People Staff
July 29, 1991 12:00 PM

What do you get when you fall in love?

A guy with a pin to burst your bubble.

NO PIN-WIELDING GUY IS A SUSPECT, but the bubble has clearly burst for the song’s composer, Burt Bacharach, and his wife and collaborator, Carole Bayer Sager.

Married in 1982. the two had long seemed the perfect professional match, sharing a 1981 Academy Award for “Arthur’s Theme” and a 1987 Grammy for “That’s What Friends Are For” and racking up a collection of pop hits, including “On My Own, Heartlight” and “Love Power.” But last week the apparent harmony vanished for good when Sager, 45, filed for divorce from Bacharach, 63, citing irreconcilable differences. “Our marriage produced a great son [adopted 5-year-old Cristopher Elton] and some good songs,” said Sager in a prepared statement.

Sager and Bacharach met in 1978 after he asked her to put some lyrics to music he had written. (He’d split from longtime collaborator Hal David several years earlier.) The next year, he invited her to appear with him on a TV talk show and, despite some misgivings, took her to dinner afterward. “I’ve always thought you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure,” he later joked. “Falling in love with Carole was the last thing in the world I wanted to do.”

Sager, too, should have known the pitfalls of falling for the piano player. She had just ended a two-year romance with fellow composer Marvin (A Chorus Line) Hamlisch, and their sometimes tumultuous affair had inspired the Neil Simon Broadway hit They’re Playing Our Song.

Still, when Bacharach’s divorce from actress Angie Dickinson became final in 1981 (after 16 years of marriage and five of separation), he and Sager were wed in a small, private ceremony at a friend’s California home. Even more private, as it turns out, was the breakup. Keeping their problems a secret from even their closest friends, the two separated last December, with Bacharach moving out of their Bel Air mansion and taking up residence nearby at the Westwood Marquis Hotel. For the onetime partners in song, that move is where the music stopped.

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