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Classic love stories of the old Hollywood most iconic couples …

Ian Smith


Old Hollywood surely knew how to make iconic movies, especially love stories which now represent a symbol of simple, sheer romance. Aside of, building a foundation for  solid and quality movie epics,  Hollywood off-screen has had ample of love stories that are more beautiful and deeper than the best romantic movies from nowadays.

Old Hollywood was filled with beautiful actresses and actors who till nowadays are symbols for sophisticated and elegant beauty.  Some of them  have portrayed unforgettable romances both On and Off screen and made history in the classic Hollywood sea of love.

Here are the couples which stories were better than some of their romance movies.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
With-Clark-Gable-after-their-honeymoon-1939. Source
With Clark Gable after their honeymoon 1939. Source

The plot of their love story is ultimately romantic, thrilling and as every epic romance, this one also ends tragically. Lombard and Gable first met during  No Man of Her Own in 1932, but their relationship was strictly professional and distant since both of them were married at that time.

After a few years, they met again but this time, it was far from professional. In 1940, Gable was in the midst the epic Gone with the Wind, and by that time he had a passionate affair with Lombard. As soon as Gable had a day off from Gone with the Wind, he and Lombard eloped to an Arizona Railroad town and got married by Gable’s movie agent in the back of a limo.

Lombard was tragically killed in 1942 in a plane crash along with her was her mother. It was a well-known fact that Gable was utterly crushed by her death and heartbrokenly joined the army. Even though he was married twice, he requested to be buried next to Lombard at Forest Lawn cemetery.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford


American actors Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) and Mary Pickford (1892-1979)Source
American actors Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) and Mary Pickford (1892-1979)Source

He was the old Hollywood favorite clown and she was America’s sweetheart, together they were the classiest couple of the Silent Era.

Fairbanks fell in love during the Liberty Bond Tour in 1916 (they were together on the tour with Charlie Chaplin). They married in 1920 and were one of the first celebrity married couples, went to Europe for their honeymoon; fans in London and in Paris caused riots trying to get to the famous couple. The couple’s triumphant return to Hollywood was witnessed by vast crowds who turned out to hail them at railway stations across the United States. Dinners at Pickfair included a number of notable guests. Charlie Chaplin, Fairbanks’ best friend, was often present. Other guests included George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H. G. Wells, Lord Mountbatten, Fritz Kreisler, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Noël Coward, Max Reinhardt, Baron Nishi, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Austen Chamberlain, Sir Harry Lauder, and Meher Baba, among others. The public nature of Pickford’s second marriage strained it to the breaking point. Both she and Fairbanks had a little time off from producing and acting in their films. They were also constantly on display as America’s unofficial ambassadors to the world, leading parades, cutting ribbons, and making speeches. When their film careers both began to flounder at the end of the silent era, Fairbanks’ restless nature prompted him to overseas travel (something which Pickford did not enjoy). When Fairbanks’ romance with Sylvia, Lady Ashley became public in the early 1930’s, he and Pickford separated. They divorced January 10th, 1936. Fairbanks’ son by his first wife, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., claimed his father and Pickford long regretted their inability to reconcile.


Greta Garbo and John Gilbert
Gilbert with Greta Garbo in A Woman of Affairs (1929) Source
Gilbert with Greta Garbo in A Woman of Affairs (1929) Source

Here is another iconic couple from the Silent Era. Greta Garbo and John Gilbert were simultaneously colleagues and lovers. They worked together as  leading heroes in three silent movies :Flesh And The Devil, Love and A Woman Of Affairs.

They met on the set on their first movie together Flesh and the Devil, Gilbert by then was immensely popular with an opulent movie showcase and Garbo was merely unknown and marked as  Moody Ice Queen. When Gilbert introduces himself to Garbo he refers to her by her first name (Hello Greta) on which she strictly replied: “It is Miss Garbo,” and Gilbert was immediately impressed.

They had a passionate and dynamic relationship but their love has never been officiated since Gilbert forced marriage and Garbo wasn’t interested.

