I’ll Stand By You: Successful Hollywood Marriages

Not All Hollywood Marriages Go Bad: Success Stories in the Land of Splitsville
By Pat Gallagher Posted Mar 6th 2011 12:00PM

In the land of 10-minute marriages, there have been some successful and long term unions along the way. It’s relatively hard to live happily ever after in tinsel town, but a few have managed to beat the odds. Let’s take a look at some happily married Hollywood marriages that have endured beyond the quarter-century mark.

One of the rock-steadiest couples around is Jay Leno and his wife of 31 years, Mavis. They met in 1976 when she was in the audience at one of his stand-up gigs. Legend has it that after Leno finished his set, he dashed over to the ladies room where he anticipated Mavis would be waiting in line. Bingo. Leno spoke to PopEater about the secrets to his happy marriage and put it in poignant terms.

“I enjoy being in the room with my wife,” he tells us. “When she’s reading and I’m fixing the car, just knowing that she’s right over there, I like that, I like that feeling, I’m comfortable with that. I know so many men and women, you know, they take the long way home subconsciously, they stop off and they have a drink. Do you know what that means? It means you don’t want to go home. I like to go home, and when you don’t want to go home, that’s a bad sign. That’s really the trick.”


Martin Sheen and Janet Templeton (1961) 50 Years
Martin Sheen has seen trouble in paradise brewing for his son Charlie for a while now and has to deal with his coping skills, but his wife of nearly 50 years has stood by his side through thick and thin. No marriage stands the course of time without a few bumps in the road. (Sheen suffered a heart attack when he was 39 and almost died, and suffered through his own bouts of alcohol abuse as a young man that he got through when he rejoined his faith.). Sheen and his wife Janet should write a “marriage for dummies” book to help the rest of us learn how to ride out the rough spots unscathed. On December 23, they will celebrate their Golden Anniversary — their 50th. Any couple who celebrates that milestone deserves a gold medal. Congratulations, Martin and Janet!

Ron and Cheryl Howard (1975) 36 Years
Director Ron Howard has grown up before our very eyes, first as the adorable Opie on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ and then as teenager Richie Cunningham on ‘Happy Days.’ Howard married his high school sweetheart Cheryl Alley when he was only 21. They have three daughters (actress Bryce Dallas, 29; twins Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige Carlyle, 25; and son Reed Cross, 23). Great trivia: His daughters’ middle names indicate where they were conceived (Dallas, Texas and the Hotel Carlyle in New York City). Howard said that his son Reed Cross was named after a London street because “Volvo isn’t a very good middle name.” Can you say “sense of humor” boys and girls?

Dan Aykroyd and Donna Dixon (1983) 28 Years
Dan Akyroyd, who was one of the original cast members of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ has not let success go to his head. He has managed to keep the home fires burning with his second wife, actress Donna Dixon. He married the beautiful actress (with whom he starred in movies ‘Doctor Detroit,’ ‘Spies Like Us’ and ‘The Couch Trip’) after his first marriage to Maureen Lewis ended in divorce in 1974. They have welcomed three daughters along the way. Strange bedfellows obviously haven’t been a problem in their marriage. So, Donna, if you have ” an invisible man sleeping in your bed, who you gonna call?” (Ghostbusters!)

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman (1982) 29 Years
Danny DeVito (aka Louie De Palma on ‘Taxi’) and Rhea Perlman (aka Carla Tortelli on ‘Cheers’) met while filming the sitcom ‘Taxi’ in 1978.’ They married on January 28, 1982 and have had three children, a son and two daughters. When someone once asked DeVito what’s the secret to their successful marriage, he reportedly replied, “Love. Love. I mean, really. You know what? Who knows. The secret to success is to try to never figure that out.”

