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A Double Date with Destiny : Famous Couples & You

December 27, 2010

Not every Hollywood relationships ends after 18 months and the firing of a publicist.  Yes, some of them go for the long, long distance (the oft-mentioned Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), but mostly stars are just like us:  serial monogamists.  While catching up on CSI over the holiday weekend, I was talking about Lawrence Fishburne’s being married to Gina Torres, and for a moment got all dreamy thinking about a dinner double-date with the couple.  I think this game started sometime in the 90s, when Tracy Chapman was dating Alice Walker while Meshell Ndegeocello was linked to Rebecca Walker, and my friend Kate said, “can you imagine that powerhouse of a Thanksgiving dinner?!?”    So forget the whole what-famous-person-alive-or-dead-do-you-want-to-meet question:  what pair of actors, artists, or musicians would you want to invite you over to their house for dinner and a bottle of [personal preference]?  Here are a few more of mine.

Anne Bancroft & Mel Brooks

I am not a Mel Brooks fan.  I know, I’m sorry, I don’t hate the guy or begrudge you for knowing Spaceballs by heart, it’s just that he’s not my cup of comedy tea.  Bancroft, on the other hand, I love.  Though apparently I didn’t know her very well, since it wasn’t until she passed in 2005 that I learned she’d been married to Mel Brooks.  Mel Brooks!  And for 41 years.  41 years!  It’s been over 5 years and I’m still intrigued by this pairing.  I bet they had a great household and it would be a lively dinner with lots of laughing and wine and some fart jokes at the end…that Anne would make.

Lauren Bacall & Jason Robards

What, you thought I’d say Humphrey Bogart?  That dude is just ok.  But Robards, oh Robards!  He was only married to Bacall for 8 years, but they also had a kid together.  It was back in the 60s, which means I’d take a time machine back to visit them and probably find out that she drinks more than he thinks she does and he smokes more than she thinks he does and after a dinner of razor sharp storytelling, the mean barbs would start working their way out and I’d hurry through dessert to get out before it was too awkward.  Or it would end in a threesome.  It could go either way, really.

Andre Agassi & Steffi Graf

Perhaps the reason I ever got into Parks and Recreation is that I share Ron Swanson’s love for Steffi Graf.  I was shocked, scandalized almost when I first saw tabloid photos of these two frolicking on a beach over 10 years ago, it seemed like such an unusual pairing.  When I read Andre’s memoir last spring, it made sense…in a way.  Dinner at their house would be impeccably tailored to my taste and interest, they would put on an excellent show as hosts and the entire time I would be talking excitedly to cover my nervousness.  It wouldn’t be starstruckness per se, it’s more that I’d probably ask question after question about tennis, even though I know enough about them personally to know they’d hate me for bringing tennis up constantly.  Dinner with them is impossible for me to ignore in this fantasy game, though it’s the one that would inevitably leave me feeling like a dork for ruining their night and acting like a gushing tedious fan.  Damn, I can’t even fantasize a pleasant dinner with them!  And yet…I still want it.

Honorable Mentions:  Heidi Klum & Seal; Julie Taymor & Elliot Goldenthal; Helen Mirren & Taylor Hackford; Julianne Moore & Bart Freundlich; Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner


So who do you want to double-date with?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2010 3:08 am

    This is too easy, especially since I ran into them as I was just walking down the block: Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. I actually see Nick fairly often, at least often enough to have him nod at me and me back at him around, but I hadn’t seen Valerie in person until this recent time. She totally ignored me, however. Maybe I’d be better off with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., but I haven’t crossed paths with them at all, so I don’t know. I’d like to think so, in theory.

    Acting is a bit tougher than music and we’ve talked about that before… a lot of the time, doing the same kind of work automatically creates a competitive atmosphere which can either cause the couple to stay apart just from working so much, or create a kind of employment jealousy, if one is getting plum roles and the other gets asked to be on Skating with Celebrities. You picked out the cream of the crop, but I’m sure Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy would have been fun. I got to see them perform The Gin Game on Broadway, years ago (and I think there’s a copy of it on DVD somewhere) and I imagine that the banter and charm and knowingness they had as those two characters must have been at least somewhat similar to their relationship!

    It’s a lovely topic, Raymond!

  2. December 27, 2010 6:31 am

    Naomi Watts & Liev Schreiber! They seem like a totally nice little family. Of course, Courtney and Angela and their twinners! Salma Hayak and Edward Norton (or actually any of his more interesting pairings). Harrison and Calista. I know that Ed Bradley is looking down from heaven and smiling at his old pal finding true love (again).

  3. December 27, 2010 6:47 am

    Also, I see you, La Mirren and Tay Tay!

  4. December 27, 2010 8:41 am

    Naomi and Liev! yes yes.

    And @NYCPenPusher, I can’t wait to read about the Ashford & Simpson chapter in your future biography. It seems inevitable!

  5. eieioj permalink
    December 27, 2010 9:58 am

    Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft are totally on my list. Also, Johnny and June Carter Cash. And Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

    Also, Seal and Heidi, but that’s for potential voyueristic reasons.

  6. Hsofia permalink
    December 27, 2010 12:36 pm

    @eieioj – Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee were great; I was friends with their grandkids and they would take us places, like the circus and Waldbaum’s.