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
Leigh and Olivier in Australia, June 1948 Source
Leigh and Olivier in Australia, June 1948 Source

Their love affair was the steamiest and one of the first scandals in old Hollywood. Vivien fell in love with Laurence in 1936, they worked together in 1937 and started a passionate affair. By then they were both married and had to keep their relationship in secret. After  Vivien’s breakthrough role as Scarlet O” Hara, she and Olivier finally publicized their love in 1940.

Vivien Leigh was always outspoken about her deep affection for Olivier, they were married for 20 years and both had a successful career. However, Vivien Leigh had been struggling with manic depression and nervous breakdowns, which sadly lead to the end of her marriage.

In his autobiography Olivier wrote, “Throughout her possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression, with its deadly ever-tightening spirals, she retained her own individual canniness – an ability to disguise her true mental condition from almost all except me, for whom she could hardly be expected to take the trouble.”

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren  Bacall


Bacall in her first movie, To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart, 1944 Source
Bacall in her first movie, To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart, 1944 Source

Their relationship and love are known to be  one of the most sincere, beautiful and inspiring romance story ever told.

They met at the set for the To Have and Have Not in 1944 and immediately fell in love. Bogart was 26 years older than Bacall and three times married. If you have watched the movie you surely had noticed the extreme chemistry these two lovebirds had.

Even though Bogart was married at that time, they started an affair that made history. After a while, Boogie divorced his third wife to marry Lauren. They had two children together and a happy marriage, until Bogie fell ill. He died in 1957 from cancer at the age of 57.

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
The majority of films Hepburn did in this period were with Spencer Tracy.Source
The majority of films Hepburn did in this period were with Spencer Tracy.Source

The most significant relationship of Hepburn’s life was with Spencer Tracy, her co-star in nine films. In her autobiography she wrote, “It was a unique feeling that I had for [Tracy]. I would have done anything for him.” Lauren Bacall, a close friend, later wrote of how “blindingly” in love Hepburn was with the actor.The relationship has subsequently received much publicity, and it is often cited as one of Hollywood’s legendary love affairs. Meeting when she was 34 and he was 41, Tracy was initially wary of Hepburn, unimpressed by her dirty fingernails and suspecting that she was a lesbian, but Hepburn said she “knew right away that I found him irresistible.” Tracy remained married throughout their relationship; although he and his wife Louise had been living separate lives since the 1930’s, there was never an official split and neither party pursued a divorce. Hepburn did not interfere, and never fought for marriage.

With Tracy determined to conceal the relationship with Hepburn from his wife, it had to remain private. They were careful not to be seen in public together and maintained separate residences.Tracy was an alcoholic and was frequently depressed; Hepburn described him as “tortured”, and she devoted herself to making his life easier. Reports from people who saw them together describe how Hepburn’s entire demeanor changed when around Tracy.She mothered and obeyed him, and Tracy became heavily dependent on her. They often spent stretches of time apart due to their work, particularly in the 1950’s when Hepburn was largely abroad for career commitments.

Tracy’s health declined significantly in the 1960’s, and Hepburn took a five-year break in her career to care for him.She moved into Tracy’s house for this period and was with him when he died on June 10, 1967. Out of consideration for Tracy’s family, she did not attend his funeral.It was only after Louise Tracy’s death, in 1983, that Hepburn began to speak publicly about her feelings for her frequent co-star. In response to the question of why she stayed with Tracy for so long, despite the nature of their relationship, she said, “I honestly don’t know. I can only say that I could never have left him.” She claimed to not know how he felt about her and that they “just passed twenty-seven years  together in what was to me absolute bliss.

Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward


Paul_Newman_and_Joanne_Woodward_1958 Source
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward 1958 Source


Here is one love story that proved the “Happily ever after.” Newman met Woodward on the movie set of  “The Long Hot Summer” in 1953.  They married in 1957 and stay together in a blissful marriage of 50 years. They celebrated their Golden Anniversary Wedding just before Paul Newsman death in 2008.

They were always outspoken about their sincere love, true friendship, and trustworthy relationship.

Joan Woodward was quoted” Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah that a really treat”  while Newman expressed his loyalty and love in rather tasty analogy  as he quoted ” I have a steak at home, why should go out for a hamburger.”

Ian Smith

Ian Smith is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News