It seems there isn’t a month that goes by without news of a celebrity couple filing for divorce with the usual “irreconcilable differences” reasoning, or another promising famous pairing splitting up after just dating for a while. Long-lasting relationships, much less marriages, are exceedingly rare — especially in Hollywood. So it’s almost weird to see a celeb couple who are in it for the long haul.
That said, some Tinseltown couples have been together for years, but never stopped to even consider getting married. “For people like us, the marriage certificate wasn’t going to create anything that otherwise we wouldn’t have,” Kurt Russell, for example, told People about his longtime relationship with Goldie Hawn in December 2020. “I don’t know. 40 years isn’t enough to finally say, ‘Well I guess… .'” For her part, Hawn added that “sometimes marriage doesn’t work,” noting that a piece of paper won’t change the natural progression of a relationship. “It’s not about the marriage. It’s about the people and the relationship, and the will to stay together,” she said.
Hey, whatever works for you, right? But the couples below did decide to tie the knot — and when they said “till death do us part” at the altar, they actually meant it. These are some of the celebrity couples who have celebrated at least 50 years together.
Ron Howard: 'There was never anybody else' after meeting wife Cheryl
Ron Howard’s transformation from child star to big time studio director is a Hollywood story for the ages. But one of the greatest events in his life happened on Nov. 1, 1970. That’s when he had his first date with his now wife, Cheryl Howard. “We went to see a re-release of Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad Mad Mad World and then got some pizza at now defunct Barnone’s in Toluca Lake. Quite a start, right?” the Apollo 13 director wrote on Instagram to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that night in 2020. “We’ll be driving in the same ’70 VW Bug I picked Cheryl up in 5 decades ago. It runs great. So do we.”
During an 2019 interview with People, Ron opened up about their meet-cute while he was a junior at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif. “I met her, and there was never anybody else,” he said. (Cue a chorus of awws.) He also revealed the key to their long-lasting relationship: “People say, ‘How’d you do it?’ There’s no technique. There’s no tactic other than communication is really important. You have to learn to communicate and have difficult conversations in constructive ways.” Ron added, “Beyond that, there’s an element of luck because people either grow together or they don’t and I don’t think you can force that.”
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have celebrated well over 50 years together
At the time of this writing, Jimmy Carter is the oldest living former United States president at the age of 96. Standing by his side for a vast majority of those years has been his beloved wife, Rosalynn Carter. With the pair celebrating their 74th wedding anniversary on July 7, 2020, the Carters are officially “the longest-married presidential couple,” according to People.
Rosalynn even held massive influence over Jimmy’s inner circle once he entered politics, with a source telling the outlet back in 1976, “If Rosalynn okays you, you’re in. If she doesn’t, you’re dead.” On the campaign trail during his 1980 run against Ronald Reagan, Jimmy called his wife his “secret weapon.” In the 2020 book, What Makes a Marriage Last, the former first lady explained one of the reasons their marriage has spanned the decades: “Jimmy has always thought I could do anything. Always. And so I’ve done everything. I’ve done things I never dreamed I could do.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy also talked about their relationship in the book (via USA Today), revealing how he’d known Rosalynn “since the day she was born,” because they grew up as next door neighbors. Their first date was a double date with Jimmy’s sister, Ruth (a.k.a. Rosalynn’s best friend), and her boyfriend, which is where the Carters shared their first kiss. “I never was doubtful about her, and that Christmas, I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me,” Jimmy explained.
Kirk and Anne Douglas spent nearly seven decades together
Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas, the star of such classic films as Spartacus and Paths of Glory, met his producer wife, Anne Douglas (née Buydens), on the set of the 1953 movie, Act of Love. They were both in relationships at the time, but got hitched the following year in Las Vegas (via People) and remained together until Kirk’s death on Feb. 5, 2020.
But their love affair, which spanned nearly seven decades, wasn’t without its share of problems. Kirk was a known philanderer, but the fact that he was open and honest about his affairs made Anne realize that she was his ride or die. “Kirk never tried to hide his dalliances from me,” she wrote in their 2017 book, Kirk and Anne (via People). “As a European, I understood it was unrealistic to expect total fidelity in a marriage.” Hey, whatever works, right?
During a 2017 interview with USA Today, Douglas jokingly called Anne “the most difficult woman [he’d] ever met,” because she wasn’t impressed by his offer for a date. “I mean, I was a big movie star! And I invited her to dinner and she said, ‘Oh thank you very much, but I’m so tired.'” However, he eventually won her over when he stopped taking himself too seriously. “That’s what got me,” Anne said. “… It was showing me that he was able to do things that are not expected from him.” As for Kirk, he wrote that he quickly knew he would be “lost without her.”
Samuel L. Jackson and wife LaTanya Richardson are 'not done dancing' after 50 years
It’s safe to say Samuel L. Jackson is an American icon. The venerable actor has been in so many classic movies that there are too many list. But before his global fame and decades-spanning career, he met LaTanya Richardson in 1970 while they were both attending Morehouse College (via The Guardian). They’ve been inseparable ever since.
On Aug. 18, 2020, the Pulp Fiction actor wrote a touching tribute to his wife on their 50th anniversary together. “50 years ago we started dancing, it was all fun & games. 40 years ago today, s**t got real! The slow drag of our lives pressed together, I led sometimes, sometimes she did. We finally found that rhythm where there was no leader, we moved as one,” Samuel wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a sweet photo of them dancing. “We’re still glued together, hip to hip, a holding each other up, not covering as much of the floor, but owning & loving the space that’s ours. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY [LaTanya]. Love You for keeping me on my toes & on the beat for 18,250 days. You make my soul sing‼️ Don’t change the tune, we’re not done dancing.”
