Oh, Hollywood, the land of beautiful people who sure know how to make scandalous headlines. In this case, old Hollywood and the celebrity love triangles that seemed to be just as famous and front page news-worthy as Elizabeth Taylor’s performance in Cleopatra. Alas, commitment in Hollywood is a fickle thing for some old-time A-list stars.
From the Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor debacle to Spencer Tracy having an affair with Katherine Hepburn while still being married to Louise Treadwell, these celebrity love triangles bring a whole new meaning to the term drama. And, boy, are they gossip-worthy!
Frank Sinatra, Nancy Barbato, And Ava Gardner
Singer and actor Frank Sinatra met his first wife, Nancy, when he was only 19. They were married, had three kids, and everything was perfect. Until reports came out Sinatra was having an affair and a bit of a love triangle popped up in his life.
The thing is if you’re going to get into a love triangle you don’t want highly publicized, try doing it with someone a little less high-profile than Ava Gardner, one of the most famous actresses of the time. But they were in love, and two days after Sinatra’s divorce from Nancy was finalized, he tied the “this-isn’t-going-to-last-but-I-love-you-right-now” knot with Gardner.
Pablo Picasso, Olga Khokhlova, And Marie-Thérèse Walter
Artist Pablo Picasso was all about finding his muse for his next great masterpiece. At one point in time, it was his wife, Olga Khokhlova. The thing is, while married to her, the artist got into an extravagantly expensive affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter.
It was an expensive little love triangle because Picasso set Walter up in apartments in each city he was in, making sure she was never far away. Well, something went right because the two were together for 13 years. Their love lasted until Picasso found a new muse and did the whole love triangle affair thing all over again.
Spencer Tracy, Louise Treadwell, And Katharine Hepburn
The issue with the Spencer Tracy, Louise Treadwell, and Katharine Hepburn love triangle is that Tracy 100% met Hepburn at the wrong point in his life. The two actors met while filming the rom-com Woman of the Year. The attraction was pretty much immediate. Unfortunately, Tracy was already married to Louise Treadwell.
Not believing in the concept of divorce, Tracy did the next best thing, moved out and started a relationship with Hepburn. Well, “best thing” is definitely relative. Even so, the affair wasn’t as messy as others. And Tracy and Hepburn were obviously written in the stars or something because they stayed together until Tracy’s passing in 1967.
Johnny Cash, Vivian Liberto, And June Carter
While Johnny Cash and June Carter’s romance is pretty much something out of a romance novel, it doesn’t stray from the fact that it started with them in a bit of a dramatic love triangle. When the two met, Cash was already married to Vivian Liberto. They even had four kids together!
But once he met Carter on the road during one of his tours, it was all over for the country singer. He divorced Liberto in 1966 to be with Carter. Two years later, Cash proposed during a performance in London, Ontario. They stayed together until their passing in 2003.
Aron Lindström, Ingrid Bergman, And Roberto Rossellini
Nothing says drama quite like the love triangle affair between Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. The actress met the director while on the set of the 1950 film Stromboli. The affair happened quickly, and tabloids jumped at the opportunity to capitalize on it since both parties were married with children, Bergman to neurologist Aron Lindström and Rossellini to Marcella De Marchis.
Even more scandalous was that the Bergman’s good-girl persona was dashed when it came out she was pregnant with Rossellini’s son. Gasp. The two wound up married and divorced within seven years because Rossellini had another affair.
Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, And Elizabeth Taylor
In the case of “best friends become arch enemies because the maid of honor began a relationship with the other’s husband,” comes the highly-publicized love triangle of Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor. Let’s just say Reynolds and Taylor were friends, so much so that Taylor and her then-husband Mike Todd were the maid of honor and best man at Fisher and Reynolds’ wedding.
Unfortunately, after Todd’s untimely passing, Taylor went to Fisher for comfort. That comfort led to an all-out affair, messy divorce, and more than one friendship getting thrown to the wind. Talk about some head-line drama!
Anthony Perkins, Berry Berenson, And Tab Hunter
Even though he was married to Berry Berenson for years and had two kids with her, Anthony Perkins had an entirely secret life that his wife didn’t even know about. In a dramatic plot twist of events, Perkins secretly played for the other team and had a relationship with Tab Hunter for years, starting before Perkins and Berenson said, “I do.”
But the two never got married, regardless of how long they stayed together. Eventually, their romance naturally fizzled out. Throughout their romance, Perkins stayed “exclusively” married to Berenson, staying with her until his passing in 1992.
Lilyan Tashman, Edmund Lowe, And Greta Garbo
Actress Lilyan Tashman was known for playing the ” vindictive other women” in a lot of her performances. Call it a prophecy or foreshadowing her life, but she married Edmund Lowe only to have a lavish affair with Greta Garbo. The love triangle was a bit perplexing, though, since her husband didn’t exactly mind that she was off seeing another woman.
In fact, both Lowe and Tashman had “other interests” since same-gender marriage wasn’t an acceptable lifestyle choice at the time. Either way, the long-time friends stuck by one another in their open-but-we’re-pretending-it’s-closed-to-the-public marriage.
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, And Nickolas Muray
The thing with artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is that even though they both agreed to have an open marriage, they hated when the other was involved with someone else. Does anyone else see the issue here? Regardless, the love triangle between Kahlo, Rivera, and photographer Nickolas Muray was a particular instance that really got under Rivera’s skin.
