O.J. Simpson’s father revealed to be a prominent gay drag queen called Mama Simpson

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Apr 12, 2024 at 01:05 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

In light of former American football star, broadcaster, and actor O.J. Simpson passing away at the age of 76 after battling prostate cancer, reports have come to light regarding his father, Jimmy Lee Simpson. More specifically, accounts are being shared that look into Simpson’s father’s sexuality and involvement in the San Francisco drag scene.

One particular article from Bustle in 2016 mentions a book The Lies of O.J. Simpson written by George Carpozi Jr. Supposedly, within this book, there are anonymous accounts suggesting that Jimmy was gay and involved in San Francisco’s drag community.  Moreover, testimonies from individuals close to the family also support these claims. Despite limited information available about Jimmy’s life, these accounts suggest that he passed away from an AIDS-related illness in 1986.


Here are all the gay rumours around OJSimpson’s dad. Jimmy Lee Simpson was born in Arkansas in 1920, before moving to San Francisco with the mother of his four children Eunice Durden. According to his wife’s New York Times obituary, Jimmy Lee abandoned his family when O.J. was four years old. In 1995, the year OJ was infamously acquitted for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, journalist George Carpozi Jr. published a book which claimed that after Jimmy Lee left his wife he came out as gay. Not only that, he became a famous local drag queen in the San Francisco Bay Area. An anonymous source is quoted in the book, titled The Lies of OJ Simpson, claiming that: “Mama Simpson, as he was known to me, used to hang around the hotel where I lived and was frequently dressed in drag. Everyone knew he was O.J.'s dad. He got to be known as Mama Simpson because he favored young, butch white kids as boyfriends.” A year later author Jeffrey Toobin published his biography of OJ, The Run of His Life, which provided much of the source material for Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story. In it, he also claimed that Jimmy Lee was gay, and that despite multiple outlets listing his cause of death in 1986 as cancer, he actually died from complications of AIDS. The author wrote: “His father was an intermittent presence in his life; in later life, he came out as a homosexual, and he died of AIDS in 1985.” Then in 2016, an Oscar-winning five part documentary was released featuring interviews with some of OJ’s closest childhood friends. One of those interviewed was Calvin Tennyson who recalled visiting Jimmy Lee Simpson at his home with O.J. He said: “One day we went over to his dad's house, and we knocked on the door. When his dad opened the door, he was in a bathrobe, which is not a crime. But then his dad kind of opened the door more, and there was a guy in the back in a bathrobe too. So it was obvious that his dad was gay.' Another friend Joe Bell said when Calvin told him about Jimmy Lee’s sexuality, he didn’t want to believe him. “I was like, "Man, shut up. I don't want to hear that.", he said, adding “'Back in our day that was the worst thing in the world that you could ever think about. An African-American man being a homosexual.' Jimmy Lee Simpson never confirmed or denied his sexuality to the public. #ojsimpsoncase #gay #usnews #nicolebrownsimpson #lgbtq

♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box - takaya

In an article from Medium, some speculated that Simpson’s father, who came out as gay and was largely absent from the family once the football player turned four years old, often performed as a local drag queen known as “Mama Simpson.”

Simpson’s relationship with his father appeared strained, with the media star expressing resentment towards his absence during his teenage years. It’s possible that this friction was exacerbated by Jimmy’s sexuality. Simpson’s rise to football stardom also seemed to coincide with his desire to shape a different narrative about his upbringing.

During an interview with Business Insider, Ezra Edelman, the director behind the ESPN documentary series O.J.: Made in America, delved into Simpson’s life, revealing the distressing abuse inflicted upon his ex-wife during their marriage and examining the potential impact of his father’s sexuality on their family dynamics. Indeed, in a 1977 interview with Parents magazine, as cited by The New York Times, Simpson expressed resentment towards his father’s absence during his teenage years, emphasising the need for paternal guidance during a crucial period of self-discovery.

Calvin Tennyson, Simpson’s childhood friend, shared an anecdote in the documentary, recalling a visit to Simpson’s father’s house where they encountered him in a bathrobe upon answering the door: “We went over to his dad’s house one day, and when his dad answered the door, he was wearing a bathrobe, which is perfectly normal. But then as his dad opened the door wider, there was another man in the background also wearing a bathrobe. It became clear that his dad was gay.”

One of the unnamed sources in Carpozi’s The Lies of O.J. Simpson stated: “Mama Simpson, as he was known to me, used to hang around the hotel where I lived and was frequently dressed in drag. Everyone knew he was O.J.’s dad.”

Another book, The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin, also supported the claims that Jimmy was gay and an active participant in the drag community.

Speculation persists about the strained relationship between Simpson and his father. Despite the controversial star’s acclaimed football career and public persona, he notably refrained from discussing his relationship with Jimmy, leaving much of their dynamic shrouded in mystery and open to interpretation.

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