A singer and accomplished actor in her own right, LaTanya credits her faith for their long-lasting relationship. “You can’t do this without the Lord. You’re going to have to turn to somebody, something — because men, they are different,” she told Essence in 2018.
George H.W. and Barbara Bush fell in love at a high school dance
Former United States President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were married in 1945, and remained that way until her death in 2018 at the age of 92. According to CBS This Morning, the couple met as teenagers at a high school dance in 1941 and the sparks instantly flew. “I married the first man I ever kissed,” Barbara once said. “When I tell this to my children, they just about throw up.”
She continued, “I fell in love with him practically at first sight, probably. Went home and told my mother about him. She should have been the head of the CIA. She knew everything about him the next morning. But he’s just a — he’s a very giving, he’s never once said ‘no’ to me.”
The couple spent over 70 years together, and George was with Barbara when she took her last breath. “He held her hand all day today and was at her side when she left this good earth,” the former POTUS’ chief of staff, Jean Becker, told ABC News. In a statement announcing his wife’s death, George said, “I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world, and in fact I used to tease her that I had a complex about that fact … We have faith she is in heaven, and we know life will go on — as she would have it.” A reportedly “heartbroken” George died seven months later at 94.
Bob Newhart and wife Ginnie are 'never happy being apart'
It’s rare to have two highly successful television shows during a career, but deadpan comedic legend Bob Newhart pulled that off with ease in the 1970s with The Bob Newhart Show and again in the 1980s with Newhart. His career lasted so long that he received his first Emmy Award in 2013 at the age of 84. By his side the entire time has been his wife of nearly 60 years, Ginnie Newhart.
The couple, who were married in 1963, owe their relationship to another legendary comedian: Buddy Hackett. “Well, we’re both Catholic. She’s three quarters Irish. I’m three quarters Irish,” Bob told People in 2019. “Buddy said, ‘I’ve got a girl for you. She’s going with another guy, but I don’t think he’s right for her, so I’m going to fix you up on a blind date. You’ll meet her and you’ll date and you’ll get married. Then you’ll have kids and you’ll call one of the kids Buddy.'” Hackett certainly called it.
During a 2013 interview with City & Shore Magazine, Ginnie explained how their marriage has lasted so long. “I don’t know whether it’s our generation — divorce was just not in our vocabulary. Like anybody we had fights, and we had some pretty good ones,” she said. “But I was never happy being apart from him, and he was never happy being apart from me. When we both cooled down I’d say, ‘I’m miserable,’ and he’d say, ‘I’m miserable. OK, let’s end this.'”
Queen Elizabeth calls husband Prince Philip her 'strength'
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip just seem like they’ve always been married, don’t they? After first meeting as teenagers in 1934, the couple tied the knot on Nov. 20, 1947 — less than five years before Elizabeth ascended to the throne. But marital bliss wasn’t immediate. In order to marry the then-future Queen of England, Philip not only had to give up his Naval career, but also his Greek and Danish royal titles, per Biography. This reportedly made for a “very strained” marriage as he struggled to transition into his role as Prince Consort.
Of course, other royal marriages have fared much worse, and these two made it through, with their decades-long marriage staying strong ever since. The couple received the COVID-19 vaccine together in early 2021 and have been spending lockdown together tucked away in Windsor Castle, where they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary with little fanfare or a large gathering.
During their 50th wedding anniversary back in 1997, Elizabeth opened up about the man she fell in love with as a teen. “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” she said (via Biography). “And I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.” Although Philip has been retired from public life since 2017, his love affair with the queen is showing no signs of slowing down.
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara ended their comedy duo to save their marriage
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara got married in 1954, and later found success together in show business. While a younger audience might recognize Stiller from his work on Seinfeld, he and Meara were previously a prolific and famous comedy duo known as Stiller & Meara. However, they decided to hang it up in the 1970s after realizing they didn’t want their careers to be tied to one another for the sake of their marriage.
“I love Anne, but if I had depended on her in my professional life, I would have lost her as a wife,” Stiller told People. “We felt like two guys.” For her part, Meara stated that she “didn’t know where the act ended and our marriage began.” That decision only made their marriage stronger in the long term.
Sadly, their 61-year marriage came to an end in 2015, when Meara died at the age of 85, per CNN. “I miss her,” Stiller later said (via Country Living). “There were no walls between us in any way. We both knew what the other was thinking even when we weren’t listening.” Stiller died at the age of 92 in May 2020.
After more than 50 years, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett still keep each other laughing
On June 30, 2021, Boy Meets World star William Daniels and Emmy Award-winning actor Bonnie Bartlett would celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Fun fact: In 1986, the married couple both won Emmys for playing a fictional married couple on the medical drama St. Elsewhere. That was probably the easiest acting job they ever had, right?
During a Zoom interview with Forbes in early 2021, the couple discussed the reasons behind their longevity. “He makes me laugh,” Bartlett said in the clip posted to Daniels’ Instagram. “His sense of humor and his ability during every day to find something funny is really good for me, because I’m very intense.” She added, “So I honestly would say that and being a great father — he’s a great father.” For his part, Daniels said their long-lasting “relationship is based on mutual respect,” and then sang his wife’s praises.
“I think she is smarter than me, better actor than me, and so I just hang on, you know, and try to get along,” Daniels continued. To which Bartlett replied, “He doesn’t mean that at all!” Showing that humor that Bartlett loves so much, Daniels shot back, “I’m an actor! I’m making it up as I go along.”
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