It’s funny how many of us don’t even think of romance, as our minds are pre-occupied with things like careers, schooling and our futures. Until of course, it just grabs you. Even when we’re married or in a committed relationship we take certain things for granted. The lives of Hollywood actors and actresses can sometimes become a window into our own lives as well. Though we may not all have the same troubles, fears or problems that these people have, each and every one of us can find just a little bit of ourselves in each story in this article.
These stories are unexpected, in that they are not necessarily everyday occurrences. Other stories are familiar but presented in a manner that explore the triumphs or failures of the lover or spouse. Either way, if you really can’t find something here that grabs you or tugs at you, then you really haven’t lived life at all.
15. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
If there ever was a story of two people who always wanted to be with each other, but never could, this is it. One had a debilitating case of anger that was only elevated by his iconic status in New York City, and the other a level of depression that no one could see behind a smile that captivated millions. They met while on a double date in 1952. Joe, at the age of 35, had ended his career, while Marilyn was at the beginning of hers. The baseball superstar always had such a crush on the actress that he remained stoically silent throughout the dinner, perhaps a case of shyness from his otherwise grand ego. Marilyn was intrigued and curious because she had never been ignored before. The couple spent their first night together and got married in January 1954.
Joe was possessive, wanting to transform Marylin into more of a housewife, something she was definitely not. He had ground rules, such as having to approve all of her movies, insisting that she stop playing the half-dressed dumb blonde. His wife agreed because in him, she found the only man she could trust. This bond was not strong enough though, as their marriage ended nine months later as Marilyn could take no more mental and physical abuse. The starlet dated and married several other powerful and usually married men, but always wanted to be with Joe. The couple always saw each other on the side during her relationships. The lovestruck Joe on the other hand, found it difficult to date others as everyone reminded him of her. The star athlete took anger management courses hoping that the two would get back together permanently, and Marilyn was hoping for the same thing.
In February 1961, Marilyn was institutionalized as a paranoid schizophrenic, a disease probably inherited from her mother. No other man she ever married, dated or was dating at the time, came to her side when this happened. Only Joe cared as he forcibly took her out of the institution into Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, where she introduced him as “my hero.” She continued her downward spiral until she died one year later at the age of 36. Days before she died, Monroe told a friend, “If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago.” DiMaggio believed her death to be a suicide, others did not. As her only family member, Joe buried her, took care of the funeral arrangements and delivered roses to her grave every week for 36 years until his death in 1999, as per the actresses’ wishes. He never remarried, and on his deathbed, his last words were: “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn again.”
14. Buddy Holly and María Elena Holly
Buddy Holly was a musical icon in the late 1950s. His wife María Elena Santiago, was a 22 year old receptionist for music executive Murray Deutch when the two finally met. According to Maria: “I didn’t even know who he was, even though I was sending the records to the radio station to play Buddy Holly. But I had never seen him. It was a mutual admiration society right away. I just fell, like boom,” she said with a laugh, adding that “he fell the same way.” Company policy wouldn’t allow them to date, but Buddy Holly changed that by asking her out that same evening. It was Maria’s first ever date. During their first date, Buddy asked her to marry him. Maria’s initial thought was: ”I had gotten the idea from my aunt that most musicians were not all there, crazy, and I thought, ‘Uh-oh my aunt was right. This guy’s not well, he just met me and here we go; now he’s asking me to marry me.'” In the end she did marry him soon after their first date.
Maria always accompanied the singer on tour, acting as somewhat of a tour manager while taking care of all of the little details. Buddy insisted Maria not go on The Winter Dance Tour in 1959, because she was pregnant. The tour ended up being one delay after another as the tour bus kept breaking down. One day Buddy got fed up and decided to rent a plane instead. On February 3rd, 1959, forever known as “The Day the Music Died”, his plane crashed, killing all of the passengers.
His wife blamed herself for everyone’s death as she noted that if she had been there, no one would have rented a plane. She was a widow in denial never making it to his funeral, and never once visiting his grave to this day, stating that: “I refused to believe he was buried. I remembered him just as he was when he left our apartment in Greenwich Village”. To add insult to injury, Maria had a miscarriage and lost their only child. They had been married all of 6 months.
13. Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski
Sharon Tate was a 26 year old actress who became infamous on August 9, 1969, as the victim of a mass murder at the hands of the Manson Family. This crime was a significant milestone in the 60s because it virtually ended hippie culture and all it stood for. It was Charles Manson, a hippie leader himself that convinced his followers to commit this mass execution along with a few others. According to the star witness at the trial, Tate pleaded in vain for the life of her unborn child. The psychopaths never listened as they stabbed her and her child 16 times. They also killed the four other people in her house at the time. Her killers wrote the word “pig” in her blood on the wall of her house.
Roman Polanski, the famed director who was married to Tate at the time, has said that he has yet to recover from the loss of his wife. This was not a case of love at first sight as the couple’s first few dates were a disaster. However, time eventually brought them together and “Even after so many years, I find myself unable to watch a spectacular sunset or visit a lovely old house or experience visual pleasure of any kind without instinctively telling myself how much she would have loved it all,” wrote Polanski in a book marking the 45th anniversary of her death. “In these ways I shall remain faithful to her till the day I die.”
12. Carole Lombard and Clark Gable
Clarke Gable’s most famous role was as Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, even today some 80 years later the film stands as one of the top 10 highest earning films of all time. The film also allowed Clarke to do another thing, marry his mistress, actress Carole Lombard. To do this he had to pay off his ex-wife during the divorce. MGM gave him a loan specifically for this issue in exchange for his starring role in the epic movie, a role he initially wasn’t going for.
In 1942 Carole Lombard was asked to sell war bonds. As she travelled from town to town by train, she managed to sell $2 million. At the time plane travel was not considered safe. Warning beacons and other such items were frequently turned on or off in fear of a Japanese Attack. But while in Las Vegas, she decided to board a plane with her mother to quickly get home to California, and her plane subsequently smashed into a cliff killing all of the passengers. Hysterical with grief, her husband began drinking heavily and struggled to complete his acting jobs. He remarried twice since her death, always living in the same house he shared with Carole. He claimed her spirit would still be there if he stayed. Out of all four of his wives, it was Carole who Gable wanted to be buried next to.
11. Pierce Brosnan and Cassandra Harris
Sometimes when James Bond gets the girl, he actually does fall in love and then he marries her. This was the case for former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, and former Bond Girl Cassandra Harris, in 1980. Cassandra had two children of her own prior to the marriage. The couple eventually had one more child of their own. Marriage is an institution often trivialized and mocked in Hollywood as divorces occur for the dumbest reasons. This is a tale of hope and admiration for those who still believe in ‘til death do us part.
Cassandra was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at a young age. For many years she struggled as Brosnan never left her side, and never looked at another woman through eight painful operations, extensive chemotherapy and a variety of holistic therapies. Nothing in science or from above worked, as his wife passed away in 1991 at the age of 43. Brosnan said that even after her death, he would sit in the garden she loved and talk to her. If this wasn’t enough, a few years ago Cassandra’s own daughter Charlotte, passed away from the same disease. He was also by his adopted daughter’s side holding her hand when she passed away.
10. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Not a story of fidelity or monogamy, as the two combined got married over a dozen times and not necessarily to each other. When Richard Burton first met Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra in 1962, he was unimpressed telling Hollywood’s most popular leading lady that: ”You’re much too fat, luv. But you do have a pretty little face”.
Elizabeth didn’t take that too well, but she started to feel something one day when the actor came in drunk on the set with his hands trembling, unable to sip his coffee. As Taylor held his coffee for him, sparks suddenly appeared. Both were married at the time; Elizabeth was married for the sake of being married, and Richard had affair after affair with his wife, but from that moment the two were inseparable, sneaking around backstage and prolonging kissing scenes in the film long after the director said cut. Of course, they had to keep this from the media and their spouses, something that’s hard to do when you act like two little indiscreet teenagers.
Eventually they got married, appearing almost inseparable as the couple acted in film after film together. Richard though, was a drunk, and Elizabeth had a temper. The resulting fights were epic, perfect for tabloid fodder. By the 70s, Elizabeth became a drunk who was also addicted to painkillers, making it even more difficult on the couple. In 1973 they made their last film together, Divorce His, Divorce Hers. Appropriately as if this movie foretold their future, they separated after its release but never stopped seeing each other as they got re-married in 1975. They got divorced again as Richard eventually found peace by divorcing Taylor and marrying Suzy Hunt, a woman 23 years younger than him. Of course they got divorced as well.
In 1983 the couple tried to rekindle their romance once again, starring in a play together. Taylor was so drunk she hardly ever showed up for work. Richard, infuriated, married someone else instead. One year later he died at 58. The death was tragic for Elizabeth as she said that: ”had Richard lived, she was sure they would have married again.” What’s even more heartbreaking is that just prior to her own death the actress also stated that Richard was one of her two favorite husbands. Apparently after being married eight times, it’s hard to pick just one.
