Who is George Clooney’s First Wife?

Originally considered an eternal bachelor (even by his own admission), superstar George Clooney married international law specialist and human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in 2014. Clooney recently told Esquire, “I’ve never been happier in a relationship by any stretch of the imagination… I found the love of my life and I’m really happy.” Now parents to 2-year-old twins Ella and Alexander, the couple is the picture of wedded bliss.

George Clooney | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

With Clooney’s marriage to Alamuddin in the spotlight for so many years, few realize that this is the second marriage for the former ER star. So who was Clooney’s first wife?

She is the daughter of an Academy Award-winning actor

Clooney met Talia Balsam in 1984 while the two were working on a local play, according to Vanity Fair. Balsam is the daughter of Joyce Van Patten and acclaimed actor Martin Balsam, who had roles in iconic films including Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in A Thousand Clowns in 1965, as reported by IMDb.

‘Divorce’ in real life and on screen

Clooney and Balsam married in 1989 and divorced in 1992, according to People. The split may have been sort of a preview for her professional life, where in 2016 she took on the role of Dallas, the divorced psychologist friend to Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on HBO’s series Divorce, as reported by Town & Country.

Talia Balsam | Jim Spellman/WireImage

“At this point, everyone in our culture has been affected by some aspect of divorce… The show is about how you navigate a family falling apart. It’s a universal theme, right? That’s what the appeal is,” Balsam said in the interview.

Balsam is now married to Mad Men actor John Slattery whom she wed in 1998, and also appeared on the hit show playing his onscreen wife.  “I’m married, very happily married, now,” Balsam told People. “I would say divorce, breaking up, being a child of divorce, any of those things are always very challenging. And I think that’s what makes this sort of a universal thing.”

In an interview with Redbook in 2009, Slattery talked about having his off-screen wife playing his onscreen spouse. “We enjoy working together very much,” he said. “It’s not like I have to invent the history with Talia or Mona, her Mad Men character, because I know her so well. There was a scene in the first season when she enters the room after Roger (Slattery’s character) has had a heart attack, and just seeing her face, given the circumstance, it really made the scene a lot more loaded.”

Clooney takes responsibility for the breakup

In the Vanity Fair interview, Clooney looked back on the breakup of his marriage, commenting, “It was a very tough time, and in the middle of it all I had a bleeding ulcer and I was really sick.” Clooney’s physical ailments added to the situation, where he put on 20 pounds and was generally unhappy, according to the article.

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““I probably—definitely—wasn’t someone who should have been married at that point,” Clooney told Vanity Fair. “I just don’t feel like I gave Talia a fair shot. I was responsible for the failure of that marriage.”

Balsam doesn’t seem to be holding any grudges, telling People in 2016, “George is charming. He remains charming.”