Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love Affairs, Part II, for Continued Senior Edification

My movie couples were such a success that I figured I would satisfy everyone's prurient interests on Valentine's Day itself with a dozen of the more famous couplings. And movie links below are to Amazon Instant Streaming video so you can watch at once.

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (Larry and Viv)  Although Olivier and Leigh (Scarlet O'Hara and Blanche Dubois) were two of the most beautiful people in the movies, after twenty years of coping with her bipolar disorder, Olivier wanted out. They divorced in 1960, he remarried Joan Plowright, shown with short curly hair, with him, a year later and remained married to her until his death. Leigh died of her recurrent tuberculosis 7 years after their divorce, unmarried.

Jimmy Cagney reserved all his drama for the screen. He married once in 1922 to Frances "Billie" Vernon and stayed married until his death at age 86. They lived on a farm in upstate New York and raised Morgan horses together. The top picture is of the two of them.  The bottom picture is one of his films where is playing a tough guy hitting a woman. Always knowing the difference between real life and the acting life, as soon as a production wrapped, he was out the door and on his way home, back to his real life with Billie.

Robert Evans and Ali McGraw were a golden couple. He was a hugely successful movie producer (Godfather movies) and she was a major star. While he was producing another movie, she went on location to make a movie, The Getaway, with Steve McQueen and fell in love with him. She and Evans divorced and she married McQueen. She lasted five years with the abusive McQueen, found him impossible as a spouse and divorced him. McQueen had been raised in a brothel and led a very hardscrabble existence prior to his making it in acting.  This made his marriages and affairs always cursed from the outset. Although she has had relationships, she has remained single ever since and now lives in Sante Fe.

Jimmy Stewart was a graduate of Princeton and had won a graduate scholarship for additional work in aviation and architecture when he was bitten by the acting bug and went in that direction instead. He married Gloria Hatrick McLean, his one and only wife, in 1949, and remained married to her until her death in 1994. Surrounded by his children on July 2, 1997, Stewart died at the age of 89 at his home in with his final words to his family being "I'm going to be with Gloria now!" His hobbies were gardening and model airplane building.

Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand played a couple falling in love in the film Let's Make Love. Monroe had an affair with him during it, while she was still married to Arthur Miller. Her marriage to Miller was on its last legs and she was very interested in Montand. However, his wife, Simone Signoret, managed to hold onto him and they remained married until Signoret's death in 1985.  Signoret is seated above with Monroe and Montand at a nightclub while the film was shooting. This was 1960 and Monroe's mental problems were a heavy drain on every aspect of her life at this point. Monroe died two years later.

Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal   They were cast in The Fountainhead together and began a passionate affair. His wife and daughter found out and demanded they break up. Neal was pregnant by then and Cooper insisted she get an abortion.  She did, regretted it and the whole affair blew apart.  He went back to his wife but continued to be unfaithful with other women while Neal went on to marry author Roald Dahl and have five children with him. Dahl and she experienced several tragic events together with these children and her health. Eventually he left her for someone else.

Although he was quite madcap onscreen, offscreen Jack Lemmon was considered the most gentlemanly man in Hollywood.  Small wonder. Born in Newton, Mass., he graduated from Harvard while being president of several drama clubs, the Hasty Pudding Club, a gentleman's club and so forth. Married in 1962 to Felica Farr, left, he remained happily married to her until his death in 2001. It was hard to get him to say a bad word about anyone and he supported other actors at every turn, including Kevin Spacey from his start. He knew he was meant to be an actor at age 8. Played at least six musical instruments as his main hobby. Now you know why you never saw him in the National Enquirer! He and Walter Matthau are buried close together.