9. Petra Nemcova and Simon Atlee
Petra had just made a splash in the modeling world as a teenager when she appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated SwimSuit edition. She then found stability and became engaged to British photographer, Simon Atlee. On Boxing Day 2004, the couple was in the wrong place at the wrong time when they were vacationing in Thailand, when the biggest Tsunami in recent times devastated the coastline taking 230,000 lives, one of whom was Simon Atlee.
Petra was in their bungalow while Simon was on the roof when the waves took them both into the water. They were separated immediately. Petra managed to grab onto a tree and clung to it for eight hours. She described her ordeal in a 2011 interview, stating that: ”I was in total agony and blacking out every now and again. But I tried to remain focused. The most heartbreaking sounds were cries of children all around me. I couldn’t get to any of them and then the cries would stop. I could only move with my arms because my pelvis was broken and when the water subsided I was screaming in pain; when the water came back it relieved the pain. Then I saw a crab in the water, I pulled it out and kept in on the tree; I kept it from moving off the tree, I watched it, I guarded it, I spoke to it. I wanted to be able to feel like I was protecting something else. It sounds strange but it kept me calm.” When she was rescued she was told that she may never walk again, and after a couple of days rescuers found her fiance’s corpse. Today she works on her Happy Hearts Fund which she created to help victims of disasters around the world.
8. Christopher and Dana Reeve
The traditional wedding vow; “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part”, is truly something people say at that moment but don’t always mean. After all it’s a hard vow to keep as it takes a lot of sacrifice and a love so strong that it transcends one’s physical and financial needs. In the end, one couple Christopher and Dana Reeve, found that their sacrifice was worth the trouble. On June 30th, 1987, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Christopher had front row seats at a performance when he first laid eyes on a particular singer. That night he asked her out and she agreed. In 1992 Christopher and Dana got married.
During an equestrian event in 1995, Reeve, an excellent horse rider, was sent flying from his horse, and he landed head first, making him a quadriplegic. It is daunting for any person to receive the news that although you are still breathing, you can never function normally again. At one point during his rehabilitation, Christopher whispered to Dana, “Maybe we should let me go.” To this, she tearfully replied, “I am only going to say this once: I will support whatever you want to do, because this is your life, and your decision. But I want you to know that I’ll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You’re still you. And I love you.” True to her word she was with him until his death in 2004. A couple of years later Dana herself passed away from lung cancer.
7. John Travolta and Diana Hyland
The man, who in his early twenties, was known for portraying self-centered, image conscious and immature high school students in Welcome Back Kotter and Grease, was much more than that in real-life. In 1976 he met Diana Hyland; the TV Mom in Eight Is Enough. At 40 years old, she was 16 years his senior when they first started dating. The tabloids had a field day with this one but when Diana Hyland was diagnosed with breast cancer three months into their relationship, John stepped up, ignored the Hollywood Gossip, and stood by her until her death. He moved into her home, paid the bills and took care of her son. In 1977, as Travolta was filming Saturday Night Fever, he received that dreadful call that Diana only had a few days left. Filming stopped as Travolta flew to her side where she died in his arms. It took the actor 15 more years before he could get back into a serious relationship.
6. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow
It is difficult to deal with the death of your partner, but how does one get over divorcing your husband because he is in love with your own daughter? How much more can it hurt when their relationship lasts longer than the one you had with the man? Woody Allen broke every taboo and entered a grey area of morality when he dumped his wife to marry his own adopted daughter, Soon Yi Previn.
Soon Yi was not Allen’s daughter by birth, but he raised her nonetheless from the age of eight, as Mia was known for adopting foreign children. Mia learnt of Woody’s indecent affair with her daughter when she entered Allen’s apartment and found p*rnographic photos of Soon Yi on the fireplace mantel. Woody would describe Mia finding the photos as: “One of the great pieces of luck in my life”. Woody has been married to his daughter for nineteen years now.
5. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis Presley introduced Micheal Jackson to his daughter in 1975 at a concert where Michael’s family was performing. Michael was a 17 year old singing sensation in the Jackson 5, while Lisa was 6. Little did the world know that the two kept in touch since that day. One grew up as the daughter of the king of Rock’N’Roll, and the other was the King of Pop. Both had messed up childhoods, while neither could handle the fame and attention that they earned.
