Many male celebrities and moguls find professional success, but they don’t always have successful relationships. With more than one marriage under many of their belts, their first wives played a big role in each of their lives. Some of these women spoke well of their ex-husbands, while others recount the moments that killed their marriages.
Here are the ladies who first stole the hearts of 18 famous, powerful men.
1. Mary Marquardt, first wife of Harrison Ford
It’s hard to believe a time existed when Harrison Ford wasn’t synonymous with Han Solo. When he wed Mary Marquardt in 1964, it was still 13 years from the first Star Wars debut. They divorced two years after the movie premiered, so his new high-profile life may have had something to do with their divorce.
It also may have had something to do with his second wife, Melissa Mathison. Apparently, the two met in 1976 (three years before his divorce from Marquardt) and wed in 1983.
A third suspect is Carrie Fisher, who wrote in her memoir, The Princes Diarist, that she and Ford had an affair while filming Star Wars IV — A New Hope. Considering Ford was married to Marquardt at the time, with children Willard and Ben, he addressed Fisher’s claim but didn’t admit to it publicly.
Next: She supported him before his breakout TV role.
2. Talia Balsam, first wife of George Clooney
Even though George Clooney was a highly sought-after bachelor for years, he took his time in finding the perfect match. Before marrying Amal Clooney in 2014, it had been over 20 years since he had a wife. He and his first wife, Talia Balsam, were together from 1989–93, divorcing a year before he landed his ER role.
In 1998, Balsam remarried to John Slattery and starred alongside him in Mad Men as his first wife, Mona. Balsam is now acts in the HBO comedy Divorce, with Sarah Jessica Parker. She confessed her own divorce from Clooney was a lot easier than the broken marriage on the show.
“If you’re trying to compare [George] to Thomas Haden Church’s character, not at all,” she said. “Absolutely, George is charming. He remains charming. I’ve worked with him.”
Next: Parenting got messy for this mogul’s wife.
3. Patricia Booker, first wife of Rupert Murdoch
When 25-year-old Rupert Murdoch married Patricia Booker in 1956, he had no idea he’d become the chairman and mogul of Fox News. The billionaire remarried for the fourth time in 2016, at 84 years old, to Jerry Hall.
Murdoch and Booker’s marriage lasted 11 years. His mother apparently didn’t approve of the department store model and airline hostess. Even though Booker gave birth to Murdoch’s first child, Prudence, Murdoch’s mother didn’t think she was good enough for her son.
Following their divorce, Booker got remarried to Freddie Maeder. The two partied too hard, and Booker neglected to care for her daughter. Reportedly, Prudence moved in with Murdoch and his second wife, Anna Torv, after begging to switch homes.
Next: This star-studded marriage was a rollercoaster ride.
4. Madonna, first wife of Sean Penn
The marriage of Sean Penn and Madonna was the first for both stars. Their marriage, from 1985–89, ended in a public, nasty divorce. Domestic abuse allegations surfaced. However, Madonna has since denied any kind of abuse. In a court document, she said, “Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up,’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless, and false.”
Penn and Madonna have reconciled, even sparking romance rumors in 2015 after being seen together on many occasions. In December 2016, Madonna hosted a charity gala, and Penn attended. She jokingly proclaimed, “I’m still in love with you” on stage, and offered to remarry him if he bid $150,000. Penn agreed and even handcuffed her to try to raise the crowd’s bids.
Next: This ex-wife released a scandalous tell-all.
5. Ivana Trump, first wife of Donald Trump
As the ex-wife of the 45th U.S. President, Ivana Trump took the opportunity to release her book, Raising Trump, in October 2017. She writes of her marriage to Donald Trump from 1977–92, as well as raising their three children, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka.
In her book, she recalls the day in 1989 she knew her marriage to the real estate mogul would end. She writes that a “young blonde woman approached me out of the blue and said ‘I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?’ I said ‘Get lost. I love my husband.’ It was unladylike but I was in shock.”
In 1993, that young blonde woman became his second wife, Marla Maples, with whom he shares his second daughter, Tiffany. Ivana claims she and her ex-husband are now on “warmer terms.”
Next: Everyone took this wife’s side after a public affair.
6. Jennifer Aniston, first wife of Brad Pitt
Young, beautiful, and successful, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will always be one of Hollywood’s most famous couples, despite their scandalous divorce. Meeting on the set of Friends in 1998, they wed in a private ceremony two years later. We’ll never forget choosing Team Jen or Team Brad in 2005, when Pitt left Aniston for his Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star, Angelina Jolie.
While Aniston found love again with her husband Justin Theroux, we always hoped Aniston and Pitt could at least be friends. Following Pitt’s split from Jolie in 2016, he finally gave us closure. He reportedly reached out to her to apologize for being an “absentee husband” and “made amends for leaving her for Angelina,” according to In Touch Weekly.
Next: A genius director’s wife couldn’t make this marriage last.
