Hollywood Odd Couples

Feel free to listen to this tune as you read:

Love comes in many forms and opposites attract- Paula Abdul even said so in her music video with the singing cat.
However, sometimes people marry who just don’t quite seem to fit.
Here are a few examples of some odd Hollywood couples.  Apparently, these celebrities agree that the puzzle pieces didn’t quite fit since all of these marriages ended in divorce.
These prove that Neil Simon doesn’t have the market cornered on odd couples.

Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman (June 26, 1964 – July 28, 1964)

Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine on their wedding day in 1964.

Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine on their wedding day in 1964.

Borgnine was the gruff working man in films and Merman was the glamorous Broadway diva. The two met in November of 1963, the same year Borgnine divorced from his wife, Mexican actress Katy Jurado.
Merman was nine years older than Borgnine. After they met, Borgnine started courting Merman.
“I’ve never been in love, really in love, before,” Merman told reporters according to Ethel Merman: A Life by Brian Kellow. “For the first time in my life I feel protected.”
After a six month courtship, the two were married.
“Everyone thinks she’s loud and brash. But she’s the opposite,” Borgnine was quoted in Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman by Caryl Flinn. “She’s soft, gentle and shy. And you know me, I’m ‘Marty.’”
The two married on June 26, 1964 and were divorced 32 days later on July 28, 1964.
Merman never gave reasons for the divorce and Borgnine said in interviews it’s because more people knew him than her on their honeymoon.
“Everybody knew me, but they didn’t know Ethel overseas,” Borgnine said in an interview. “The more they recognised me, the madder she got. That’s what hurt her, so she started taking it out on me.
After the divorce, Merman referred to the marriage as “That thing.” In her autobiography, the chapter “My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine” is one blank page.

Ava Gardner and Mickey Rooney (Jan. 10 1942 – May 21, 1943)

Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner in 1941.

Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner in 1941.

Newcomer to MGM Ava Gardner met star Mickey Rooney when he was dressed as Carmen Miranda for “Babes on Broadway.” While dressed as the Brazilian Bombshell, Rooney asked Gardner for her number.
North Carolinian, inexperienced Gardner had just arrived to Hollywood and Rooney was a well-known playboy.
“I married him because he wanted to get in my britches,” Gardner once said. “And I wasn’t going to let him until we were married.”
MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer and Rooney’s parents were not pleased with the couple’s marriage.
“I fell madly in love with Ava the first night I went out with her,” Rooney once said. “And later when I asked her to marry me, she wouldn’t have any part of it, like the problem I had getting her number, until I wore her down.”
Rooney spoke fondly of his brief marriage to Gardner in a documentary on her life. The documentary said Gardner thought their marriage would be like her parents: cooking for Rooney and having children. Rooney preferred the night life.

Gloria Swanson and Wallace Beery (March 27, 1916 – March 1, 1919)

gloria wallace

Wallace Beery and Gloria Swanson

“Two of the more trivial topics I never discuss are my marriage to Wallace Beery and those frozen dinners which have become famous with my name on them,” Gloria Swanson said.
The two were married after they starred in “Speedie Goes to College” in 1915.
Swanson was a glamorous leading lady and Beery was a gruff, burly man who was notoriously difficult to work with.
Swanson writes in her autobiography “Swanson on Swanson” that Wallace Beery made many forceful advances on their wedding night, leaving her bleeding and in pain.
Swanson also wrote he would pick up her salary for her at the studio and spend it before she saw it.
Beery cheated on Swanson and was abusive. In her autobiography, she writes that he gave her pills when he found out she was pregnant, and implies Beery made her get an abortion.
She woke up in the hospital and a nurse told, “You have nothing to be down in the mouth about, honey. You’re young. You’re pretty. You’ve got all the time in the world to have another baby.”
The couple separated and divorced two years later.

Richard Ney and Greer Garson (July 24, 1943 – Sept. 25, 1947)

Greer Garson and Richard Ney

Greer Garson and Richard Ney

Ney met Garson while he was playing her son in the film “Mrs. Miniver.”
He was 12 years younger than the Academy Award winning actress.
Ney asked Garson out for dinner and dancing, and she accepted, but she remained distant from her on-screen son during the remainder of the filming for “Mrs. Miniver.”
“I went dancing with Mr. Ney and I had the most beautiful time,” Garson was quoted in saying A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson by Michael Troyan.
MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer disapproved of their relationship and it would be unfavorable publicity for an on-screen mother and son to date, according to Troyan’s book.
They kept their romance secret until “Mrs. Miniver” premiered, and Mayer was right- the couple received unfavorable publicity. Garson told reporters she wanted to marry Ney because he made her feel younger, Troyan wrote.
However, gossip columns began talking about their unraveling marriage.
In the second Miniver film, “The Miniver Story,” Ney’s character was recast.