Was it any wonder that in 1994, the two actually got married? Even the two of them probably couldn’t believe it as it took them two months to declare it to the world. Or perhaps the two always grew up with such shame in their lives, they never knew how to live any other way. They soon got divorced with Lisa’s mom Priscilla, claiming that it was a marriage of convenience, while her daughter backed her up with stories of being manipulated into marriage.
It wasn’t until Jackson’s death when Lisa Marie finally admitted that the love was real, releasing this statement: “It was an unusual relationship yes, where two unusual people who did not live or know a “normal life” found a connection… Nonetheless, I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone and I loved him very much. As I sit here overwhelmed with sadness, reflection and confusion at what was my biggest failure to date, watching on the news almost play by play. The exact scenario I saw happen on August 16th, 1977 happening again right now with Michael (A sight I never wanted to see again) just as he predicted, I am truly, truly gutted. Any ill experience or words I have felt towards him in the past has just died inside of me along with him.” Sometimes you just have to say those things when the person is still alive instead of hurting each other. You never know when tragedy will strike.
4. Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack
It’s been nine years since Clueless actress Brittany Murphy, secretly married British Director Simon Monjack. In 2009 Brittany died in her home at the age of 32. The official L.A. County Coroner’s report cited pneumonia, anemia and a trace mix of prescription drugs as causing an “accidental death” from “natural causes.” Six months later her husband died at the age of 40 from the exact same thing. Conspiracy theories are numerous, even to this day as the couple’s death became the biggest media fodder since the OJ Trial. To add fuel to the conspiracy theory, an independent lab report, commissioned in 2013 by Brittany’s father, found alarming levels of “heavy metals” in her system suggesting the possibility of “a third party perpetrator.” One of the tests showed hair samples with “abnormally high levels” of 10 potentially toxic heavy metals, among them barium, which is used in rat poison. The mystery lives on.
3. Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
The marriage defied tradition and both of them may have paid for it the end. They were going to be the Ono and Lennon of the 90s, but the couple had a much different beginning and a much different ending. Courtney was strong and always got what she wanted, while never giving a damn about what others thought. She met Cobain in the mid eighties in Portland. “Back then,” Courtney said in a Vanity Fair interview, “we didn’t have an emotion towards each other. It was, like, ‘Are you coming over to my house?’ ‘Are you going to get it up?”. That all changed when they met again. This time Nirvana was a household name. How did she get Kurt? According to a friend “she asked. And she wouldn’t take no for an answer.” Hence the rumors started about her secret agenda and her manipulative ways.
Courtney was a known drug addict who tried to kick the habit but couldn’t, Cobain didn’t even like to drink much. He was the exact opposite of what a rockstar was. He eventually got hooked on heroin and other drugs. Weeks before he died a domestic dispute escalated into something scary. Courtney summoned the authorities. Kurt had locked himself in a room with a 38-caliber revolver and said he was going to kill himself. The officers confiscated that gun and three others, along with a bottle of various unidentified pills.
All the warning signs were there and everyone tried to help the man, but one month later he was found dead with a shotgun lying on his chest. His body had been lying there for two and a half days. The examiners report found high concentrations of heroin and valium. He was identifiable only by his fingerprints. His wife released the following statement after his death: “I’m lying in our bed, and I’m really sorry. And I feel the same way you do. I’m really sorry, you guys. I don’t know what I could have done. I wish I’d been here. I wish I hadn’t listened to other people, but I did… And I have to go now. Just tell him he’s a f—er, OK? Just say, ‘F—er. You’re a f—er.’ And that you love him.”
2. Dorothy Dandridge and Jack Denison
Others are stories of hope, strength and mutual admiration, while this is a story of why one shouldn’t get married for the wrong reasons. Dorothy was Hollywood’s first black sex symbol in an era of racial segregation. She was the first African American actress to get nominated for an Academy Award as best actress. In the 1950s, like many Hollywood Starlets, she came under scrutiny for the men she dated. Her scrutiny however, was race-related as her lovers were usually Caucasians angering both her own African American Community and Hollywood. She then married her second husband Jack Denison (a nightclub owner), in 1959, more then likely to stop the anger directed at her. Her husband was abusive and mismanaged all of her money, as she ended up bankrupt. Jack actually had the gall to divorce her in 1963. Two years later, no longer able to get any more acting roles, Dandridge was found dead from a drug overdose without a penny to her name.