Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Betty Persky and Mr. Methot

TCM is showing To Have and Have Not tonight at 8:00 PM ET. The movie stars Lauren Bacall, née Betty Persky; and Humphrey Bogart, who was at the time, nearing the end of his third marriage, to actress Mayo Methot. Bogart and Bacall fell in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why is the love story between Bogart and Bacall the iconic Hollywood love story? To be honest, I don't know. Bogart was technically cheating on his then-wife during the filming of the movie, although to be fair, the marriage was a mess. Mayo Methot was a raging alcoholic, and by all accounts a mean drunk, with one story having her allegedly pulling a gun on dinner guests. You can't fault anybody for wanting to get out of a marriage like that.

I was going to posit Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward as one of the more romantic love stories in Hollywood history. They were married for just over 50 years, having celebrated that golden anniversary this past January. What I didn't know, though, is that it wasn't Paul Newman's first marriage; in fact, he had to wait for his first marriage to be officially dissolved before he could marry Woodward -- and married her the day after that happened, according to IMDb.

Even the Woodward/Newman marriage isn't Hollywood's longest, and not by a long shot. (It's not even Hollywood's longest second marriage; Ronald Reagan's second marriage, to Nancy Davis, lasted just over 52 years.) As for those who made it to their diamond anniversary, there's Eddie Bracken (63 years until his wife's death), Charlton Heston (64 years until his death), and Bob Hope (69 years until his death). Assuming neither dies, Karl Malden and his wife will be celebrating their 70th anniversary in a month's time. But even that isn't Hollywood's longest marriage. Norman Lloyd and his wife have been married for 72 years.

At least some people in Hollywood seem to be able to find their true love.

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