Hollywood has earned the nickname “the dream factory” for a reason. It’s the town that’s made make-believe a big businesss, and one of its biggest exports is love stories. Films and TV shows featuring star-crossed lovers, odd couples, May-December romances and combustible relationships have long been Hollywood’s bread and butter.
Art imitates life, as they say, and many co-stars have fallen in love on set. Fame draws powerful personalities together. Sometimes they are stable bedrocks (see Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, or Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn). But more often than not, they tend to crash and burn (RIP Brangelina).
The music industry also peddles in the same lovestruck euphoria. The majority of hit songs are about the affairs of the heart. Musicians are often drawn to each other, and their relationships are often as overheated and unstable as the breakup songs that they sing. Reality TV stars and models are prone to the same romantic mishaps, too.
What we’re getting at is that powerful creative people often engage in relationships that are flat-out unhealthy for them, and disprove the notion that “opposites attract.”
Let’s look at 15 Celebrity Marriages Too Crazy For Hollywood.
15. Anna Nicole Smith and J Howard Marshall
When 26-year-old model, reality TV star, and Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith married 89-year-old oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, “gold-digger” accusations abounded.
Despite Smith claiming that she loved Marshall dearly, and that their age difference never mattered to her, she reportedly never slept with the billionaire or stayed at his home, and only kissed him a handful of times. They weren’t married for long: their relationship only lasted from 1994 until his death in 1995.
If Smith had any hopes of inheriting half of Marshall’s $1.6 billion estate, they were in vain. There was a fierce and lengthy legal battle between Marshall’s children and Smith, and an Inheritance court case dragged on for years, and even continued after her untimely death in 2007. In 2014 a judge denied her two children to any of Marshall’s fortune.
14. Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett
Julia Roberts was the most successful actress of the ’90s, and Lyle Lovett one of the quirkiest voices (and faces) in country music. Suffice it to say no one expected their two worlds to ever collide, especially in matrimony.
But that’s exactly what happened, and the duo were married from 1993-1995. Their short-lived marriage was a reclusive affair, with the two rarely making public appearances or taking high-profile vacations. That being said, they certainly seemed happy at the time: Lovett once proclaimed that “Our life is like one giant honeymoon.”
At least their union ended on a civil note, as the two have remained friends. A better outcome than Roberts prior relationship with Kiefer Sutherland. She broke up with him three days before they were to be wed in 1990 (instead she left on vacation with Sutherland’s friend, actor Jason Patric). Ouch.
13. Sean Penn and Madonna
Few relationships seized 1980s tabloids like the surprise marriage between the ever provocative Madonna and perennial bad boy actor Sean Penn.
Their relationship was unsurprisingly combustible.
The couple didn’t take kindly to paparazzi: Penn attacked a photographer, and was forced to serve 33 days in jail for assault. This did little to take them out of the headlines, of course, and they were held under a microscope the entirety of their marriage.
Both were raked over the coals for Shanghai Surprise, the 1986 box office flop they costarred together in, and their marriage always seemed in peril– Madonna filed for divorce in 1987, only to withdraw the papers. There were even rumors of assault, which Madonna has since denied.
12. Drew Barrymore and Tom Green
It’s fair to say no one saw this union coming. The combo of a deliberately obnoxious comedian Tom Green and the easygoing flower child drew Barrymore was definitely tabloid fodder when the two were married back in 2001 – and got divorced just a mere 163 days later.
Green reflected on his brief relationship (the two first met on the set of Charlie’s Angels) with Barrymore in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2014, saying “It was just a very short period of time that I had a brief marriage. I don’t really tend to talk about it that much comfortably [or] publicly. All of that was part of that sort of crazy, whirlwind of a time.”
11. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon
Carey and Cannon had quite the rollercoaster relationship, and made for prime tabloid fodder. Carey claimed Cannon was absent during a difficult pregnancy, and during a live performance dropped the line “I know you cheated, motherf***er.” She even dropped hints that they were living on different coasts.
Cannon, for his part, defended their relationship on social media, but it was clear there was trouble in paradise. For one, he had a cover-up tattoo placed over what was originally his wife’s name, and for another, Carey’s delayed and disheveled NBC Rockefeller Center Christmas performance was blamed on her filing divorce papers.
10. Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson
There was much internet outrage after Hutchinson, an actor best known his appearances on The X-Files, The Green Mile and Lost, married then 16-year-old Stodden in 2011. It’s worth noting Hutchinson was 34 years older at the time. While that act would normally be illegal, the license with granted when Stodden’s parents gave their consent, and their marriage was finalized.
Stodden and Hutchinson’s unconventional relationship is still controversial, however, thanks to their multiple reality show appearances featuring PDAs that have made many viewers’ skin crawl.
Hutchinson has claimed that his own family disowned him, and that his career has suffered in light of their relationship. Perhaps that strain caused the couple to separate in 2017– although they’re reportedly still living together.
9. Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley
What happens when a massive Elvis fan (see Cage’s performance in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart for reference) marries his daughter? That was the scenario when Cage wed Lisa Marie Presley back in 2002 – after just a 10 day engagement.
Odds were never good that their relationship would last, given Cage was freshly divorced from Patricia Arquette and this would mark Presley’s third marriage (the first being Danny Keough, and the second being Michael Jackson– more on that in a bit).
When the couple filed for divorce 107 days later, no one was very surprised.
It’s worth noting that Cage and Presley’s acrimonious divorce lasted a whopping 18 months, far longer than the time they were actually man and wife. It’s safe to say Cage probably avoids hearing Elvis songs like “Crying in The Chapel”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, and “Return to Sender” now.
8. Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie
The Hollywood romance that no one saw coming, Thornton and Jolie fell for each other on the set of the 2000 comedy Pushing Tin.
This was problematic given Thornton was engaged to Laura Dern at the time.
The public became fascinated by their bizarre exploits, from their lingering kiss and TMI on the red carpet, to Jolie getting his name tattooed on her arm, and both wearing vials of each other’s blood around their necks.
Why was Jolie so smitten with an actor who lacked the matinée idol looks that she was normally drawn to (see Brad Pitt and Jonny Lee Miller), and was 20 years older than herself? We’ll probably never know, but it was clear Thornton wondered the same, saying “I never felt good enough for her.” Perhaps that’s why their marriage only lasted for a mere 3 years.
7. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
The marriage between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes has always drawn public scrutiny. From their rushed engagement (Cruise popped the question only seven weeks after they first met) to Cruise’s manic couch jumping moment on Oprah while discussing their relationship, many felt things weren’t on the level.
A 2012 Vanity Fair article (along with the documentary Going Clear) claimed Scientology had been holding “wife auditions” in the aftermath of Cruise’s divorce from Nicole Kidman. According to both sources, Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi (of Homeland fame) was initially chosen to be his wife, but when things didn’t work out, Holmes (who was a recent Scientology recruit) was the next choice.
6. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley
The wedding between the late “King of Pop” and the daughter of “The King” (her second appearance on this list) raised eyebrows from the get-go. In addition to a complete lack of chemistry in all their public appearances there was always the question of why: what really drew these two together?
ABC’s Diane Sawyer tried to figure that out in a 2003 interview, with Lisa Marie Presley meekly saying “I fell in love with him. I did.” Nevertheless rumors persisted for each party’s true ulterior motives. Between claims that Scientology (of which Presley was a member) wanted to recruit Michael Jackson into the fold, and that Jackson thought it would help promote his new album, their nuptuals captured the world’s imagination.
5. Ted Nugent and Pele Massa
Okay, so technically these two were never married, but bear with this, because once you learn their story, you’ll know why they made this list!
Right Wing rocker Ted Nugent met Massa when he was 30, and she was only 17. He became so smitten he asked for her hand in marriage, but when he found out she was too young to legally wed, he looked for a workaround.
His solution? He convinced her parents to allow him to adopt her– yes, you read that right, and he became her legal guardian and they stayed together 9 years.
“It just really wasn’t a terribly appropriate situation in most people’s eyes,” Massa said in VH1’s Behind The Music. “And now, it would be criminal.” For a blowhard musician who speaks about “family values,” it’s clear Nugent has a very creepy and elastic use of the term.
4. Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe
Jackson met Rowe (a nurse) at the dermatology center where he was being treated for vitiligo. He told her he was worried he would never become a father after his divorce with Presley.
In an interview with ABC News, Rowe said that she told the singer, “Let me do this. I want to do this. You have been so good to me. You are such a great friend. Please let me do this. You need to be a dad, and I want you to be.”
They married in 1996, and she gave birth to children Paris Jackson and Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr.. They would separate in 1999, with Rowe giving him sole custody of their children. She tried to regain sole custody in 2004 (after Jackson was accused of child abuse), but was unsuccessful.
3. Martha Raye and Mark Harris
Legendary comedic actress Martha Raye had quite the tumultuous love life. She was married 7 times, but it was her final marriage to Harris, a former singer and dancer that drew the most headlines, due to their massive age difference (she was 75, he 42).
Many claimed Harris was more concerned with being included in her will than marital bliss.
Harris dismissed these claims, saying “Martha proposed to me! She needed a husband, or she was going to go to a nursing home,” adding “I haven’t murdered anybody. People go around mugging old women. I only married one.”
They were married from 1991 until her death in 1994, after which Harris spent Raye’s fortunes on multiple cosmetic surgeries and lavishly redecorating their home (including the addition of a nightclub). By comparison, Raye’s sole daughter received just one dollar.
2. Rock Hudson and Phyllis Gates
Rock Hudson was one of the biggest box office draws of 1950s. But his leading man status in successful rom-coms was put in jeopardy after Confidential magazine threatened to reveal he was gay in a salacious expose.
To combat the impending scandal, Hudson’s agent Henry Wilson arranged a marriage with his secretary, Phyllis Gates, which put the rumor to rest. They divorced in 1958 after only three years of marriage.
While Hudson and Gates’ image of domestic bliss was an illusion, Gates remained fond of her ex-husband. She told CNN’s Larry King in 2004 that the late actor (who died from complications from AIDS in 1985) was always fond of her, saying he “told some people he only loved two people in his whole life, and one was me.”
1. Kim Kardashian and Chris Humphries
When a celebrity marriage only lasts 72 days, clearly there was trouble in paradise, and the short-lived romantic union between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries was clearly ill-conceived. According to an inside source who spoke to Radar Online, it was a total sham to drive up ratings for Kardashian’s reality TV show.
“It was pretty much an arranged marriage right from the start,” the unnamed source (who reportedly worked on Keeping Up With Kardashian’s) said: “Kim was looking for a husband and Kris was selected for her…She wasn’t really into him…and by all accounts absolutely hated sleeping with him or even having to make out with him” going on to add “It was all orchestrated for TV, it was all for show. It was just too much.”
Humphries pretty much verified these claims when he filed for divorce under the claim of “fraud.”
What other ill-fated crazy Hollywood marriages would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments!
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