There’s nothing more captivating than a Hollywood love story. That is, except maybe a Hollywood heartbreak… These stars were swept off their feet for a time but unfortunately, found trouble around the corner.
1. Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli
Garland and Minnelli’s first project was Meet Me in St. Louis, a film that she didn’t want to do. But the director’s desire to showcase her grown-up beauty changed her mind about the project and won her over. The pair began their love affair on the set and were married in 1945. During their relationship, the pair worked on numerous projects, including Ziegfeld Follies and The Clock, Garland’s first dramatic feature which she convinced Vincente to direct. However, troubles arose while working on The Pirate, and the movie’s commercial failure only accented these issues. While they were meant to work together in Easter Parade, Judy requested that he be taken off of the project, and MGM concurred. As Garland’s personal life took a turn for the worse, their marriage continued to suffer as well. Judy filed for divorce stating, “I was terribly lonely… He lacked interest in me, my career, my friends, everything.” Despite the end of their relationship, they remained cordial. Their only daughter from their union, Liza Minnelli, would work with both of her parents, carrying the showbusiness torch after both parents passed.
2. Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
After a performance of Young Woodley, Crawford went backstage to congratulate Fairbanks. The pair had met before at a Hollywood party, but neither had been interested in each other (in fact, quite the opposite). But her congratulations led to dinner which led to a courtship. However, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and stepmother Mary Pickford, movie moguls who co-founded United Artists Pictures, were opposed to the relationship. Opposition didn’t stop the lovers though, and they wed in 1929. However, their busy schedules – especially Joan’s budding career – kept them apart. And then Crawford met Clark Gable while making 1931’s Possessed. While the affair was kept from Fairbanks (who was also having indiscretions on the side), MGM’s Louis B. Mayer knew and attempted to divert divorce for the married couple by gifting a second honeymoon in England. Unfortunately, the trip only solidified what Crawford already knew: the marriage was over. With support from Fairbanks Sr. (who was reportedly jealous of his son’s career and looks), Joan prepared to break the news of a divorce to her husband via a fan magazine. Gossip columnist Louella Parson, however, got the story first. The pair divorced in 1934.
3. Bette Davis and Gary Merrill
Davis and Merrill can thank All About Eve for their romance. Playing lovers in the classic transferred behind-the-scenes, and despite both being married, they became secret lovers. The pair split from their spouses and wed in 1950. Shortly after, they completed two more films together, Another Man’s Poison and Phone Call from a Stranger. However, according to Davis’ daughter, Merrill’s abusive behavior and their poor financial circumstances led to issues. The relationship ended in divorce in 1960 with Gary failing to even appear at the court proceeding. She later remarked, “Gary was a macho man, but none of my husbands was ever man enough to become Mr. Bette Davis.”
4. Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen
The success of Love Story helped model-turned-actress MacGraw. Her husband, producer Robert Evans, campaigned for her to star alongside McQueen in The Getaway, and she instantly began to feel the pull toward this macho personality. She recalled, “It happened when I met him. It was like a thunderbolt… It was the strongest electric connection I’ve ever experienced in my life.” With her marriage already on the rocks, Ali divorced Robert, and soon she and Steve were married in 1973. But when the initial excitement wore off, they discovered that there wasn’t much common ground. McQueen was reclusive, and MacGraw put her career on hold to be a wife. News of Steve’s infidelity caused further damage which could not be repaired. When Ali decided to resume her acting career, he threatened divorce if she accepted a role in Convoy since he had given up Sorcerer to be close to her. She did not surrender the role however, and they were divorced in 1977.