Going the distance
Celebrity couples who stay together till death do they part are not as rare as imagined.
IT WAs a black day for celebrity couple longevity when news came that the perfect Hollywood couple Courteney Cox and David Arquette had split after 11 years of marriage.
Fans and celebrities alike were surprised as they had believed that the two were one of those celebrity couples who would last. The seven-year age difference between the two – Cox was 35 and Arquette, 28, when they married in 1999 – was never seen as an obstacle to their relationship.
Another golden couple, susan sarandon and Tim Robbins, split last year after 22 years of being together. sarandon is 12 years older than Robbins and many had initially speculated that their relationship would be a short- lived one when the two hooked up after meeting on the set of Bull Durham in 1987.
However, the couple exceeded all expectations and, despite never being married, the two were widely regarded as a strong couple until their breakup last year.
These two splits in particular have added to the bad reputation among celebrities for the lack of longevity in their relationships.
The high frequency of entertainer couples’
Actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have been married for more than 20 years and show no signs of their relationship being in jeopardy. separations give credence to the public perception that their breakups top the national average and the high-profile nature of the separations further fuel the perception.
Actress Elizabeth Taylor, for instance, is as well known for her beauty and acting ability as for her eight failed marriages, twice to the same man, fellow star the late Richard Burton. Now 78, her marrying days appear to be over, but she does have a constant companion.
Many celebrities seem to get in and out of relationships as often as they change clothes. Just turn the pages of entertainment tabloids and magazines or watch a television entertainment programme and one will find a roundup of the breakups and divorces that have happened over the week.
The more understanding among us will acknowledge that the temptations they face while on the job, the difficulty of arranging work schedules so they can spend time together, and the paparazzi, all make it hard for celebrities to maintain their relationships with each other.
Brad Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston when he co-starred with Angelina Jolie in Mr And Mrs Smith, during which he admitted to falling in love with Jolie. He and Aniston divorced soon after, and Pitt has been with Jolie since then.
Rumours are constantly rife that the marriage of Hong Kong celebrity couple Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Carina Lau is on the rocks, mainly fuelled by the long separations the couple undergo whenever Leung has a project. With Lau now acting again, the situation – and rumours – may get worse.
Faced with such negative reinforcements, it is easy to believe that the entertainment world is a place where no relationship lasts, but that would be overstating the issue. Today’s article is a tribute to celebrity couples who have lasted, till death do they part.
The late Paul Newman was married for 50 years to actress Joanne Woodward when he died in 2008 at age 83. The two were said to be devoted to each other.
Newman, when asked about men straying, had been quoted as saying: “Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?”
While the reference to women as meat may rile some, it was a measure of Newman’s commitment to Woodward that not a whiff of scandal attached to the couple for the duration of their marriage.
Actor Danny DeVito and actress Rhea Perlman have been married for 28 years. The two are business partners as well as lovers, running a successful production company together. They have also acted together occasionally when an appropriate movie comes along.
It’s a love match all the more remarkable because it was the first marriage for both.
Another inspirational Hollywood couple is Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who have been married for 22 years. Hanks in 1994 paid tribute to his wife for being the woman who made his success possible and for showing him “just what love is” during his acceptance speech for best actor in the Academy Awards.
The acknowledged gentleman of Hollywood is one of a few in the industry whose work is more prominently covered than his personal life, usually a sign of the lack of scandal in it.
Actress Tracy Pollan has been through thick and thin with her husband, Back To The Future star Michael J. Fox. The two married in 1988 and just two years later, Fox began showing symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.
Fox stopped acting regularly from 2000 as the disease was taking a toll on his health, but more importantly, because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He thinks of himself as a “Lucky Man”, the title of one of his books on his life’s experiences, one whose marriage is still strong and whose rare guest appearances on TV shows still attract great audience interest.
In Asia, Hong Kong actor Michael Miu and actress Jamie Chik look set to go the distance as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their marriage earlier this year.
The loving couple is always on the same page. Both left the entertainment industry together in the mid-1990s to get into business, and rejoined the industry together in the mid-2000s.
It is no easy feat for celebrity couples to stay together, but quite a few do manage to do so despite the odds.
Entertainment magazines and shows could perhaps feature a new column or segment on celebrity couples who are going the distance in their relationships to help dispel the notion that short-lived relationships are the norm among celebrities. n In this column, writer Hau Boon Lai ponders the lives, loves and liberties of celebrities.