Making his way through the swarm of reporters and photographers at the Los Angeles premiere of his film Bulworth last month, Warren Beatty was answering questions about race and politics when a sidelong smile from Annette Bening, his wife of six years, stopped him in mid-sentence. “You know, I take a long time to finally do something,” he said, as if revelation had suddenly dawned. “She’s so good…I’m so impressed…I’m so…lucky!”
Who can blame him if he sounds surprised? Once Hollywood’s leading Lothario, Beatty is, at 61, the unlikely picture of connubial contentment. Since wedding Bening, 40, his Bugsy costar, in 1992, he is not only serenely monogamous (it’s “easy,” he recently told shock jock Howard Stern) but also a proud father of three (Kathlyn, 6, Benjamin, 3, and Isabel, 1) who coaches Little League and schedules work around his family. “I can’t stand to be away from them,” he told USA Today.
Even more remarkable, however, in a town where impulsive marriages and vituperative divorces grab all the headlines, he’s not the only star with long-term devotion. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson marked 10 years of marriage this year, as will Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan. In April, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver celebrated their 12th anniversary, while Bette Midler and performance artist Martin von Haselberg will ring in their 14th in December. Not to mention the scores of celebs who have weathered better and worse for 20, 30, even 60 years (see sidebar).
Of course, longevity isn’t always synonymous with lasting love. But with some stars, the passion seems eternal. At the annual Artists Rights Foundation dinner in April, Tom Cruise, 35, and his wife of seven years, Nicole Kidman, 31, were kissing between courses, massaging each other’s shoulders and singing aloud to one another when Melissa Etheridge performed his favorite song, “Brown Eyed Girl.” “Officially we will be on our honeymoon the rest of our lives,” Kidman predicted in January 1992, not long after their first anniversary. Six years and two children later, the couple so far appear to have made that forecast come true. “They’re like playmates,” says United Artists president Lindsay Doran, executive producer of Cruise’s 1993 film The Firm. “They just make each other happy.” Cruise’s Jerry Maguire costar Renée Zellweger noticed the togetherness factor too. “They are so in love,” she told PEOPLE last year. “It’s the nicest thing.”
Director Forest Whitaker was equally impressed with the devotion between his Hope Floats star Harry Connick Jr., 30, and his wife of four years, ex-Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre, 34. During filming, Connick even kept an assistant standing by to hold his wedding ring, so that he could slip it back on his finger after each take. “They’re very loving,” says Whitaker. “It’s really beautiful to watch.” The pair-parents of Georgia, 2, and Sara, 9 months—credit their success to communication and honesty. “No secrets,” says Connick. “You can’t have any or you’ll be in trouble.” Adds Hope costar Sandra Bullock: “They just respect and love each other so much.”
While Connick and Goodacre were youthful lovers (he was 22, she 26, when he leapt out of an L.A. hotel pool in 1990 to ask her out), many of Hollywood’s most enduring twosomes found their lasting unions the second or even third time around. Actress Anjelica Huston was 38 and getting over a 17-year romance with Jack Nicholson when she was introduced to sculptor Robert Graham, then 51, in 1990, by art dealer and mutual friend Earl McGrath. “She had to find the right man,” says McGrath. “They are a perfect match.”
Jane Fonda was 50, a mother of three and twice divorced when she met the twice-divorced media mogul Ted Turner, a father of five. Wed in 1991, they are, decrees their friend, talk show host Larry King, “the most in-love couple I know.” Says Fonda, 60, who retired from acting soon after the wedding and now rarely leaves the 59-year-old Turner’s side: “I don’t necessarily think that the third time is the lucky charm, but it sure feels that way.”
Of course, it doesn’t always require a ring to make a relationship work. Goldie Hawn, 52, and Kurt Russell, 47, had both been divorced when they fell in love on the set of their 1984 film Swing Shift. They’ve cohabited ever since, raised four kids and still “know how to have fun together,” says Hawn’s friend, actress-director Lee Grant. “I sat behind them on a plane once,” adds model Tyra Banks. “They were joking and cuddling and giggling like newlyweds.”
Oprah Winfrey, 44, and marketing executive Stedman Graham, 47, also have not formalized their relationship—despite announcing their engagement in 1992. They fax each other their itineraries each week and spend their precious time together traveling or relaxing on her Indiana farm. “They’re very lovey-dovey,” says Chicago Sun-Times writer Stella Foster. “People want them to get married. Why?”
Some of the strongest celebrity relationships have been tempered by adversity. Describing her marriage to Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, 44, recently told Ladies’ Home Journal, “It’s like, ‘No matter what comes down, it’s you and me, pal, together.’ He trusts me to the ends of the world and I trust him.” Jackie Collins, author of Hollywood Wives, admires how Baldwin, 40, has consistently stood by his wife, who in 1993 was ordered to pay the producers of Boxing Helena some $8 million for breach of contract—a judgment that prompted her to file for bankruptcy. Baldwin sat in the courtroom throughout the trial and defended Basinger vociferously in the press. “He seems so proud and supportive,” says Collins. “When two people are in the same business, that’s hard to do.”