    I don’t know if I’d want to have dinner with them as I don’t know what we’d talk about, but Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn. If Robin came out with a memoir or autobiography, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. They might have a volatile relationship so I’d just hope not to unwittingly start an argument that they’d break up over (again).

    Daniel Day-Lewis and Rebecca Miller. Again, so out of my league and worlds apart but I think they’d be interesting, though maybe not chatty. Maybe after a few drinks, or ten.

    Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn – how could this not be fun times?!

  7. December 27, 2010 12:37 pm

    Ossie and Ruby are another standard for Hollywood classics that I would have loved to have dinner with — I could learn so much about longterm relationships from their banter alone!

  8. December 28, 2010 12:07 am

    One of the Hollywood couples I always wondered about was Patty Duke and John Astin. Seriously, every time I try to envision what their marriage was like, my head explodes! I mean, they did TattleTales with Bert Convy and such… but it was just such a unique pairing, it would have been very interesting to have seen how it all went, especially since Duke went ahead and talked about her disorders through most of her life in both her biography and in many interviews (child stars from that era had it the worst).

    on the other side of the Addams, Carolyn Jones was married to Aaron Spelling before he hit it huge, and that was another case where one star shined much brighter than the other… of course now Spelling is a household name, where Jones is a trivia question or bit player character on “Mad Men,” which is sad, because she was an extremely talented actress, rather like Yvonne DeCarlo, but got that TV role that became her identity. What was the Jones/Spelling house like, I wonder. Probably not very happy, especially since the on-screen chemistry of Jones and Astin was, and still is, very hot!

  9. December 28, 2010 5:59 am

    I’ll just go for an obvious one and say Hepburn/Tracy. Then there’s Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen, and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. And hopefully, with enough skill at time travel, I could catch each couple when they were happy (or at least civil to each other).

  10. December 28, 2010 8:55 am

    Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer

    omg, I totally forgot about that couple! could I be your date to that double-date??

  11. December 28, 2010 10:09 am

    Wait, Ted’s Mary used to be with Alex from A Clockwork Orange? Whoa. I did not know that. Hahah, how come nobody’s said Bill and Hill?

  12. IrishUp permalink
    December 28, 2010 12:17 pm

    I would love to double with Jada and Will – the adorable factor is off the charts, and they seem very interesting. Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest seem like they would be such fun. I don’t know much about Deborra-Lee Furness except what I’ve read, or heard Hugh Jackman say about her, but my impression is that this would be an evening well spent.

    Allowed access to a wayback machine, Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Carole Lombard and whomever she was with at the time (woman had seriously good taste!), Ray Davies and Chrisse Hynde, and hands DOWN the Shelley’s (Percy & Mary).

    A double date with Bill and Hill? They always seem so “on” when in public, I wonder if it wouldn’t feel like being in a car dealership? Then again, my impression from candid photos of them is they have a real sort of cuddly connection that could be nice to be around. OTOH, pure curiosity would make me accept Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, should they ever ask!

  13. December 28, 2010 2:30 pm

    I am very certain that even Bill and Hill would not say Bill and Hill!

    Maybe the ultimate couple would have been Jackie an Aristotle Onassis. Just imagine what a 4 day weekend with them might have been like… but how were the relations? Maybe it would have played out like an episode of “Dynasty,” with Ari, a Greek Blake Carrington and Jackie alternating between Krystal and Alexis in her behavior towards him. The yachting! The helicopters! The mansions!

    On the same tip: Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.

  14. hsofia permalink
    December 28, 2010 3:18 pm

    “Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest”
    Oh yes! I love them, especially Jamie (Lee). Is it Jamie or Jamie Lee? I guess I’d need to get that answered first.

    Also, Isabella Rosselini when she was with David Lynch.

  15. December 28, 2010 8:50 pm

    Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis! I am still, “Whoa, really?” whenever I hear mention of that pairing. It would be so Love Jones, except with better music.

  16. December 28, 2010 8:52 pm

    OMG I cannot believe we haven’t yet mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Caine!

  17. December 29, 2010 3:58 pm

    I give all credit to my gf for this one:

    David Bowie and Iman.

  18. hsofia permalink
    December 29, 2010 11:05 pm

    Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis?! Ohemgee, did they have any kids? **off to see Dr. Google**

  19. evmaroon permalink
    December 30, 2010 1:56 pm

    I second the Russell-Hawn and Curtis-Guest, but I don’t know how I wouldn’t just gush all night!

    Do they have to be romantic couples? Couldn’t I just have supper with David and Amy Sedaris?

    I might most enjoy conversation with Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DiRossi, but as I write this I’m starting to feel a little sheepish about revealing that.

  20. Jillamina permalink
    January 3, 2011 4:14 pm

    Totally David Bowie & Iman.

    @hsofia I’d also enjoy the Isabella Rossellini-Martin Scorsese combo.

    Werner & Lena Herzog (She studied the history and philosophy of science! She’s an alt-process photographer!)

    I’m not sure if my laugh-muscles are up to the challenge, but I’d be willing to risk side-cramps for dinner with Amy Poehler and Will Arnett.

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