Epic Old Hollywood Love Stories

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In a time when people struggle to find love let alone long lasting love, its good to look at examples of people who redefined what an epic love story is. Many of these Old Hollywood stars had long lasting marriages that lasted until their deaths. It takes a lot of give and take, communication, and compromise to make any relationship work so I commend those who do. In cases like Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier, whose twenty year marriage didn't last but it wasn't because they didn't love one another. In other instances like Desi and Lucy who loved each other but just couldn't live with one another are other examples of long lasting love but just not in the traditional sense. Truth be told, sometimes you can love someone but you just cannot live with them. It doesn't lessen the love between two people it just gives an example of another way to express love.

Some of these  Old Hollywood stars redefined love, gave love a second chance, or loved until their last breathe. They say love makes the world go around, I say it sure helps.

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy
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If fifty-two years of marriage isn't a success I don't know what is.  I loved how these two not only lived life together but worked together on such films as, Cocoon*batteries not included, and Foxfire to name a few. They both acted since a young age and had a long and successful movie and theater careers. I know most people will remember them as being older but they both were acting since the late 1930's-early 1940's. Look for one of their films, you will be delightfully surprised. Their union lasted for fifty-two years until Jessica's passing at the age of eighty-five in 1994.

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
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Leigh and Olivier became friends while filming "The Mask of Virtue" but by the film Fire Over England in 1937 they had become lovers. One problem though-they were both married at the time! Neither spouse signed the divorce papers so until 1940 they simply lived together secretly. They were married for twenty years, until 1960. Perhaps it might not have been the happiest marriage because of Leigh's mental illness, but there was  no doubt that they had a deep love and respect for one another. They enjoyed one another's company and loved working with each other doing theatre and film work. Even though Olivier remarried, he was at her bedside when she tragically passed on from a recurring bout with tuberculosis.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
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Bogart and Bacall married in 1945, when she was twenty and he was forty-five. They married quietly at a friends home and stayed married until his death in 1957. Although their relationship began as an affair, once married they were one of the most admired couples in Hollywood. Their love story even inspired a song by Bertie Higgins called "Key Largo". And although their age difference did bring some normal strain to their marriage it was indeed a successful one.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
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Newman and Woodward first met in 1953 but didn't pursue a relationship until after his divorce from  his first wife, Jackie. They had three daughters together and lived away from the Hollywood limelight. Perhaps that was one of the reasons their romance lasted for fifty years! Their marriage had its imperfections and even endured an affair, but they stuck by one another. That is something most people do not do in Hollywood today, nor does the rest of the world. Sometimes you have to stick around and go through the hard times in order to enjoy all the good. 

Kirk Douglas and Anne Buydens
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The film that brought Douglas and Buydens (A film producer) together was Anatole Litvak's "GI Love Story, Act of Love". Kirk poured on the charm, but said that, "I hit a wall." The first time he asked her out, "She said no, she was going to have some scrambled eggs and go to bed. I'd never been insulted so politely." Buydens didn't want to be just another one night stand but eventually they found a mutual love and respect for one another and after three weeks were married in May 1954. Buydens played her cards right because she stuck to her own moral code and didn't settle. On May 29, 2020 they would have celebrated their sixty-sixth wedding anniversary but Kirk passed away on February 5, 2020 at the age of one hundred and three.

James Cagney and Frances Vernon
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Cagney married a dancer named Frances Willard "Billie" Vernon in 1922, with who he remained with his entire life. Sounds simple enough huh? Not in Hollywood though! I found this completely endearing and refreshing and I had no idea Cagney was such a private man. And for Hollywood standards to be married only once until the end of your days is just simply  unheard of! They adopted two children and lived their lives quietly and very privately in upstate New York. Now that is a "Yankee Doodle Love Story" if I ever heard one.
Ricardo Montalban and Georgiana Belzer (Young)
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When you think of man from a Spanish speaking country, you figure he is the "Latin Lover" type and has women all over the place. Here comes Montalban to break that stereotype with sixty-three years of love and devotion. Now that's what I call romantic. Beltzer was the younger sister of Loretta Young and was a model and actress for a brief time. They married in 1944 and had four beautiful children together. Who says two people cannot make it work with a demanding career, children, and bills to pay? They did and did it so beautiful until their passing-fourteen months apart from one another.

Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards
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Julie Andrews who in our hearts will always remain the quintessential Mary Poppins, thought her first marriage would be her only. When things did not work out she found herself head over heels and quite surprised to find an enduring love with Black Edwards. They were married for forty-one years before his passing in 2010. Today she is a mother five children (two are from Edwards), grandmother to nine, and great-grandmother to three. Their love continues to grow and blossom within their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
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Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were just one of those couples you hoped you be. Not only did they have a fifty-seven year marriage but they frequently collaborated both on stage and in film. They met in 1946 while costarring in Robert Ardrey's Broadway play JebTogether they had three children: son, blues musician Guy Davis, and two daughters, Nora Day and Hasna Muhammad. They were the kind of couple that combined their passions for performing and activism and pursued them together. Doing what they loved together is something special and unifying. Ossie passed on in 2005 at the age of eighty-seven and Ruby Dee passed on in 2014 at the age of ninety-one.

Karl Malden and Mona Greenberg
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Karl Malden played a lot of tough guy roles like in A Streetcar Named Desire, but in real life Malden was nothing like the character of the brute, Kowalski. While in theater school in the 1930's he met a fellow theater student named Mona. After graduation in 1937, they moved separately to New York to pursue acting careers. Eventually they met up again and as Malden said, "Mona and I were two miserable people trying to find something solid," Malden recalled in his 1997 memoir, When Do I Start? "I don't remember ever really 'setting my sights' on her. We just kept gravitating to each other. If ever 'sudbina' [a Croatian word meaning fate], was on our side, it was that Mona and I should find
each other. I knew that I might never find that again. There was only one thing to do: Get married." During a break from a play called Gentle People, Malden swept Mona off her feet and married her in 1938. They were married for seventy years when Malden passed on at age ninety-seven in 2009. Mona passed on ten years later at the age of 102. They left behind two daughters, three granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren. 

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara
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Stiller and Meara are known to be one heck of a comedy duo. They even produced two fellow comedians in their son, Ben and daughter, Amy. Their love story began casually at an agent's office. Meara was upset about an interaction with the casting agent, so Stiller took her out for coffee because it was all he could afford. They remained together ever since and married in 1954. Their marriage lasted sixty-one years until Meara's passing at the age of eighty-five in 2015. "I really knew this was the man I would marry," Meara told People in 2000. "I knew he would never leave me." And he never did.

Epic Old Hollywood Love Stories was first published in Bunny's Victory and has since been edited and updated for A Vintage Nerd.

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