Real-life Romances

Real-Life Romances

Rose MacDowell

Is romance real, or just the stuff of movies and overactive imaginations? If you think romance is dead, read on. These heart-tugging, tear-jerking real-life romances may just change your mind — and inspire you to find a romance of your own. 

1. Johnny Cash and June Carter

Sparks flew when Johnny Cash and June Carter met backstage at the Grand Ole' Opry in 1956. The daughter of influential musicians Maybelle and Ezra Carter, June was certified country royalty and a star in her own right. Johnny was already a legend. Despite their undeniable chemistry, Johnny and June were married to other people and couldn't be together. Both stars eventually divorced their spouses, and were married 12 years after their first meeting.

Johnny credited June for standing by him as he struggled to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. They had a son, toured and recorded together throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and died four months apart in 2003. This love story for the ages has been the subject of multiple films, including 2005's Walk The Line with Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix. 

2. Amal and George Clooney

Confirmed bachelor and heart throb George Clooney was a favorite of tabloids for his decades-long string of high-profile romances. From models to starlets, Clooney seemed to skip to But in 2013, in a meeting straight from a Hollywood script, Clooney was introduced to Amal Alamuddin through a mutual friend and just like that his single days were officially behind him. 

Amal Alamuddin is a British-Lebanese lawyer who graduated from Oxford and NYU School of Law. Drawn by Amal's intelligence and passion for human rights, Clooney proposed in 2014. He and Amal are now the parents of fraternal twins, and the tabloids have had to move on to other high-profile players. 

3. David Bowie and Iman

Supermodel Iman met musician David Bowie in 1990 when he was 43 and she was 35. Both had a history of multiple marriages and children with other people. He claimed it was love at first sight that drew him to Iman, while she said she was struck by love a few months later. Brought together by a deep understanding and love of privacy, David and Iman married in 1992 and had a daughter, Alexandria in 2000.

Since David Bowie's death from cancer in 2016, Iman has said that she still feels married and will not remarry. Using elements of the fragrance her husband wore when they met, she has created a perfume in his memory called Love Memoir.

4. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

The only thing more famous than Gertrude Stein's writing is her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. The pair lived together in Paris for nearly 30 years. Stein and Toklas hosted many famous artists and writers in their Paris salon, including Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Henri Matisse.

Their passionate relationship inspired Stein's book "Tender Buttons," and Toklas's cookbook, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, which was published 8 years after Stein's death in Paris in 1946. Though Stein left Toklas most of her estate including valuable Picasso paintings, the couple had no legal bond and the artwork was claimed by Stein's family.

Toklas died in poverty in Paris in 1967, and is buried beside Gertrude Stein in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  

5. John Lennon and Yoko Ono

John Lennon and Yoko Ono met in 1966 at a London art gallery where Yoko had exhibition of her experimental artwork. Legend has it that they bonded over one of her pieces of art, a ladder that led to a written word so small it had to be read with a magnifying glass (the word was "yes"). They were married one year before the breakup of the Beatles until 1980, leading to controversy over whether their relationship led to the end of the band.

John and Yoko's son Sea was born in 1975, and for five years John gave up music and stayed home to care for him. Shortly after his album Double Fantasy was released in 1980, John was shot and killed outside of his New York apartment building.

After Lennon's murder, Yoko Ono became an activist for peace and world awareness, and founded the charity organization Artists Against Apartheid. She has also helped keep John's memory alive by establishing museums, retrospectives, and a part of Central Park called Strawberry Fields.  

6. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

Mexican painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo met in 1928 when she was a 21 year-old art student and he was 41. Though he had two common-law wives at the time, they fell madly in love and wed the following year. Diego was already an established and successful painter, and soon Friday displayed an artistic talent that many believe surpassed that of her husband. 

The marriage between Diego and Frida was filled with passion, creativity, and infidelities on both sides. Frida had been injured in a bus accident when she was a teenager, and her frequent illnesses kept her confined to bed or in the hospital for a portion of their marriage. Difficult as their relationship was, they weren't able to stay apart for long. They divorced in the late 1930s, only to marry again a year later. 

By all accounts, their tumultuous relationship was more peaceful after their remarriage, though they both continued to have affairs. Frida died in 1954 at the age of 47 from complications of the injuries she suffered as a teenager, and Diego followed 4 years later. 

7. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were acclaimed Black actors who first met in 1937 while working together on a play in Chicago. Their romance blossomed into a lifelong partnership, and they remained together for 57 years until Ossie's death in 2005.

In addition to being a renowned actress, writer, director, producer, and civil rights activist, Ruby Dee was also a well known jazz singer who performed alongside Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong. Both Ruby and Ossie were civil rights activists who were close friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. Ossie Davis acted in dozens of movies and television shows, and portrayed the father of Jennifer Beal's character on The L Word. 

Both Ossie and Ruby received the National Medal of Arts and Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of their achievements in acting, civil rights, and the arts.