7. Amy Irving, first wife of Steven Spielberg
Despite their on-and-off relationship and eventual divorce, Amy Irving and Steven Spielberg were a Hollywood power couple. They met in 1976, when Irving received praise for her role in Carrie, and Spielberg had just directed Jaws. They married in 1984, had one child together, but divorced in 1989 — after Spielberg started dating Kate Capshaw.
Irving spoke about their divorce, saying, “I felt like a politician’s wife. There were certain things expected of me that definitely weren’t me.” Their divorce was pricey, too. Irving received $100 million — half of Spielberg’s fortune — due to a prenuptial agreement written on a napkin, which the judge invalidated.
Next: Success split up this billionaire couple.
8. Justine Musk, first wife of Elon Musk
Elon and Justine Musk’s love story was something out of a fairytale — until Elon’s fortune got in the way. Justine revealed the good parts of their relationship, but also detailed what went wrong in a piece she wrote about their marriage.
They met in college when Justine was an aspiring writer and Elon wasn’t successful yet (his net worth is now $21.1 billion). Elon took her ambitions seriously, which she appreciated. By the time they got engaged, Elon had sold his first company, Zip2, for $20 million. Justine recalls warning signs that Elon’s success dominated their relationship. For example, he told Justine, “If you were my employee, I would fire you.”
Before bringing their set of twins and triplets into the world (Griffin, Damian, Xavier, Saxon, and Kai), the two had their first child in 2002, Nevada Alexander. However, at 10 weeks old, their son passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While she claims Elon refused to talk about Nevada’s death, Justine admits it “sent [her] on a years-long inward spiral of depression and distraction.”
While living in their Bel Air home, Justine found she had become someone she never wanted to be: a blonde trophy wife whose own successes didn’t matter (despite being a published author). In 2008, she and Elon entered counseling, but later he divorced her after eight years of marriage.
Next: This wife and her actor husband did not want to separate.
9. Cassandra Harris, first wife of Pierce Brosnan
The famous GoldenEye actor tragically lost his first wife, Cassandra Harris, to ovarian cancer after 17 years of marriage. They had a son together, Sean. When Harris’s ex-husband passed away in 1986, Pierce Brosnan adopted her two adult children, Charlotte and Chris, who took his last name. In 2013, Charlotte passed away from ovarian cancer, the same disease that took her mother.
Brosnan wasn’t a widower forever. He married his second wife, Keely Shaye Smith in 2001. He and the American journalist have two children together and live in Malibu, California and Kauai, Hawaii.
Next: A near-death experience couldn’t save this marriage.
10. Kristen Tomassi, first wife of Richard Branson
You’d think surviving a near-death experience together could save a marriage, but that wasn’t the case for Richard Branson and Kristen Tomassi. Branson, billionaire and founder of The Virgin Group, decided to take his wife to Cozumel, Mexico in 1974 to fix their broken marriage. The two had only wed two years prior, but they both were having affairs.
They went deep-sea fishing in Mexico, but a severe storm struck the boat. Tomassi and Branson swam to shore, but the boat (and everyone else on it) disappeared in the storm. The two divorced in 1979, after Tomassi left Branson for singer Kevin Ayers. Branson even tried to win her back, but Tomassi had moved on.
Next: This divorce was the biggest “war” in this director’s life.
11. Marcia Lucas, first wife of George Lucas
George Lucas may be the mastermind behind Star Wars, but his first wife, Marcia, had a bigger role than you may know. After all, she did win an Oscar for the franchise’s first film, 1977’s Star Wars IV — A New Hope.
Prior to her marriage to George in 1969, Marcia was a creative and skilled editor. Once they wed, she was one of George’s go-to consultants for major Star Wars decisions. For example, it was her idea to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi, include Princess Leia’s “kiss for luck,” and complicate the shots of the trench warfare.
George and Marcia had one daughter together, Amanda, but they divorced in 1983. Their split came just after the Return of the Jedi, which Marcia edited, but George barely acknowledged her contributions.
Next: Scientology began and ended this marriage.
12. Mimi Rogers, first wife of Tom Cruise
While all of three of Tom Cruise’s divorces involved his ex-wives ditching Scientology, his first is most significant. Mimi Rogers, Cruise’s first wife from 1987–90, introduced Cruise to Scientology. Rogers has left the church, but we’ll never forget she’s the one who sparked the controversy involving Cruise’s religion.
Three years after their divorce, Rogers spoke to Playboy about Cruise, joking that he “was seriously thinking of becoming a monk … therefore it became obvious we had to split.”
Next: This ex-wife couldn’t handle the spotlight.
13. Eve Chilton, first wife of Harvey Weinstein
With the list of sexual misconduct allegations piling around Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer’s career and second marriage to Georgina Chapman have both ended.
Before Chapman, Weinstein was married to Eve Chilton. The two met in 1986 when Chilton was an assistant to Weinstein at his production company, Miramax. Weinstein apparently won her over by leaving roses on her desk, and they married in 1987.