Mickey Rooney and Jan (1978) 33 Years
It’s hard to believe Mickey Rooney turns 91 in September. This Hollywood legend will celebrate 33 years of marriage this year with his eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin. Rooney, whose first marriage to the voluptuous actress Ava Gardner ended after only a year, once joked (after several failed marriages) that his marriage contract reads: ‘To Whom it May Concern.’

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne (1982) 28 Years
Rock star Ozzy Osbourne, who has been married twice (he was first married to Thelma Riley; they had two children together) married second wife Sharon Arden in Maui, Hawaii on July 4, 1982 and has three children with her: Aimee, Kelly and Jack. Sharon has admitted that she has no regrets about taking her husband away from his first wife “because it turned out so well.” All’s well that ends well? Summon the Batmobile.

Ed O’Neill and Catherine (1986) 25 Years
Ed O’Neill’s sexy ‘Modern Family’ TV wife Sofia Vergara may keep him happy on set, but his real life wife of 25 years ”“ actress Catherine Rusoff (who appeared in two episodes of ‘Married… with Children’) ”“ must be doing something right at home while keeping his former alter ego ‘Al Bundy’ in check. Even though they reportedly separated for four years, they hung tight, reconciled, and have two daughters together.

Henry Winkler and Stacey (1978) 33 Years
Henry Winkler, who is best known for his role as Fonzie on the 1970s sitcom ‘Happy Days,’ has been married to Stacey Weitzman since May 5, 1978. They have two children and Winkler has a stepson from Stacey’s first marriage to attorney Howard Weitzman. The “Fonz” may have had a way of snapping his fingers to make the ladies come running back in the day, but we’re betting he doesn’t try that at home. He’s earned the reputation of being the nicest guy in Hollywood. He’s currently appearing on USA’s ‘Royal Pains.’

Bette Midler and Martin von Haselberg (1984) 27 Years
Bette Midler has delighted audiences for over 45 years as a singer, comedian, actress and author. She waited till the ripe “old” age of 39 to walk down the aisle with Martin von Haselberg, approximately six weeks after meeting him. Together they have one daughter Sophie, 24. Obviously what has kept their love light on for 27 years is their ability to compromise. Midler once joked, “I married a German. Every night I dress up as Poland, and he invades me.” Devine! We love it!

Jeff Foxworthy and Pamela Gregg (1985) 26 Years
Jeff Foxworthy may be the most well-known, self-acclaimed redneck on the planet, but his wife Pamela (whom he calls Gregg) must enjoy roughing it. We’re guessing she keeps her husband’s Redneck Dictionary on her night stand for reference so she can communicate with him. In the meantime, Foxworthy must “listen” a lot. He once joked, “If you break into my house, I will shoot you. My wife will shoot you and then spend thirty minutes telling you why she shot you.”

Andy Griffith and Cindi Knight (1983) 28 Years
Actor and comedian Andy Griffith met his third wife Cindi when she was a dancer in The Lost Colony Theater in Manteo, N.C. They were married in April 1983 when he was 56 and she was 27.” It was a very slow romance to develop, over years of time … Andy is a fine man,” Cindi once told The Virginian-Pilot. Cindi ”“ who Andy refers to as “the light of my life” ”“ and Andy are currently enjoying retirement on their waterfront estate in N.C.

Jeff Bridges and Susan Geston (1977) 34 Years
Actor Jeff Bridges met Susan on the movie set of ‘Rancho Deluxe.” The movie was filmed on a ranch where Geston was employed as a waitress. Bridges’ fear of marriage surfaced during an interview with Reader’s Digest in 2006: “I don’t know how it is for women or for other guys, but when I was young and in my 20s, I had a fear of marriage. I thought it was a giant step toward death. So I did everything in my power to resist it – the idea was frightening to me, man. Then I met Susan Geston in 1974 while I was shooting the film ‘Rancho Deluxe’ in Montana, up in Paradise Valley at Chico Hot Springs, and I thought,’ Now, this is interesting.'” After dating, breaking up and making up, the two lovebirds married on June 5, 1977.

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