Shortly after marrying Rivera, Kahlo started a long decade-long love affair with Muray. The poor guy hung around, believing the painter would leave her husband. She never did. So, after finally coming to terms with being “the other guy,” Muray left Kahlo
Marlene Dietrich, Rudolph Sieber, And Mercedes De Acosta
Silent film star Marlene Dietrich was married to her husband, film producer Rudolph Sieber, for a whopping 53 years. During that time, though, she was in the midst of a bit of a love triangle, one between her husband and female writer Mercedes de Acosta.
Sieber knew about the affair, and yet he didn’t leave his wife. It seemed as though the two of them had some sort of an understanding when it came to Dietrich’s extra-curricular love stories. Even so, Dietrich and de Acosta had quite a long love story, even if it didn’t end with them living happily ever after.
Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, And Richard Burton
When it comes to Elizabeth Taylor, smooth-sailing is the last thing people would say about her love life. After one love triangle between herself, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds, she hopped right back into another! This time, it was between Fisher and actor Richard Burton.
Needless to say, the tabloids loved the juicy love triangle gossip, making it a must-read headline. In the end, Taylor and Burton had anything but an easy relationship, getting married and divorced more than once. Even so, Taylor always said that Burton was the absolute love of her life no matter what happened between them.
Clark Gable, Maria Franklin, And Loretta Young
Actor Clark Gable met fellow actor Loretta Young while on the set of the 1935 film The Call of the Wild. Their on-set romance resulted in Young getting pregnant, a huge scandal since Gable was already married to Texas socialite Maria Franklin.
After a hugely wild and elaborate plot to keep the pregnancy and baby under wraps, the end of the tale isn’t really anything to write home about. The love triangle didn’t last long, with Gable divorcing from Franklin in 1939 and marrying someone completely different from Young the very same year.
Judy Garland, Vincente Minnelli, And Sidney Luft
Actress Judy Garland married Vincente Minnelli in 1945. A few years later, she met businessman Sidney Luft who told the actress that he could help her in her career. Insert their secret love affair here and you can guess the rest.
The little love triangle Garland had with Minnelli and Luft came to a screeching halt in 1951. That year, both Garland and Luft divorced their respective partners in order to have a future with one another. It would have been swoon-worthy if they didn’t wind up divorced in 1965.
Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, And Betsy Drake
Actress Sophia Loren and Cary Grant fell in love on the set of the film The Pride and the Passion. Unfortunately for the two love birds, Grant was already married to actress and screenwriter Betsy Drake.
Drake wrote the original script for Houseboat, making herself as well as her then-husband Grant the two leads. Grant was in love with Loren, so he re-wrote the script, kicked his wife out of the production, and made the Italian actress the lead. Yikes, talk about messy. Eventually, Loren would split her time between Grant and Carlo Ponti, of whom she went on to marry.
Mayo Methot, Humphrey Bogart, And Lauren Bacall
When Humphrey Bogart met a then-19-year-old Lauren Bacall on the set of To Have and To Have Not, he was married to actress Mayo Methot, his third wife. But the two fell deeply in love, starting an affair that caused more than a little hardship to Bogart’s marriage.
Eventually, Bogart divorced Methot in favor of a future with the woman who started their love triangle, Bacall. The two said “I do” not long after the film that got them together premiered. They stayed happily married until Bogart’s passing in 1957.
Sidney Poitier, Monte Kay, And Diahann Carroll
The love triangle of Monte Kay, Sidney Poitier, and Diahann Carroll is a messy one. Actors Poitier and Carroll met while working on the stage production of Porgy & Bess. And while they romantically hit it off, both parties were very much married. Poitier suggested they leave their respective spouses and move in with one another.
While Carroll was all for a future with Poitier, he nodded out of the arrangement at the very last second! He even went as far as changing the locks on the house and telling Carroll that he didn’t want to see her anymore.
Paul Newman, Jackie Witte, And Joanne Woodward
Paul Newman’s love triangle with Jackie Witte and Joanne Woodward started in 1953 when he was working on the play Picnic with the latter. While Witte was his wife, nothing could stop the way he felt for the young Broadway actress. Then came 1957 and the film The Long, Hot Summer.
The film pretty much solidified Newman’s attraction and love for Woodward. He divorced Witte a year later, in 1958, marrying Woodward the very same year. The two actors were happily married for 50 years, up until Newman’s passing in 2008.
Bette Davis, Arthur Farnsworth, And William Wyler
Between the takes of the 1940 film The Letter and the 1941 film The Little Foxe, actress Bette Davis, and director William Wyler had a bit of a love affair. Of course, nothing is ever as easy as two people falling in love for the sake of falling in love.
During the time, Davis was married to Arthur Farnsworth, the third party in her love triangle. Interestingly, Davis didn’t consider her husband the love of her life, but Wyler! Too bad for her, Wyler didn’t feel the same way.
William Holden, Brenda Marshall, And Audrey Hepburn
At the time, the love triangle between William Holden, Brenda Marshall, and Audrey Hepburn was one of the most talked-about scandals in Hollywood. Meeting on the set of Sabrina, Hepburn and Holden fell for one another, fast, not really caring who knew about their love, including his then-wife Brenda.
According to multiple sources and interviews, Holden was all too willing to leave his family for Hepburn. She was the love of his life. Things didn’t go as planned, though. Hepburn wanted children and Holden didn’t, so Hepburn decided to end their arrangement.
Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, And Rebecca Broussard
Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston might have had an on-again-off-again relationship that gave more than one reporter whiplash. Still, nothing could have prepared them for the love triangle between them and actress Rebecca Broussard. While Nicholson wasn’t the best partner in the world, his affair with the “other woman” was it for Huston.
Well, “it,” as in the drama-filled triangle, went on for a little while, with the downfall being Broussard’s pregnancy in 1989. That was the last straw for Huston, who packed her backs and never looked back.