Hollywood Scandals that Shook the Silver Screen
Since the birth of silent films, audiences have been dazzled by celebrities and their personal lives — especially when it comes to their love interests. However, as a result of infidelity, overbearingness, or substance abuse, some of these relationships burned out all but too quick.
Johnny Cash and June Carter
It was the most iconic romance in country music history. Whether you’re a die-hard Johnny Cash fan or know him through the biopic with Joaquin Phoenix, anybody who knows anything about Johnny Cash knows about his great love, June Carter. Although both were married when they first met, their connection and chemistry were undeniable.
When the couple finally divorced their spouses, Cash proposed to Carter on stage at the London Ice House in front of 7,000 people in February 1968. Carter remarked that falling in love with Cash was like “a ring of fire.” Coincidently, Carter co-wrote the song inspired by her love for Cash.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley
Elvis “ain’t nothing but a hound dog” (his words not ours). Although the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll has been solidified as an iconic music figure, it doesn’t change his “romantic” liaison with his late wife Priscilla Beaulieu. The couple met in Germany, as Presley was stationed there during his enlistment. Beaulieu’s father, who was also in the military, was serving on the same military base.
Beaulieu was only 14 when she and Presley started dating. It was reported that Presley liked young and inexperienced women, and groomed Priscilla to be his “live-in Lolita.” When they married and had a daughter nine months later, Presley lost interest in his wife, and Beaulieu filed for divorce in 1973.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
The popular stigma is that Yoko Ono was the reason the Beatles split. Whether you were for or against Ono, it didn’t change Lennon’s feelings for in the slightest. There were multiple rumors about how the couple met, but the popular belief was that it occurred in 1966 at Ono’s contemporary art exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London.
Regardless of how the two met, their marriage was far from perfect. Not only did fans despise Ono, but Lennon had an affair with his assistant, May Pang, during his “Lost Weekend” period. Despite the ups and downs, however, Ono never blamed Lennon for his infidelity (Pang even asserts that she had her blessing). Their relationship ended, however, when John was assassinated in 1980.
Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen
The Sex Pistols shook the world with their brutal, anti-authoritarian form of punk rock. Despite their revolutionary sound, the band was better known for the abusive and violent romance between “bassist” Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. The two were inseparable, for good or ill, with Spungen serving as the ultimate enabler.
According to the Rolling Stone, “Nancy … taught Sid all about sex and drugs and the lifestyle of a New York rocker,” wrote Malcolm McLaren in The Daily Beast in 2009. Most in the Pistols circle maintain that Spungen was a low-life and drug supplier. Their relationship ended in 1978 when Spungen died at the Chelsea Hotel.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
Clark Gable was one of old Hollywood’s most celebrated and iconic celebrities. He was Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind and made popular for his charm, good looks, and reputation as “playboy.” That is … until he met Carole Lombard on-set in 1932 and it didn’t take long before the two totally smitten.
Their love was so strong that the two avoided a big wedding, instead, opting to elope in 1939. They were happily in love, unfortunately, their happiness wouldn’t last long. Lombard died in a plane crash in 1942 at the age of 33. Gable was devastated and never got over her. When he died in 1960, he was buried alongside his beloved wife.
Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is respectfully known as the “king of slapstick comedy” and his wife Anne Bancroft was a five-time Oscar nominee. How did such a pair come together? The two were married to other people when they met in 1961. Despite their marital convictions, they never stopped thinking about each other. When Bancroft and Brooks separated from their spouses, the got together, marrying in 1964.
They stayed married until Bancroft’s death in 2005. To which Brooks had this to say about his wife, “How many people could stand their wives for 24 hours? I could cry now,” he said. “She was easy … she was fun … I liked her so much. I couldn’t get enough of her.”
Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier
Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier’s love burned brightly, devouring them until nothing was left but ashes. Though both actors were married, it didn’t stop the couple from jumping into an affair that would become a Hollywood scandal. Olivier once said that falling in love with Leigh was something he couldn’t control and was more of an involuntary reaction and need.
Olivier said, “This wasn’t just out of lust. This was love that I really didn’t ask for but was drawn into.” Their affair led to their eventual marriage. However, their marriage fell apart under Leigh’s emotional instability and bipolar disorder (a diagnosis nonexistent at the time). The couple had suffered heartache, infidelity, and finally, divorce. A whirlwind romance fueled by adoration and love turned to cinders.
Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner was a knock-out Hollywood bombshell and everyone knew it, especially “Ole Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was married to his longtime sweetheart, Nancy, but one look at Ava Gardner’s green eyes had Sinatra buckling at the knees. The two began an affair that began and ended in conflict.
Once, Sinatra’s PR had to bail both Sinatra and Gardner out of prison after a drunken joyride at 3 a.m. When it was clear that their affair was public knowledge, Sinatra separated from his wife and married Gardner. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last long, but their relationship was a thing to behold.
Bonnie and Clyde
Who doesn’t know who Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were? The infamous duo were the menaces of the 1930s and met their end when ambushed by police in 1934. But did you know that Bonnie was married before meeting her gunslinging lover? Oh, yeah, Clyde wasn’t Bonnie’s only ride or die.
Just before Parker was sixteen, she wed her high school sweetheart, Roy Thornton. Of course, the marriage didn’t last long. After Thornton was incarcerated for robbery, Parker met Barrow and fell in love. but keeping her wedding ring, neglecting to divorce her first husband. The ring remained on her finger until her death in 1934.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor was famous for three things in her life, her celebrity, her jewels, and her marriages. Taylor had seven husbands and eight marriages but no love affair was more passionate than hers and Richard Burton’s.
Though the two met prior to their roles as Cleopatra and Mark Antony, although they weren’t exactly seeing each other through rose-colored lenses. In fact, they couldn’t stand each other. It wasn’t until their critically acclaimed roles in Cleopatra, that the two fell in love.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton continued
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were already married when beginning their affair on the set of Cleopatra. What’s worse? Taylor was already regarded as a homewrecker after stealing Debbie Reynolds’s husband, Eddie Fisher. That didn’t matter to Taylor and Burton. It was common knowledge that the two were having an affair on the set of Cleopatra, which eventually resulted in their divorces from their respective spouses.
Their first marriage would deteriorate due to Burton’s extramarital affair with a co-star in one of his later films. However, before the affair, there were already signs of wear and tear in their relationship. Constantly butting heads, their love was quickly extinguished and ignited at the drop of a hat, but their first marriage was considered “the wedding of the century.”
Natalie Wood and Christopher Walken
Before her death, Wood was a critically acclaimed actress whose career was solidified in roles such as West Side Story, Gypsy, and Miracle on 34th Street. Similar to her career, her personal life was constantly under scrutiny. Wood first saw Robert Wagner when she was 10 years old on a studio lot, where she told her mother that she was going to marry him.
Well, she eventually did so once in 1957 and then again in 1972. Unfortunately, the marriage was not a happy one. Wood was rumored to have an affair with Christopher Walken, an alleged affair that could have played into the mysterious circumstances of her untimely death.
Alfred Hitchcock and Tippie Hedren
Alfred Hitchcock makes us jump out of our skin time and time again. Unfortunately, the same can be said about his romantic gestures, specifically toward Tippi Hedren. Though the two were never in a romantic relationship, there were reports of Hitchcock assaulting the actress while on the set of The Birds.
In 2016, Hedren wrote in her memoir Tippi, that the director sexually assaulted her on the set of Marnie. She wrote, “I’ve never gone into detail on this, and I never will.” She also wrote how Hitchcock cornered her in her dressing room and promised to ruin her career after refusing him. Sheds a whole new light on horror.
Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo
There was never a more passionate love than that between Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. If Liz Taylor’s tumultuous relationship with Richard Burton was incendiary, Rivera and Kahlo’s love was a forest fire — consuming, wild, and unpredictable. Both were highly opinionated and passionate in their art, politics, and their marital roles.
The couple married in 1929 but divorced in 1940 due to both parties having extramarital affairs. None was worse than Rivera’s affair with Kahlo’s younger sister, Christina, which prompted her own affair with communist exile Leon Trotsky. However, their love was never extinguished, as they were married again from 1941 until Kahlo’s death in 1954.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward are serious marriage goals. The two stood the test of time — and were married for 50 years before Newman’s death in 2008. That’s a rare feat for any Hollywood celebrity. The two met in 1953 and were co-stars in The Long Hot Summer. Their chemistry was obvious, but they kept it chaste.
The actors remained “friends” until their marriage in 1957. Woodward said of their relationship: “Paul and I were good friends before we were lovers. We really liked each other. We could talk to each other, we could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust.”