Brooke Shields, 33, met her match outside of the movie industry, in tennis player Andre Agassi, 28, who she says helped her put her life in perspective. “He was more important to me, ultimately, than anything else,” Shields, who met Agassi in 1993, told Good Housekeeping in March. “Having him as my sounding board, having him to talk to when I got home allowed me to focus in a different way.” And although she recently told PEOPLE that the year since their April 1997 wedding has been “the hardest of my life; nothing changes and everything changes,” the pair are learning to cope with schedules that haven’t allowed them to be together at their Las Vegas home for more than three weeks at a stretch. “I think it helps that they have realistic expectations about each other’s career demands,” says their friend, songwriter Linda Thompson. “I’m sure the pressure of their schedules takes its toll, but there is a level of comfort and security between them.”
Of course, making any relationship work can be hard in Hollywood. “There’s an awful lot of temptation in this business,” admits NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz, 53, who married corporate gift-buyer Joanie Zeck, 50, in 1995, after a 13-year romance. “You’re around attractive people in romantic locations, and you can indulge in your fantasies and get into trouble. To avoid that, you have to know you have a mate at home whose feelings you respect.” Natasha Richardson agrees. “It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of love,” says the 35-year-old actress, who is now starring in Cabaret on Broadway while her husband of nearly four years, Liam Neeson, 46, headlines in The Judas Kiss a few blocks away. Godzilla‘s Matthew Broderick, 36, and Sarah Jessica Parker, 33, who wed in 1997 after some six years together, believe in unconditional acceptance. “We love each other and let the other person be themselves,” says Broderick. “We don’t try to convince the other to be something that they’re not.”
Romance becomes more complicated once children arrive. Like other couples, stars must find a way to balance career and family demands—but where actors are involved, there’s also the problem of long location shoots, often far from home. Cruise and Kidman have tried alternating films so that they can be together with Isabella, 5, and Connor, 3, when filming. Michelle Pfeiffer, 41, has turned down movies (including Evita and Sleepless in Seattle) that would have involved lengthy separations from her husband of four years, Ally McBeal and The Practice producer-creator David E. Kelley, 42, and their children, Claudia Rose, 5, and John Henry, 3. “I didn’t feel that was fair to him,” she told Ladies’ Home Journal in 1996. “I think there are very few couples who can survive that.”
Though Rita Wilson, 41, and Tom Hanks, 41, who met while making 1985’s Volunteers, never made a decision to put his career before hers, Wilson always believed that family should be the priority. “Everybody has their needs and requirements, and mine is that my family stays together,” she told Redbook in 1995. Her close friend and neighbor Kate Capshaw, 44, decided much the same thing when she married her Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom director Steven Spielberg in 1991 and immersed herself in raising their family (her daughter Jessica, 21, from her first marriage to marketing director Robert Capshaw; Spielberg’s son Max, 13, from his first marriage to Amy Irving; and Theo, 9, Sasha, 8, Sawyer, 6, Mikaela, 2, and Destry, 1). She also made sure the compromising wasn’t one-sided. When Spielberg was filming Jurassic Park, she persuaded studio execs to allow her husband to leave the set at 5:30 each day. “I think Kate has shown him that he can have a home life that is as exciting as work has been for him,” says Wilson. Spielberg, 50, concurs. “I found true love with Kate and I don’t say that with a Harlequin romance feeling,” he says. “I say it from the most honest part of me.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 50, and Maria Shriver, 42, make sure that neither his film career nor her Dateline NBC reporting intrudes on time with their four children (Katherine, 8, Christina, 6, Patrick, 4, and Christopher, 8 months); the couple even take turns driving them to school each morning. “They established priorities from the start and kept them,” says Schwarzenegger’s longtime friend and business partner James Lorimer. “Family is first and careers are second.”
Many stars also find living outside of L.A. can help. Michael J. Fox has said that he signed onto Spin City in 1996 in part because it allowed him to work in New York City, near the 80-acre Connecticut home he shares with his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, 37, their son Sam, 9, and their 3-year-old twin daughters, Aquinnah and Schuyler. “If we’re [in L.A.] all the time, our life is about me,” Fox, 37, told USA Weekend in 1997. “I don’t want my family to be about me. I want it to be about us.” Fox and Pollan, who played Fox’s girlfriend on the sitcom Family Ties, “are inordinately devoted and nurturing,” says Tracy’s father, Stephen Pollan, a New York City attorney. “The kids are the biggest things in their lives.”
Since the birth of daughter Sophie in 1986, Bette Midler and Martin von Haselberg have also built their lives around family. Midler, 52, avoids roles that require long periods away from their Manhattan apartment, and the three make a point of eating dinner together every evening (“and we cook,” she boasted to INSTYLE last year). When Midler was making the 1996 film The First Wives Club, von Haselberg and Sophie were frequent visitors to the set. “You really see a family structure,” says the film’s executive producer, Adam Schroeder.
They also still work to please one another. For Midler’s 50th birthday in 1995, von Haselberg, 49, threw a party on the roof of the building across from theirs, complete with a hula dancer in honor of Midler’s Hawaii upbringing—a gesture she called “the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.” Clearly these are two people who know each other well. Like other successful Hollywood marriages, theirs succeeds, Schroeder believes, because “there’s longevity. They’ve been together and have supported each other for a long period of time. They complement each other in a terrific way.”
—Cynthia Sanz from bureau reports