Linda Darnell and J. Peverell Marley (April 18, 1943 – Feb. 20, 1951)

Pev Marley and Linda Darnell on their wedding day.

Pev Marley and Linda Darnell on their wedding day.

Darnell was 20 when she married 42 year old Marley.
Darnell started in Hollywood as a teenager and didn’t have a father figure growing up. The cinematographer was sort of a mentor to the young girl, according to the Biography documentary, “Fallen Angel.”
Marley was a close friend of Darnell’s frequent leading man Tyrone Power. Marley helped sculpt Darnell’s Hollywood image, according to the book Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream by Ronald L. Davis.
Marley and Darnell would occasionally frequent night clubs but the press dismissed him as an old friend and escort, according to Davis’s book.
While Pev Marley remained a constant form of strength, the two eloped to Las Vegas. Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was furious, saying it would ruin her image. No one had seen the two as more than friends.
“I like him and age doesn’t matter,” Darnell wrote in fan magazines. “I feel people meant well when they busy bodied about me marrying Pev. It’s just they couldn’t know the truth.”
Darnell announced the two separated while filming “My Darling Clementine” (1946), but then the two began seeing each other while she was filming “Forever Amber” (1947). The two then adopted Charlotte, nicknamed “Lola.” They separated again in 1948 and finally divorced in 1952.

Lupe Velez and Johnny Weissmuller (Oct. 8 1933 – 1939)

Lupe Velez and Johnny Weissmuller in 1935.

Lupe Velez and Johnny Weissmuller in 1935.

Velez’s relationship had recently ended with Gary Cooper when she met Weissmuller.
She was known as the “Mexican Spitfire” and Weissmuller was Hollywood’s Tarzan.
Velez and Weissmuller were staying in the same hotel one night. She called up his room to ask him down for a drink. He hung up on her because he thought it was someone joking. Velez called back and was furious. He apologized and went down to her room, according to the book Tarzan, My Father by Johnny Weissmuller.
Weissmuller was already married to Bobbe Arnst when he started his relationship with Lupe in 1932.
Weissmuller’s son wrote that Velez was good for Johnny, because she was funny and made him laugh. However, she was also supposedly a manic depressive and had low times and also had a very bad temper.
“Dad just couldn’t handle her,” Weissmuller, Jr. wrote.
Once they were married, the two realized they were opposites. Velez went to bed late and woke up late and Weissmuller went to bed early and woke up early. Lupe was spontaneous and Weissmuller wasn’t. She once said in 1934 she felt they would go on quarreling forever, according to the book Lupe Velez: The Life and Career of Hollywood’s “Mexican Spitfire” by Michelle Vogel.
The two separated several times and Velez had several affairs, Weissmuller, Jr. wrote.
But the couples split was supposedly over a dog, according to both Vogel and Weissmuller, Jr.
Weissmuller came home and his dog Otto didn’t great him. When he asked Velez where he was, she said a stranger came in and killed him. Weissmuller said she was lying, packed his bags and never returned.

Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe (June 29, 1956 – Jan. 20, 1961)

Play write Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe in 1956.

Play write Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe in 1956.

Though Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were an odd couple, they seem normal in comparison to Monroe and play wright Arthur Miller.
Monroe’s glittering screen persona better matched DiMaggio’s baseball fame better than Miller’s literary standing.
Miller liked how Monroe listened to his ideas. Monroe liked how intelligent he was and how he supported her career and ambitions, unlike DiMaggio, according to the book The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
When they married, Miller told the press that Monroe would make one film every 18 months, lasting eight weeks shooting time, and be a wife when she wasn’t making films, according to BBC.
Their relationship supposedly started to decline during the filming of “Let’s Make Love” (1960).  Monroe had an affair with Yves Montand, who was also friends with Miller, according to Arthur Miller: His Life and Work by Martin Gottfried.
Supposedly their divorce was over their different lifestyles. At the time of their divorce, Miller was working the script for Monroe’s film, “The Misfits” but it was said they barely spoke on set, according to the BBC.
Monroe died nearly a year later after their divorce.
Apparently Miller was “haunted by Monroe” because he “never resolved their relationship or understood his role in the public’s ongoing obsession with her,” according Gottfried’s book.

