It's hard enough to date in Hollywood without choosing a partner who brings the wrong kind of attention to the relationship… Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of the most controversial marriages over the years, starting with this whopper: In 1997, Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his former longtime partner, actress Mia Farrow. The famed film director claims he and Soon-Yi barely knew each other during his relationship with the "Rosemary's Baby" star, which lasted more than a decade — and that they only started seeing each other after his romance with the actress had come to an end. Mia, meanwhile, has maintained that she dumped Woody when she discovered he was having an affair with her daughter, who was in college at the time. Despite their dubious origins — and their 35-year age difference — Woody and Soon-Yi, who turned 50 in 2020, are still going strong. Now keep reading for more…
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In 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis notoriously married his first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown — her father was his first cousin — when she was just 13 and he was 22. To make matters worse, Jerry was still legally married to his second wife when he and Myra first tied the knot. Later, following his divorce, they made their union official, but it ultimately wasn't meant to be: After welcoming two children with the Grammy winner, Myra filed to legally end their marriage in 1970. She accused Jerry — who went on to marry four more times — of adultery and abuse.
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Kim Kardashian West famously separated from her second husband, Kris Humphries, just 72 days after they tied the knot. The basketball star popped the question after just six months of dating, and three months later, they exchanged vows as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" cameras rolled. (In other words: Their courtship, engagement and marriage all went down in less than a year.) The breakneck pace of their relationship prompted speculation that Kim only married Kris so that she could film their extravagant nuptials for her reality TV show: E! reportedly banked millions selling advertising spots for the wedding special. In 2017, Kim said she had doubts about marrying Kris leading up to their big day but worried, "If I pulled out now, everyone's going to think I just did it for the show."
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Another super-short marriage that sparked rumors that were hard to shake? Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney's union. The A-list actress and the country crooner tied the knot in the Virgin Islands in May 2005, mere months after they met at a charity event in January. But as quickly as you can say "I do," they were over. That September, Renee filed to have the marriage annulled, citing "fraud" as the reason for the split. That bit of legalese prompted rumors that Kenny only married the Oscar winner to hide the fact that he was closeted. The buzz about his sexuality grew so loud, Renee released a statement clarifying that "the term 'fraud' as listed in the documentation is simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character." Added the "Chicago" star, "I would personally be very grateful for your support in refraining from drawing derogatory, hurtful, sensationalized or untrue conclusions." But it was too late: The rumors have followed the singer ever since.
Mariah Carey's first marriage was extremely toxic. She was in her early 20s when her relationship with Tommy Mottola, who's two decades her senior, turned romantic. At the time, he was the head of Sony Music. In other words, he was her boss and had total control over her career. They married in 1993 and divorced five years later. In 2019, the superstar compared herself to "a child bride." Said Mariah of her time as the music exec's missus, "There was no freedom for me as a human being. It was almost like being a prisoner." She even had a nickname for the home they shared: Sing Sing … as in the New York maximum-security prison. (In his 2013 memoir, Tommy admitted the marriage was "absolutely wrong and inappropriate.")
When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot in 2018, their union was widely celebrated in America — especially in Hollywood, where the native Californian and "Suits" starlet has roots. In England, however, it was a different story: Many Brits questioned whether an older American divorcée of humble origins with entertainment industry ties was a suitable match for the royal, who was sixth in line to the British throne at the time.
The late Naya River married Ryan Dorsey in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in July 2014 — just three months after she and Big Sean announced that they'd called off their engagement. The whirlwind rush to the altar prompted rumors that the "Glee" star switched grooms, subbing in the actor at the wedding she'd planned with the rapper. "The media eschewed it into this whole thing," Naya later told People magazine. She also insisted that she and Ryan had a lengthy romantic history before her relationship with Sean and that they only reconnected after she and the chart-topper split. (Naya and Ryan split in 2016 and finalized their divorce in 2018, two years before her tragic death.)