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco
Grace Kelly was one of the most beautiful and talented actresses of her time. Despite her illustrious acting career, she dashed it all to become a royal. Of course, Grace Kelly is a princess in her own right, but it’s another thing to officiate it. Although she obtained a royal title, the life of a royal was far from ideal. Kelly had married her prince, but her life was far from a fairytale.
According to the Independent, Prince Rainier III was said to have been unfaithful to his princess months after their wedding and her role as a mother was distant and cold. Princess Caroline of Monaco revealed through Insider that she had a deeper relationship with her nanny than her mother, who was regarded as cold and distant. Ouch!
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Come one, everyone knew this was coming. Who wouldn’t talk about one of the biggest royal love stories? Markle is a divorcee and an outspoken activist, and His Royal Highness has been known as a playboy in the past. That all changed the moment Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got together, defying all odds and traditions.
Though the couple is faced with strict royal traditions and scrutiny, it doesn’t stop them from standing by each other’s side and deciding what’s right for them and their new family. What will happen in the distant future? We’re hoping for a happy ending.
Debbie Harry and Chris Stein
Before Blondie revolutionized the music world, its lead singer was known only as Debbie Harry. This all changed one night when Harry stood up on stage one night to perform in front of a large crowd. Nervous, she focused her gaze on a single silhouette shape in the crowd. That silhouette was none other than Chris Stein.
Not only did Stein help to form Blondie, but he would eventually become Harry’s lover and confidant. Unfortunately, their relationship didn’t last — but there is a happy ending. Although the two are no longer together, they remain close friends. Before her relationship with Stein, Harry was in an abusive relationship that could have resulted in a violent end.
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
For those growing up in the ‘90s, Nirvana’s Nevermind was in every cd player and wholly represented the angst of that decade. Not all their songs were rebellious, however, as there were also tender ballads inspired by the love of lead singer Kurt Cobain’s life, Courtney Love. The couple was formally introduced in 1991 and married within the year.
After the couple welcomed their first child, life seemed sweet. But their relationship quickly unraveled as both fell under the spell of drug addiction. It was said that it was Love who introduced Cobain to heroin and her desire to have an affair in France led Cobain into a coma after a failed suicide attempt. The couple remained married until Cobain’s death in 1994.
Sonny and Cher
Sonny and Cher were the equivalents to peanut butter and jelly or Nutella and ice-cream, they just go well together. Sure, their meeting wasn’t as saucy as, say Liz Taylor, but, their meeting was just as sweet. The two met at a club where they attended with separate partners and friends.
At the time, Sonny was attracted to Cher’s friend, but, as luck would have it, it was Cher who Sonny chose to dance with. If that wasn’t fortuitous, Sonny was also Cher’s neighbor. Once they discovered their close proximity, the two began living with each other. The decision was made when Cher couldn’t afford the rent and asked Sonny for a room, to which, Sonny agreed. The rest was history.
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
Neither their families nor studio executives approved of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s relationship. To them, it was a train wreck waiting to happen, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Instead, Bacall and Bogart’s relationship was one of the most romantic (and scandalous) relationships in Hollywood history. Bacall was only nineteen when she met Bogart (he was 45 at the time).
Bogart was to his then-third wife, but it was plain that Bogart and Bacall had sizzling chemistry that left the two gravitating toward each other. Executives did everything in their power to separate the two. They tried telling Bacall that Bogart was using her, only wanted what all men want from a woman (hint, it wasn’t her mind), while others told Bogart to sow his oats and dump her. The two didn’t listen and married in 1945. They remained married until Bogart’s death in 1957.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
We all know that Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess of the silver screen. She was the kind of woman who was seductive, classy, and knew how to respect herself. With her well of lovers, it was the married ones that we’re lucky to be Mr. Marilyn Monroe. None was so lucky as Joe DiMaggio.
The two married in 1954, but their marriage was quick to turn south. Their marriage lasted for nine months until their divorce in 1955. When DiMaggio died in 1999, his biography revealed that the reason for their split was their inability to produce children.
Marlon Brando and Maria Cristina Ruiz
Marlon Brando, like Marilyn Monroe, was a sex symbol and wasn’t ashamed to admit that his appetite stretched farther than simple carnal desire. Marlon Brando was married three times and had a total of sixteen children between his wives and affairs. One of said affairs was with Maria Cristina Ruiz who was Brando’s housekeeper.