Though they had three children together, Lily, Emma, and Ruth, Chilton became increasingly uncomfortable with the publicity surrounding Weinstein’s success. They divorced in 2004, and Chilton relocated to the suburbs of New York with her new husband, Sal Martirano.
Next: Ronald Reagan had a wife before the First Lady.
14. Jane Wyman, first wife of Ronald Reagan
It’s hard to imagine a time before Ronald and Nancy Reagan but it exists. Ronald met his first wife, Jane Wyman, on the Hollywood set of Brother Rat, where he quickly fell in love with the 21-year-old, twice-divorced actress. They married in 1940 and had a daughter. Sadly when they lost a second daughter prematurely, Wyman fell apart and they divorced months later.
Wyman once said, “Some women are just not the marrying kind.” He once said, “Perhaps I should have let someone else save the world and saved my own home.” The rest is history.
Next: This actor knows marriage is hard.
15. Diandra Luker, first wife of Michael Douglas
Ending a 23-year marriage isn’t easy, and Michael Douglas acknowledged it, telling The Mirror, “I have nothing against her and in fact I’m very fond of my first wife. But we should have ended that marriage eight or 10 years earlier.” The Oscar winner has one child with his first wife, Diandra Luker. They divorced in 2000, and Douglas married actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2008.
His second marriage has encountered obstacles, too. Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer, and Zeta-Jones has bipolar disorder. They supported Douglas’s son, Cameron (from his marriage to Luker) as he went to prison on drug charges. During their nine-year marriage, they’ve had two more children. Dylan is 17, and Carys is 14.
Next: This ex-wife still stands by her ex-husband’s character.
16. Lori Anne Allison, first wife of Johnny Depp
Another first wife to stand by her ex-husband’s side, Lori Anne Allison spoke against allegations regarding Johnny Depp abusing Amber Heard. Based on their marriage from 1983–86, Allison claimed Depp “was not capable of hurting anyone and would never lay a hand on a woman,” according to Daily Mail.
Depp and Allison married young, at ages 20 and 25, respectively. They just weren’t meant to be. However, it’s thanks to Allison that Depp found success. Nicholas Cage was a close friend of Allison’s, who got Depp in contact with the agent who cast him in his first film, 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street.
Next: An ex-wife defends her husband’s sexuality.
17. Sheree Fletcher, first wife of Will Smith
Trying to picture Will Smith without Jada Pinkett Smith is difficult. However, he was married to Sheree Zampino (now Fletcher) before Pinkett Smith. Smith and Fletcher wed in 1992 and had a son, Trey, the same year, but divorced in 1995.
Fletcher didn’t hesitate to stand by her ex-husband’s side in January 2016, when both Will and Jada Pinkett Smith were accused of secretly being gay by Alexis Arquette. Arquette insisted the reason for their divorce was that Fletcher walked in on the actor in bed with another man.
In a video, Fletcher set the record straight. She said, “My marriage ended, not over any infidelity. I didn’t find Will in bed with a man, I didn’t find him in bed with a woman. It just didn’t happen.” She did reveal what actually caused their divorce. “Our marriage ended because we were so young. We were the same age then as our son is now, and it’s just a lot of responsibility. Marriage is not easy, especially at that age.”
Next: The first (and only) wife of Elton John
18. Renate Blauel, first (and only) wife of Elton John
I'm so excited to be back in Australia for a series of shows. Many years ago, I chose Australia for my wedding to a wonderful woman for whom I have so much love and admiration. I wanted more than anything to be a good husband, but I denied who I really was, which caused my wife sadness, and caused me huge guilt and regret. To be worthy of someone's love, you have to be brave enough and clear eyed enough to be honest with yourself and your partner. Almost 24 years ago, I met the person with whom I could be fully myself. When we married in 2014, it felt like that fact was accepted by the world. For David and I, being able to openly love and commit to one another, and for that to be recognised and celebrated is what makes life truly worth living. That acceptance and support makes us want to be as kind, responsible and productive members of society, as well as the best parents, that we can be. I love Australia. I love its spirit, its lack of pretence, its passion. I hope it can embrace the honesty and courage that seeks gay marriage as an expression not of desire but of love. #loveislove #marriageequality @davidfurnish
Elton John was never vocal about the fact that he used to be married to a woman, but he recently broke his silence on Instagram. The openly gay superstar, now happily married to his husband, David Furnish, spoke about his marriage to Renate Blauel from 1984–88. While urging Australians to vote for equal marriage, he poured his heart out on Instagram, featuring a photo of his wedding with Furnish.
“Many years ago, I chose Australia for my wedding to a wonderful woman for whom I have so much love and admiration,” he wrote. “I wanted more than anything to be a good husband, but I denied who I really was, which caused my wife sadness, and caused me huge guilt and regret.”
Now, finding his life partner in Furnish, he continues, “For David and I, being able to openly love and commit to one another, and for that to be recognised and celebrated is what makes life truly worth living.”
Additional reporting by Ali Harrison.
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