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MEET YOUR MATCH
Michael Douglas falls for Catherine Zeta-Jones after seeing her in The Mask of Zorro and has mutual friend Antonio Banderas introduce them in 1998. Though Douglas is 54 and Zeta-Jones is 29, "It's nothing," the actress tells PEOPLE of their age difference. On New Year's Eve 1999, Douglas proposes to Zeta-Jones, and 8 months later they welcome their first child, son Dylan.
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OH HAPPY DAY
The glamorous couple ties the knot in 2000 with a star-studded wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel. Highlights include a 40-person Welsh choir, 20,000 cream-colored roses decorating the room, performances by Gladys Knight and Jimmy Buffett and a 10-tier wedding cake. "The ceremony felt like a royal wedding," guest Dana Reeve told PEOPLE. Their joy continues with hit movies – both appeared in 2000's acclaimed Traffic, while Zeta-Jones earned an Oscar for 2002's Chicago – and the arrival of their daughter Carys, born in 2003.
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The Douglases hit their first public bump in the road in 2003, when they sue Britain's Hello! magazine for publishing unauthorized photos of their wedding (they win). In 2004, Zeta-Jones sues a Reno, Nev., strip club for putting her picture on its website (details of the case are not revealed). And in 2005, the couple faces off against a stalker, a woman who made death threats against Zeta-Jones and admitted to being in love with Douglas; she's sentenced to a three-year prison term and a 10-year restraining order.
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Despite the courtroom drama, life goes on for Douglas and Zeta-Jones. The actress finds success in films like Ocean's Twelve and a Zorro sequel, while her husband appears alongside other A-listers in The Sentinel and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. The pair raises their children in Bermuda, and Zeta-Jones tells PEOPLE in 2007 that she's relishing motherhood. "The best thing ... is having those little beautiful faces look up to you and say, 'Mama,'" she shares.
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A STEP BACK
Douglas's son from his first marriage, Cameron, 30, is arrested in New York in August 2009 and charged with methamphetamine dealing. The troubled actor was charged with cocaine possession in California in 2007 and arrested on the same charge in New York in 1997. He receives five years in prison for the 2009 charges – much to the relief of his family – but faces another setback when he's caught keeping drugs in his prison cell in 2011, further stressing his father.
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The couple faces more family drama in 2010 when Douglas's ex-wife Diandra takes her former husband to court, asking for half the money he earned making Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. She argues that since Douglas made the first film while they were still married, she's entitled to money from the sequel; however, a New York judge disagrees.
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The Douglases find their faith shaken again in August 2010, when the actor reveals he has throat cancer. "I'll beat this," he tells PEOPLE, though he admits that his chemotherapy and radiation treatments "really [knock] you out." Zeta-Jones stays dutifully by her husband's side, telling PEOPLE, "If there's anything Michael has, it's strength."
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Though Douglas is cancer-free by January 2011, it's his wife who needs help in April, when she checks herself into a mental health facility for treatment of her bipolar II disorder. "There's no question it's been a stressful year," a friend tells PEOPLE of Zeta-Jones. "Catherine has had to deal with Michael's illness and that's been hard. She went in for a few days because she's about to start working, and wanted to make sure she's in top form, which she is."
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In April 2013, Zeta-Jones returns to treatment for her bipolar II disorder. "She's doing a really good job of getting balanced. I'm proud of her," Douglas tells PEOPLE a few weeks before she comes home in May. In June, though, the actor gets himself in a bit of trouble with his words, implying that his cancer may have come from oral sex. He quickly attempts to clarify his remarks.
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Both in good health, Douglas and Zeta-Jones move their lives forward, enjoying quiet date nights, attending awards shows, filming new movies (left) and specials and for Zeta-Jones, speaking publicly about her condition. "If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it," she tells PEOPLE. "There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help."
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BAND OF GOLD
Days after PEOPLE confirms the stars are separating, Douglas is photographed on Aug. 31 wearing his wedding ring during a press conference for his movie Behind the Candelabra at a Deauville, France, film festival. "On the red carpet he mentioned that Deauville was where he met his wife," a source told PEOPLE. "It's probably a very good thing that he's here."
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WORKING ON IT
Victory is sweet for Douglas at the 2013 Emmys on Sept. 20: During his acceptance speech for lead actor in a movie (HBO's Behind the Candleabra), he affectionately refers to Zeta-Jones, saying, "I want to thank my wife, Catherine, for her support." On his way into the ceremony he told PEOPLE, "We're working things out, talking, and we'll see how she goes."