranged from her father. Her mom Melissa raised her all by herself. During her interview with Barbara Walters, Gatlin said she had thought Thornton was amazing at the beginning but they weren’t friends anymore after their separation.

Meanwhile, Melissa’s ex-husband Thornton would go on to marry five women including his sixth wife Connie Angland. He also has a daughter Bella Thornton with Connie.

Melissa’s Daughter Is Serving 20 Years In Prison

Melissa and Thornton’s only daughter, Amanda got incarcerated in 2011 for aggravated manslaughter of a minor. She would serve 20 years in a Florida prison.

Brumfield was in the care of one-year-old Olivia when the little girl died from swelling and bleeding to the brain.

Amanda Brumfield with her husband Chris
Melissa Gatlin’s daughter Amanda with her husband Chris. Facebook

Despite the aforesaid ruckus, one of Amanda’s neighbors in Ocoee, Florida described Melissa’s daughter as “quiet and normal.”

Amanda, however, was set free in September 2020. She now has a husband and a daughter. She lives in Arkansas with her family.

Melissa Lee Gatlin’s Life After Her Divorce From Billy Bob Thornton; Is She Married Now?

Not much about Melissa is known after her separation from Thornton. In fact, the Sling Blade actor’s ex-wife wasn’t around much even when she was with Thornton.

According to certain reports, Melissa is speculated to be married, adopting the name deBin Parish. However, the identity of her current husband remains elusive. The enigma extends to the question of whether she has additional children beyond Amanda.

Similar uncertainty shrouds Melissa’s professional endeavors. While Thornton continues to be active in the acting realm, Melissa’s occupation remains a well-guarded secret.


Narayan Shankar, who goes by the name David, is a seasoned writer and editor, who has a passion for covering the entertainment industry. He has years of experience writing content, especially in the entertainment niche. He is currently an editor and writer for along with other websites under our organization named Pandora Group of Companies.