Marriage is ideally meant to be an eternal bond between two people, till death do they part. Of course, these days it’s more like “till death or divorce do they part”—and that trend is only amplified in the celebrity world, where wedlock seems to go in and out of style as easily as people’s careers.
For every celebrity married couple that’s managed to weather the storm together, there’s another that’s dissolved in less time than it took for the ink to dry on the marriage license. Here, a look at some of Hollywood’s most and least successful pairings.
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman
Perlman originally guest-starred as Danny DeVito’s girlfriend on his hit television show, Taxi. By the time she starred in her own show, Cheers, she was married to him. The two have been together since 1982 and have three children together. They’re known for their successful marriage almost as much as they are for their onscreen talent.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
Married twenty-one years to date, this couple continues to thrive together, despite having had some very public ups and downs. They’ve not only endured busy lifestyles, but also survived near bankruptcy following that Bernie Madoff debacle. Any couple that can power through a Ponzi scheme can only emerge stronger.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
One of Hollywood’s current power couples, these two have been married for twenty-two years. Their union says as much about them as quality people (Hanks is universally known for being a great guy) as it does about their commitment to each other. Hanks and Wilson have two children and often collaborate behind the scenes as producers.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
It really was only death that broke these two apart: Newman and Woodward had been married fifty years when he passed away in 2008, at age eighty-three. The two met back when they were understudies for a play and married in 1958. They were Hollywood royalty in their day, had three children together, and later parlayed their good fortune into a successful food company and nonprofit organization known as Newman’s Own. Even today, the couple continues to represent the gold standard for successful marriage.
Britney Spears and Jason Alexander
This was the shortest union heard ’round the world—in 2004, these two former childhood acquaintances were wed a mere fifty-five hours before the then mega–pop star came to her senses. Their Las Vegas marriage was quickly annulled, but not before the media painted a pre-conservatorship Brit-Brit in a crazy light.
Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley
These two tumultuous lovebirds gave marriage the ol’ college try, only to see theirs fall apart in just over three months. Married in August 2002, they filed for divorce in November, citing irreconcilable differences. As Presley put it at the time, “I’m sad about this, but we shouldn’t have been married in the first place. It was a big mistake.”
Drew Barrymore and Tom Green
The funnyman and the film star toughed out their 2002 marriage for five months before calling it quits in December of that year. The sadder part is that this union was more successful than Barrymore’s previous one, to Jeremy Thomas, which lasted just thirty days.
Shannen Doherty and Ashley Hamilton
She was the bitchy outcast of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame; he was the nineteen-year-old son of George Hamilton. After a two-week courtship, the two got hitched. Alas, their whirlwind romance barely withstood five months as a marriage. Doherty wouldn’t fare much better in her second marital attempt (with Rick Salomon), which ended after just nine months. It probably didn’t help that the guy was best known for his part in the Paris Hilton sex tape scandal, but still …
Surviving the day-to-day grind of married life is challenging for any couple, let alone a celebrity one. The fact that these actors chose to enter matrimony in the first place, despite all those high divorce-rate statistics, at least speaks to their commitment to love (or, in some cases, their belief in the justice system to get them out of said commitment). Either way, we regular folks can certainly learn a lesson from their successes and mistakes.