They began a relationship in 1988 — one that lasted for 14 years. Their relationship produced three children, but that wasn’t the end of the drama. Once the two separated for good, Ruiz sued Brando for $100 million dollars, demanding her dues as Brando’s common-law wife. The couple allegedly wore wedding rings, though they were not legally married.
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston
Anjelica Houston is a name best recognized in roles in movies such as Ever After, Witches, and The Addams Family. But before Huston stepped into the spotlight, she had a prolific career as a model in New York, but quickly gave it up for the silver screen. When she moved to Los Angeles, she was swept off her feet by none other than Jack Nicholson. Once together, the two became an inseparable pair.
Despite their relationship, it never cemented into marriage. Nicholson wasn’t the monogamous type and enjoyed the company of various women while dating Houston. The relationship ended when Nicolson confessed to having an affair that resulted in the conception of his daughter, Lorraine Nicholson, in 1990.
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman
Nobody panic, there was no infidelity between Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, in fact, the two had a very healthy relationship (one that has spanned for over 40 years). The two met in 1970 while DeVito was acting in an off-Broadway production of The Shrinking Bride. It was during that production that he met Perlman.
The two instantly hit it off and moved in together two weeks later. Together, they had three kids and remained in good graces, and still are after their split in 2012. Though unfortunate, the two remain good friends (and married!) with no sight of finalizing their separation through a divorce.
Prince Charles and Lady Diana
Remember when Diana dished about Prince Charles’ extramarital affair with Camilla Bowles to BBC’s Martin Bashir? Who could forget that famous line, “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”? We certainly didn’t. Princess Diana was 20 years old when she married the heir to the English throne, a fairytale that the whole world was reading about day-in and day-out.
Princess Diana’s split with Prince Charles led to a life of complete isolation, one that quickly spiraled into depression. Although Diana was no longer a royal after her divorce from Prince Charles, she continued to do charitable work and remained a positive influence until her death in 1997.
Woody Allen and Mia Farrow
Mia Farrow and Woody Allen met in 1979 and began a relationship that lasted for 12 years. During that time, the two never married, but Allen was a constant figure in Farrow and her children’s lives. Then, in 1992, Farrow discovered nude polaroids of her daughter Soon-Yi Previn in Allen’s apartment. Farrow was obviously livid and one of the largest scandals in Hollywood history was uncovered.
The media claimed the relationship was incestuous and caused a long-standing drama between molestation and sexual abuse charges between Previn and her sibling Dylan Farrow. It wasn’t until 2018 that New York magazine interviews Previn about the incident, to which Previn claimed that her relationship with Allen blossomed organically when she was 21 and at the end of Allen’s relationship with Farrow.
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell’s relationship is one to admire, if not envy. Don’t worry, folks, nothing scandalous happened between these two, but, there is something to note about their longevity. A little background: The Hollywood duo were previously married before meeting one another in the early ‘80s. In fact, Hawn had married twice before meeting Russell in 1983.
But, did you know Russell and Hawn met in 1966 on the set of Disney’s, The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band? Dare I say their meeting was a little fortuitous if not foreshadowing (and — ahem — magical)? Want to know the secret to their 35-year marriage? Hawn says it’s all about balance…
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Out of all the top scandals in Hollywood, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s union was the juiciest. They met on the set of Mr & Mrs. Smith in 2003. Even on-screen, it was obvious the two had a thing for each other, acting or otherwise. At the time, Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston and Jolie was finalizing her divorce with Billy Bob Thornton.
Rumors spread that the two had an affair on set, but the couple were quick to discredit the rumors, that is, until 2005. Jennifer Aniston had filed for divorce but reported that it had nothing to do with the rumors swirling Jolie and Pitt. Aniston got the shock of her life in 2006 when Jolie told Vogue that she had developed feelings for her movie co-star, which eventually led to their twelve-year relationship.
Iman and David Bowie
Before David Bowie’s soul retired among the stars, he was known as an eccentric rock icon who changed the music scene with his androgynous appearance and wacky costumes. What wasn’t whacky was his relationship with Iman Abdulmajid. Though the couple was married before their union, it didn’t deter their search for love after.
In fact, it was Bowie who instantly fell for the ex-model. “My attraction to her was immediate and all-encompassing,” Bowie told Hello! Magazine in 2000. “I couldn’t sleep for the excitement of our first date. That she would be my wife, in my head, was a done deal. I’d never gone after anything…with such passion in all my life.”