Betty Grable and Jackie Coogan (Nov. 20, 1937 – Oct. 8, 1940)

Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable in "College Swing" (1938)

Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable in “College Swing” (1938)

The glamour girl marries the former child star turned comedian.
The couple had a long engagement and Grable’s contract didn’t allow her marry before she was 21, according to Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary.
Grable and Coogan were married while he was fighting his lawsuit over misappropriation of the salary he earned as a child star. Part of the reason their marriage dissolved was over the stress of Coogan’s trial trying to get his money back, according to Dickie Moore’s book no child stars ““Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (but don’t have sex or take the car).”
“Betty was working hard on her career getting nowhere (her career didn’t take hold until 1939), and she was paying all the bills,” according to Jackie Coogan: The World’s Boy King by Diana Serra Cary.
Once the lawsuit was finally settled, Grable came home from the studio to find all of their wedding gifts gone and Coogan had sold them. The only thing left in the house where the stove, refrigerator and beds, according to Cary’s book.
Coogan also started heavily drinking. For the millions of dollars squandered by his mother and stepfather, he received $80,000 in the settlement.
After Grable signed with Fox, she filed for divorce. In 1940, she became a star with “Down Argentine Way” and Coogan, who at one time had been on top, was struggling. His time spent fighting in World War II was what helped him straighten out, Coogan told Moore in his book.

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles (Sept. 7, 1943 – Dec. 1, 1948)

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles sign their marriage license in 1943.

Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles sign their marriage license in 1943.

Rita Hayworth was Hollywood’s love goddess, though rather down to Earth in real life. Orson Welles was the controversial intellectual, scaring the Americans with the “War of the Worlds” broadcast and getting his film “Citizen Kane” banned from mainstream movie houses.
They were labeled the Beauty and the Brain.
But of her five husbands, Hayworth is said to have cared for Welles the most and called him the love of her life, according to The Hollywood Book of Breakups  by James Robert Parish.
Hayworth was dating Victor Mature when Welles met her and Mature went to fight in World War II. Hayworth turned him down many time but Welles said he “persevered” and he won her over.
“It took me five weeks to get Rita to answer the phone,” Welles once said. “But once she did, we were out that night.”
Her shyness is what attracted Welles, according to Orson Welles: A Biography by Barbara Leaming.
Under Welles’ influence, Hayworth read more literature. He even transformed her sexy redhead image by making her an icy blond for his noir film “The Lady from Shanghai” (1947). The public was not pleased.
“Orson Welles was trying something new with me on The Lady from Shanghai (1947) but Harry Cohn wanted The Image — The Image he was going to make me until I was 90,” Hayworth once said.
Their marriage was disintegrating after “The Lady from Shanghai” was completed. Hayworth accused him of being with other women and Welles didn’t understand her jealousy. Though they tried to reconcile, Hayworth eventually filed for divorce, according to Leaming’s book.
“I can’t take his genius anymore,” Hayworth said when they divorced.

Who are some Hollywood couples you always thought were interesting matches? Comment below and tell us who and why!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Hollywood Odd Couples

    • Thanks, Raquel! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Carlos!
      They are, aren’t they? And assuming Swanson was telling the truth in her autobiography…it sounds like a terrifying marriage too.

      Like

  1. Hadn’t heard that Garson/Ney one before. That’s a shame his part was recast for the sequel– the sheer amount of on-screen awkwardness would have been amazing.

    Like

  2. Great article! My favorite Hollywood odd couple has to be Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow–he was something like 30 years older than she was. They were married a very short time, until he became angry that Mia would not finish filming Rosemary’s baby in time for her to costar with him in The Detective. So he hired Lee Remick for the role and filed for divorce. Years later, Mia says Frank was the love of her life, they continued their affair throughout the 70s and 80s, and that her child Ronan Farrow is really Sinatra’s child, not Woody Allen’s.

    Like

  3. Both of Jean Harlow’s Hollywood marriages seem pretty strange affairs. Think if she’d married Powell that might have worked more normally, but the 2 she did have…rolls eyes…

    Like

Comments are closed.