Elizabeth Leonard
October 22, 2012 12:00 PM

While some celeb splits cause shockwaves (think Tom and Katie), others create merely sad ripples: After 30 years of marriage (and 42 years living together), actor-director Danny DeVito, 67, and his wife, Cheers star Rhea Perlman, 64, confirmed they were separating. “There’s nothing scandalous,” says a source; no third parties were involved.

Indeed no clues indicated that what Perlman told an interviewer in 1996 wasn’t still true in 2012. “I know that we were meant to be together,” said the actress of her husband, best known for starring in sitcoms like Taxi and directing dark comedies like The War of the Roses. “We are a strange couple,” she said. “But I don’t know any couple that isn’t strange.”

In that regard-and as the parents of three now-grown children (Lucy, 29, Grace, 27, and Jacob, 25)-they were completely relatable. And yet they were unusual. On one of their first dates after meeting in 1970-they were both struggling actors in New York City-he took her to his apartment and showed her footage he’d filmed of an enormous cockroach. Still, the equally diminutive couple (she stands 1 in. taller than the 5-ft. DeVito) always seemed delighted with each other’s company. “He’s a total goofball,” she said. Differences in their backgrounds-she is Jewish and he’s Italian-were a non-issue. The solution, he said: “We never eat spaghetti on the same night we eat bagels and lox.”

Soulmates who thrived as outsiders, they each won fame playing tough, wisecracking working stiffs-he as Louie, Taxi‘s dispatcher and she as Carla, the waitress on Cheers-and both won Emmys. They also cofounded the successful production company Jersey Films (Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich).

While DeVito has remained in front of the camera (he currently stars in FX’s cult hit It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Perlman has stayed more out of the spotlight. But after all these years, it seemed safe to assume fame would never change the couple. “Any good thing that happens to someone you love,” Perlman once told PEOPLE, “can only be good for you too.”

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