Johnny Carsons, via Henry Bushkin, Johnny Carson
“Half the marriages end in divorce—and then there are the unhappy ones.”
Johnny Carsons, via Henry Bushkin, Johnny Carson
Image Credit: Nothing Sacred
“Find a priest who understands English and doesn’t look like Rasputin.”
Aristotle Onassis, The $20,000,000 Honeymoon
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
“When I am married, I want to be single, and when I am single I want to be married.”
Cary Grant, via Sheilah Graham, Confessions of a Hollywood Gossip Columnist
“I don’t think women should be allowed to marry before they reach 25, men at 30. I really believe this. At that point the mind and lifestyle and sexuality should have developed to a degree that establishes their compatibility.”
Joan Crawford, Conversations with Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford's negative opinion of early marriage was garnered from the school of hard knocks. When she was in her mid-twenties, she wed the nineteen-year-old, dazzlingly handsome Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The son of screen idol Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and stepson of America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford, he was the original crown prince of Hollywood. Neither Doug Sr. nor Mary was pleased with the match, and Crawford felt unwelcome at Pickfair, Doug and Mary's (then) world-famous estate in Beverly Hills.
The marriage would not have lasted even absent the haughty in-laws, but that certainly did not help. In any case, a friendship did survive. In later years, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Joan Crawford spoke well of each other.
Image Credit: The Fairbanks Album
“The crowd outside the church screamed … ‘Andy!’ There was the biggest mob I’ve ever seen around a church. We went in and they had folding chairs near the door. Oprah Winfrey gave a speech. … And at the car rental we’d seen all these glamorous names like ‘Clint Eastwood’ and ‘Barbara Walters’ .... And watching this storybook wedding, you just wonder about what it’ll be like when the divorce comes.”
Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries, April 26, 1986, Hyannis, Massachusetts, Wedding of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver was the second generation of the Kennedy family to marry a professional actor. Her aunt Patricia Kennedy famously wed Peter Lawford (he was JFK's link to Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack). Her daughter Katherine became the third such generation earlier this summer when she wed Chris Pratt.
The Schwarzenegger/Shriver marriage produced four children and proved more enduring than Andy Warhol himself. He died within a year. Three decades later, Arnold and Maria have separated but remain legally married. How fascinated Warhol would have been by the tabloid scandal that prompted their separation. For that matter, Andy Warhol would love so much about 21st Century popular culture. His prediction that in the future everyone would be famous (infamous?) for fifteen minutes has come to pass.
Image Credit: Andy Warhol's Exposures
“How many husbands have I had? You mean apart from my own?”
Zsa Zsa Gabor, One Lifetime Is Not Enough
Image Credit: Oscar Night, From the Editors of Vanity Fair
“The fact is women must choose in life what sort of a man it is that they do want—whether what is called a good husband, faithful to his wife but seldom seeing her, going off to the club and so on for relaxation, or one that really loves women, loves his wife, probably, best and longest, but who also and inevitably feels the need for other relationships with other women.”
Nancy Mitford, The Blessing
Image Credit: The Mitfords, Letters Between Six Sisters
“Last week the mother of my children and I decided to have an amicable divorce. The breakthrough came early in the week, when my own attorneys informed me that adultery applies to men also.”
Taki, High Life
Image Credit: Taki, Set of 3
“You fall in love with someone, and part of what you love about him are the differences between you; and then you get married and the differences start to drive you crazy.”
Nora Ephron, Heartburn
When she published Heartburn, Nora Ephron upended the old adage that the best revenge is living well. That is too subtle. Worse, it does not generate publishing royalties or motion picture-licensing fees. Consider Ephron’s casus belli against Carl Bernstein—the famed Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate story that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. Bernstein swept Ephron off her feet and convinced her to leave her beloved New York for the then-cultural backwater of Washington, D.C. They married and had one son. She was seven months pregnant with a second son when he left her for the woman with whom he had been carrying on a torrid affair.
Ephron returned to New York and eventually remarried. In 1983, she published Heartburn, a barely disguised account of the breakup of her marriage. There are many fascinating aspects to the novel. It is an accidental time capsule of an era when Manhattan was the only acceptable American city for a foodie like Ephron. It also portrays the trivial side of the revered journalist that broke the Watergate story. Yet, in retrospect, what is most fascinating is Ephron divulged her ex-husband’s greatest secret, but in an oblique manner that made no sense until 2005, over twenty years after Heartburn went to press.
Even though Heartburn was clearly the story of her own marriage, it was ostensibly a novel, and thus, the names were fictionalized. Ephron called the Carl Bernstein character Mark Feldman. In 1983, that meant nothing to the reading public. Yet, it was a poison arrow to her ex-husband. Ephron was evidently privy to one of the great mysteries of the 20th Century: the identity of Deep Throat, the confidential source that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon. As Vanity Fair revealed in 2005, Deep Throat was Mark Felt, a Nixon administration insider. For Bernstein, his name was worryingly close to Mark Feldman, the name Ephron conjured up for the Bernstein character in Heartburn.
Ephron’s arrow seems to have snagged its intended target. When Heartburn was adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, the name of the Mark Feldman character had been changed to Mark Forman. Might Bernstein had something to do with this? Most likely, yes. According to the New Yorker, “it took more than five years for Ephron and Bernstein to negotiate the terms of their divorce, and for about half the time the central issue was Bernstein’s demand for script approval” for the film adaptation of Heartburn.
Heartburn (the novel) received mix-reviews when it was released. Some questioned the wisdom of airing one’s dirty laundry in public, particularly with children involved. Yet, the book has aged well. Ephron’s sparkling wit and chatty, conversational style resonate well in the 21st Century. And, despite its ostensibly serious subject matter, the book is hilarious. Nick Harvill Libraries recommends the audio edition. Meryl Streep, who played Ephron in Heartburn (the film), narrates, and her comic timing is flawless.
Further Reading: "Jacob Bernstein on Memorializing His Mom, Nora Ephron, in Everything Is Copy," Vogue, March 2016 and The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward.
“I played Jimmy Stewart's wife so often that Dick Powell once rose at a banquet and introduced him as 'My wife's husband.'”
June Allyson [Mrs. Dick Powell], Jimmy Stewart, A Biography