Go­ing the dis­tance

Celebrity cou­ples who stay to­gether till death do they part are not as rare as imag­ined.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - HAU BOON LAI

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.

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