Although often the subject of ridicule and the butts of tasteless jokes, people who marry time and time again cannot ever be faulted for giving up on love and happily ever after. With over half the US adults single – for the first time in recorded history – a substantial portion seems to have just thrown in the towel and embraced the single life, many with less passion than others.
Unlike your quirky relative or spunky neighbor with strings of former spouses, celebrity marriages get tons of press and when a famous person repeatedly marries with few or no pauses in between betrothals, tongues wag in awe, disapproval or envy. But as Elizabeth Taylor once said, “I’ve only slept with men I’ve been married to. How many women can make that claim?” Touché.
Bonnie Lee Bakley – 10 Marriages
This “celebrity” name might not ring a bell because her biggest claim to fame was being allegedly murdered by husband/actor Robert Blake, charges of which he was acquitted by a jury. However, Bakley did appear in two Hollywood movies, Turk 182! and Radio Days, although her performances were not credited. None of her former husbands was as famous as Blake and she had four children when she died in 2001 in Studio City, California at age 45. Also noteworthy is that she was divorced only once and five marriages in a row were annulled. Since her MO was bilking rich guys out their money by lying and scheming, the five annulments in seven years is believable.
Zsa Zsa Gabor – 9 Marriages
After winning the title of Miss Hungary in 1929, and failing to be old enough to compete for the Miss World title, Gabor embarked upon a journey that made her one of the country’s first personalities that was called a “celebrity” for fairly ambiguous reasons. She was an actress who played mostly forgettable supporting roles for many years but along the way kept herself in the spotlight so well that by the ’60s, she only appeared as herself in movies. A large part of Gabor’s notoriety was based on her multiple marriages including a 5 year union with world famous hotelier Conrad Hilton and 5 years wed to iconic actor George Sanders, who was also once married to her sister Magda Gabor.
Jennifer O’Neill – 9 Marriages
O’Neill, 65, is most famous for her portrayal of Dorothy Walker in the 1971 film Summer of ’42, the young wife of a soldier who had to leave her behind to go fight in World War II and who, when faced with loss, finds comfort in the arms of a 15-year-old boy. Although she continued to act in films and television, no part ever garnered the attention of that role but O’Neill filled her spare time with marriage and divorce. She has been married nine times to eight husbands (she married, divorced and remarried her sixth husband). O’Neill has the rather unique distinction of being married to four different men in four years and has three children, all with different fathers. To be fair, it should be noted she’s been married to her current husband for 18 years.
Elizabeth Taylor – 8 Marriages
Despite her eight marriages – twice to Richard Burton – Taylor’s fans were among the most understanding and forgiving. She was a fresh-faced innocent when she married Conrad (Nicky) Hilton, Jr. when she was 18 and he was 24, a union that lasted barely more than 6 months. A year later she married actor Michael Wilding, whom she split with 5 years later to marry celebrated theater/film producer Mike Todd. Todd perished in a crash of his private plane the following year. The next year Taylor wed singer Eddie Fisher, which began yet another 5-year relationship that voraciously fed tabloid headlines. Next up was celebrated actor of stage and screen Richard Burton, married to Taylor from 1964 to 1974, divorced, and married again from 1975 to 1976. Taylor married politician John Warner in 1976 and divorced him in 1982. After a 9 year hiatus, Taylor married her final husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky. They split in 1996.
Mickey Rooney – 8 Marriages
Rooney began his acting career at 7 years old and went on to make 43 movies between ages 15 and 25, often sharing the screen with idols such as Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. His first marriage at age 22 was to alluring actress Ava Gardner. Wedded bliss was short; they divorced a year later. The next year, in 1944, he married former Miss Alabama and singer B.J. Baker, with whom he had two children. After their marriage broke up in 1948, Rooney married two actresses back-to-back, Martha Vickers for 2 years, followed by Elaine Devry for 6 years. His next marriage to Carolyn Mitchell ended in her death 8 years later. Marge Lane was Mrs. Rooney from 1966 to 1967, Carolyn Hockett held the position from 1969 to 1975, and when Rooney died this year at age 93, he’d been married to singer Jan Chamberlain for 36 years. Apparently, persistence paid off.
Lana Turner – 8 Marriages
Dubbed the “Sweater Girl” for her form fitting clothes that highlighted her voluptuous figure, Turner was one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses of the ’40s and ’50s. She was married 8 times, twice to actor Joseph Stephen Crane, with whom she had a daughter, Cheryl, who at age 14 stabbed to death her mother’s mobster boyfriend Johnny Stompanato to defend Turner during a violent fight at their home. Turner was briefly married to musician Artie Shaw before Crane and her next five husbands included Tarzan portrayer Lex Barker as well as infamous shyster Ronald Dante aka Ronald Pellar, Turner’s last husband. In her memoirs, Turner revealed Dante stole around $100,000 worth of jewelry from her and bilked her out of about $35K cash.
Larry King – 8 Marriages
Larry King is one of the most recognizable news figures of this century and is almost as famous for his string of marriages as he is for his unorthodox interviewing techniques. He married his high school sweetheart at age 18 but her parents had the union annulled the next year. Almost 10 years later, he married Annette Kaye and had a son with her. That marriage didn’t last even a year and King quickly wed Playboy Bunny Alene Akins. They divorced two years later and King married Mickey Stuphin. She divorced him in 1967 and he married Akins again and had another child. Five years later, he was back in divorce court. After four years being single, King married Sharon Lepore, a production assistant and math teacher. They split seven years later and after a six year break, he married business woman Julie Alexander. They divorced three years later. In 1997, 38-year-old singer/actress Shawn Southwick became King’s seventh wife. They had two kids together but both filed for divorce in 2010. That dissolution is pending among sightings of the two together and rumors of reconciliation.
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