William Masters

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Also the birth name of musician Gordon Stretton.
William Masters
Born William Howell Masters
(1915-12-27)December 27, 1915
Cleveland, Ohio
Died February 16, 2001(2001-02-16) (aged 85)
Tucson, Arizona
Cause of death
Parkinson's disease
Education Lawrenceville School
Hamilton College
University of Rochester Medical School
Spouse(s) Elisabeth Ellis (div. 1971)
Virginia E. Johnson (1971–1992)
Geraldine B. Oliver (1993–2001)

William Howell Masters (December 27, 1915 – February 16, 2001) was an American gynecologist, best known as the senior member of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team. Along with Virginia E. Johnson, he pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunctions and disorders from 1957 until the 1990s.

Early life[edit]

Masters was born in Cleveland, Ohio, attended the Lawrenceville School and graduated from Hamilton College. Afterward, he enrolled at the University of Rochester Medical School, from which he received his medical degree. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, and became a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis.


Sexological research[edit]

Main article: Masters and Johnson

Relationship with Virginia Johnson[edit]

Masters met Virginia E. Johnson in 1957 when he hired her as a research assistant to undertake a comprehensive study of human sexuality. Masters divorced his first wife, Elizabeth Ellis Masters, to marry Johnson in 1971. They divorced two decades later, largely bringing their joint research and business partnership to an end.


William Masters suffered complications from Parkinson's disease and died in Tucson, Arizona on February 16, 2001.[1] Masters's second wife, Virginia Johnson, died in July 2013. Dr. Masters was survived by two children from his marriage to Elizabeth Ellis: Sarah Masters Paul, and William Howell Masters III.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The American cable network Showtime debuted Masters of Sex, a dramatic television series based on the 2009 biography of the same name, on September 29, 2013. The series stars Michael Sheen as Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson.


  1. ^ a b Severo, Richard (February 19, 2001). "William H. Masters, a Pioneer in Studying and Demystifying Sex, Dies at 85". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-24. "Dr. William H. Masters, who with his co-researcher, Virginia E. Johnson, revolutionized the way sex is studied, taught and enjoyed in America, died Friday at a hospice in Tucson. He was 85 and had lived in retirement since 1994, first in St. Louis and then in Tucson. He suffered complications from Parkinson's disease, said his wife, Geraldine Baker Oliver Masters."