Why Did Christopher Plummer Divorce His First Wife, Tammy Grimes?

Actor Christopher Plummer died in February 2021. He is survived by his wife, Elaine Taylor, to whom he was married for more than 50 years. But Plummer was married before that, most notably to actor Tammy Grimes. Learn what led to Plummer and Grimes’ divorce, as well as his relationship with his other surviving relative.

Christopher Plummer met Tammy Grimes while working in theater

composite image of Christopher Plummer and Tammy Grimes
L: Christopher Plummer | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images, R: Tammy Grimes | David Mcgough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Plummer was a rising star in the 1950s. He starred in a handful of Broadway productions during this time, including The Lark and J.B., the latter of which earned him his first Tony Award nomination. It was during this time that he met Tammy Grimes, herself an up-and-comer on the stage.

How did Plummer and Grimes meet? According to Grimes herself, their introduction occurred in the presence of another renowned star. She and Marlon Brando saw Plummer in the Broadway production of The Dark Is Light Enough. According to the Christian Science Monitor, she described her future husband as “a thin, keen sword edge that catches the light.”

Plummer and Grimes married in 1956 and divorced in 1960

Tammy Grimes and Amanda Plummer
(L-R): Tammy Grimes and Amanda Plummer | Bettmann / Contributor

Grimes and Plummer began a relationship. They married in 1956, months before their daughter, Amanda Plummer, was born. Grimes reportedly ended their marriage quite abruptly, sending his clothes to a hotel and passing along the message that it was over via his stage manager.

Plummer reflected on this time in his memoir In Spite of Myself. “We were two fans observing and admiring each other at 40 paces – hardly the stuff to secure a union; we were having too much fun enjoying our separate ascendancies – much too immature to take on the twin responsibilities of marriage and raising a child,” he wrote (via The New York Times.)

What was Plummer’s relationship like with his daughter, Amanda?

Christopher Plummer and child Amanda Plummer
Christopher Plummer and Amanda Plummer | Lucy Nicholson/AFP via Getty Images

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While both Grimes and Plummer went on to each marry twice more, neither had another child. Plummer didn’t maintain a relationship with her. He wrote that he only saw her once over 21 years before reconnecting in 1981 when she was an adult.

Grimes explained that she brought Amanda up in “a kind of formal, traditional manner.” “My daughter was brought up in a very disciplined household because I was an actress, and to be a good actress you have to be very disciplined,” she explained to CSM.

“I thought that because I wasn’t going to be there so much of the time that she had to have a very strong structure and routine which would make her feel secure,” Grimes elaborated. “Up until the time she went away to college [Middlebury, in Vermont], she had led a very sheltered life.”

Grimes and her daughter maintained a close relationship throughout her life. Grimes died in 2016 from natural causes. As for Plummer, he and Amanda stayed in touch, though he referred to her as “more of a friend” in his memoir. Amanda attended some of her father’s movie premieres and theatrical productions.