Sunday, June 13, 2010

Young and Old Alike

I always assumed that Marvin Gaye held some kind of record for the disparate age of his spouses - his first wife Anna Gordy (who was Berry's older sister) was seventeen years his senior, and his second wife, Janis Hunter, was sixteen years his junior. But the playwright Garson Kanin made a run at the record. He married the great actress Ruth Gordon, who was 16 years older than he, in 1942, then married the great actress Marian Seldes, who was 16 years younger than he, in 1990, after Miss Gordon's death.

Now, I am aware that there are probably several rich dudes with trophy wives who have married people with an age difference of greater than 33 years. That's not what I'm talking about; I'm talking about people who married two people with a decade or more of distance on either side of their own age.

I learned this tidbit about Garson Kanin in the midst of a wonderful story in this morning's New York Times Magazine about Marian Seldes, who was honored on the Tony Awards tonight. Miss Seldes comes across as a down-to-earth, likable, even plucky character, despite the fact that she is one of the most astonishing performers I've ever seen. I had the privilege of seeing her in Edward Albee's Three Tall Women in 1992 at New York's Beacon Theatre. There were times when Miss Seldes would be sitting quietly, doing nothing but listening to another character speak, and you still couldn't take your eyes off her. No one listens like Marian Seldes. I'm sure Garson Kanin appreciated it.


  1. Some that don't meet your criteria:
    Tom Cruise: 22, 6 years younger than Mimi Rogers and 16 older than Katie Holmes.
    Tony Randall: 50, all in one relationship.
    Hedy LaMarr: 25, 19 years younger than Gene Markey and 6 years older than Lewis Boies
    Anna Nicole Smith: 64, 1 year older than her first husband and 63 years younger than her second.

    But Demi Moore qualifies, clocking in with a 27-year range (12 years younger than Freddy Moore and 15 years older than Ashton Kutcher).

    I feel like there's somebody out there who shattered Gaye's numbers.

  2. Liz Taylor!

    She was 23 years younger than Mike Todd (marriage #3) and 20 years older than Larry Fortensky (marriage #8), for an impressive 43-year span.

  3. Well done! I thought of Martha Raye, who was 33 years older than her last husband, but she doesn't appear to have been any more than six years younger than the first five (!).