More Hollywood Heartbreak

From head-over-heels to heartbroken, look back at more of Hollywood’s heartbreaks.

1. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

Monroe and DiMaggio went on their first date in 1952, and he was smitten. The retired baseball player showered her with gifts. She recalled, “He treated me like something special. Joe is a very decent man, and he makes other people feel decent too.” However, trouble rose from Joe’s distaste for Hollywood, and he refused to join her for functions. Still, when rumors circulated that Marilyn and Robert Mitchum were getting friendly on the set of River of No Return, DiMaggio raced to see if they were true and remained until the film ended. The pair were very much in love and married in 1954. Nevertheless, Joe disliked his wife’s professional, especially since he was looking for a more traditional marriage. In fact, 20th Century Fox wouldn’t allow him to visit the set of There’s No Business Like Showbusiness after he caused issues over his wife’s sexy costumes. His reaction to her famous subway scene in The Seven Year Itch (filmed in front of a crowd that had gathered on the street) was even worse, and he reportedly physically abused her. Monroe pursued divorce after the incident, despite DiMaggio’s attempts at reconciliation. She was tired of being controlled.

2. Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor

Stanwyck met “the man with the perfect face” (aka Taylor) at Zeppo Marx’s party. He would say of her, “I wish I were one-tenth the person she is… she is so grateful for everything life has given her.” The pair grew close quickly, and the studios quickly paired them together in His Brother’s Wife and This Is My Affair to take advantage of the relationship. Thanks to unwanted publicity by Photoplay, the couple felt pressured to wed, which they did in 1939. By all appearances, they seemed happy with flourishing careers, and they even cemented their handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on the same day in 1941. But Barbara became worried about rumors of his infidelity (especially has he worked with attractive co-stars like Lana Turner) and other attractive co-stars and Robert was growing tired of having an overbearing spouse (especially as he had been dealing with an very overbearing mother who disapproved of the marriage). They continued to drift, thanks in part to Stanwyck’s skyrocketing career and World War II, which took Robert away from home to be a Naval officer and flying instructor. They divorced in 1951.

3. Zsa Zsa Gabor and George Sanders

Gabor’s nine marriages each ended in divorce. The witty actress said, “I am a wonderful housekeeper. After every divorce, I keep the house.” Zsa Zsa met Sanders at a cocktail party, and there was an instant attraction. He even gave her the pet name “Cookie.” Less than two years later, they were wed in 1949. However, his busy film schedule kept them apart. Meanwhile, she found success thanks to her brother-in-law when she filled in on Bachelor’s Haven. She charmed audiences with her wit and jewelry, and her career took off from there with modeling and acting jobs following. Apparently, however, her newfound celebrity wasn’t a welcome addition in George’s mind. As the pair grew apart, they found themselves in the arms of others. They divorced in 1954.

4. Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan

Wyman was interested in Reagan first and asked Warner Brothers to set up a date. However, the studio felt that she was deserving of a bigger name star. Her invitation for a drink was denied by Reagan since she was married, though separated, at the time. However, while making Brother Rat and its sequel, the pair grew closer, especially as Jane pursued Ronald purposefully. She even learned to ice skate to impress him. They eventually married in 1940. As her career took off thanks to The Lost Weekend and The Yearling, Reagan was doing his part for the war effort in the First Motion Picture Unit, since his nearsightedness meant he was ineligible for combat. The loss of their newborn daughter and his almost fatal case of pneumonia put a great strain on their marriage. Jane focused on her career and eventually moved to New York alone. While attempts were made to reconcile, they eventually divorced in 1949. After his death in 2001, Wyman said, “America has lost a great president and a great, kind, and gentle man.”