Lee Majors was a big tv star. He was playing the Six Million Dollar Man while married to Farrah Fawcett. He incredibly told his then best friend Ryan O'Neal to take care of Fawcett while he was away shooting his series. By the time he got back, Fawcett was ready to leave him for O'Neal. Although Fawcett and O'Neal never married, they were a long term couple, with a son, until her death a few years ago. They had at least one fiery breakup due to his cheating on her. The two of them also had terrible problems with their son which led to the son's imprisonment. The son last saw his mother before her death while he was in chains. The prison officials brought him to her house while she was on her deathbed. O'Neal also had vicious battles with his other children which were tabloid fodder for years. At Fawcett's funeral, O'Neal infamously tried to pick up a pretty blonde woman only to find out it was his own estranged daughter, Tatum. One of O'Neal's sons was in a speedboating collision with Francis Coppolla's son which left O'Neal's son alive but Coppolla's son dead. Fawcett's friends and family tried to get her to break up with O'Neal for years but she would never listen to them.

Roberto Rossellini was an Italian film director who directed Ingrid Bergman in Strombolini in Italy. Although married to other people, they had an affair and Bergman became pregnant with twins. Although they did marry, Bergman's American fan base turned against her and she stayed in Europe for six years because of the scandal. She returned to the United States in 1956 and divorced Rossellini in 1957. She was triumphant in her return, winning the Oscar for Anastasia about the lost Romanov daughter of the Czar. She was married and divorced three times and finished out the last seven years of her life unmarried, dying at age 67.

Humphrey Bogart was married three times prior to marrying the love of his life, Lauren Bacall. His third marriage was so bad that he and his then wife were called the Battling Bogarts by the Hollywood Press. He met Bacall while that marriage was in its final battle stages. He and Bacall married, had two children and remained married until his death in 1957 at age 57. Contrary to their public image, Bogart was the one who had come from the high society family. His father was a Park Avenue doctor, his mother a well known artist. He attended the Ivy League prep schools but went onto acting instead of college. Bacall was from a working class Jewish family in New York, brought up by her mother and her mother's relatives when her father walked out on them. Bacall would marry again and have boyfriends but it would never last. She still identifies Bogart as the big love of her life.

You want a Hollywood love story?  This one isn't well known but is one of the biggest love stories in Hollywood. Mel Brooks, as the story goes, saw Anne Bancroft performing on the stage, fell madly in love with her at first sight and they were married not long thereafter. They were very protective of their personal life and had no scandals so personally flew beneath gossip radar. They were even more protective of their son, Max. Anne was dying of cancer in one New York hospital with Mel at her side while Max was in another New York hospital sitting by his just born son who was just hanging onto life. Max wrote World War Z, the zombie book, by his son's bedside and that is why all your grandchildren know who Max Brooks is but may say "Duh" when asked about Mel and Anne.

Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have two love stories which are in complete contradiction. The first is that they were madly in love but because of Tracy's being Catholic and having a disabled son, he would not divorce. The second, which began surfacing after her death from multiple sources, was that both of them needed to come up with that as a cover story so their careers didn't suffer. This was because Hepburn was a lesbian and Tracy was bisexual, which had such knowledge become public may well have ended their careers.

Their movies together were all love stories and they were outstanding as screen lovers. Frankly, I have never had a problem believing that if someone was a superb actor, that as an actor he or she could play people of any sexual persuasion. They just have to study those people and then play them, just like they do for any other part. We are now seeing this more and more take place as gay actors play straights and straight actors play gays. If you want to read more about this second version of their relationship go here.

Paul McCartney doesn't just write love songs, he lives them. He was happily married to Linda Eastman for over three decades and was devastated when she died in 1998. In his grief, he was easy prey for gold digger Heather Mills. McCartney does not believe in pre-nups so he married Mills without one, which is why she was ultimately able to fleece him for roughly $50 million dollars when she was ready to cash in during her divorce court phase. McCartney next married Nancy Shevall, again no pre-nup, His daughter Stella, the famed designer, stung by the Mills fiasco, was so exasperated with him when he announced his upcoming third marriage to her that she said, "Do you have to marry every woman you go out with?" Happily though, unlike Heather, Nancy has mixed well with the McCartney family.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
written to Robert Browning

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