There's no doubt that Celine Dion and her late husband, Rene Angelil, were deeply in love, but the timeline of their relationship is a little troubling if you consider the details: They met and started working together when the Canadian singer was just 12 and the talent manager was 38. They didn't marry until years later, though — when she was 26 and he was 52. (She's maintained over the years that their relationship only turned romantic after she turned 18.)
Nicolas Cage starred in David Lynch's 1990 crime-dramedy "Wild at Heart," which was heavily influenced by Elvis Presley. The film perpetuated the long-standing rumor that the actor is an Elvis superfan. So when he married The King's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, in Hawaii on the 25th anniversary of the iconic singer's death in August 2002, the rumor mill kicked into overdrive. The marriage, which lasted just three months, was plagued by whispers that Nic only married Lisa Marie because of her dad. "There was all this Elvis fascination and Elvis obsession," she said years later, adding that she and the Oscar winner were both "annoyed" by the way the public painted him "as an Elvis freak" because of the David Lynch flick. "We cannot be because you're an Elvis freak," she said.
Another marriage that was plagued by popular myths about its origins? Tom Cruise's union with Katie Holmes. There are infinite rumors about the role Scientology played in the marriage. The most popular is that the Church of Scientology auditioned the "Dawson's Creek" alum — along with several other famous faces — to date the superstar. In the years since, there have been whispers that Katie was deeply afraid of the church and due to its influence, felt trapped in her marriage with Tom. The "Mission: Impossible" star began wooing the actress, who's 17 years his junior, in early 2005 — just months after her engagement to Chris Klein came to an end. He proposed just seven weeks later. They married the following year and separated in 2012.
It's safe to say that in their early days as a couple, there weren't a lot of people rooting for Jason Aldean and Brittany Kerr. The country star had been married to Jessica Ussery for more than a decade when he was snapped kissing the "American Idol" alum at a bar in Hollywood in September 2012. The scandal didn't immediately break up his marriage: Jason and Jessica, who share two daughters, tried to make it work for seven months after the Brittany photos hit the Internet, but ultimately, the damage had been done. They threw in the towel in April 2013. Less than two years later — in March 2015 – Jason and Brittany tied the knot.
Courtney Stodden shot into the spotlight after she married Doug Hutchison in 2011 when he was 51 and she was 16. The duo first connected via email when she reached out in a professional capacity, but things soon turned romantic. After four months of communicating via email and on the phone — her parents monitored their early interactions — they finally met in person. The "Lost" actor then proposed, and with consent from Courtney's parents, they wed in Las Vegas. Their tumultuous off-and-on relationship finally came to an end in early 2020 when they finalized their divorce.
Did they do it for love or money? Haters have long questioned the authenticity of Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopras's union. The duo got engaged in July 2018 after a whirlwind courtship of just a few months, and by the end of the year, they'd tied the knot in several extravagant ceremonies featuring prominent branding partnerships. The "Quantico" star's bridal shower was sponsored by Tiffany & Co. Amazon sponsored their registry. Nick's bachelor party featured the scooter startup Lime, Elit vodka and more. And the list goes on! The branding fueled rumors that the pair only wed for clout and a payday. It's been nearly two years, though, and they're still going strong.
Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder tied the knot in April 2015 after less than a year of dating … and less than four months after she finalized her divorce from first husband Paul McDonald. The duo seemed like a match made in heaven — with the exception of one glaring detail: He was previously in a long-term relationship with her pal Nina Dobrev. At the time, there were rumors that Nina promptly ended her friendship with Nikki once the "Twilight" star started seeing her ex. According to the rumor mill, Nina also left "The Vampire Diaries" over the romance. Since then, however, the trio have made a show of insisting they're all good. In 2017, for example, Nikki took to Instagram to slam "made up stories about 'friends backstabbing friends,' 'cheating exes' or 'cast members exiting show,'" which she called "baseless rumors."
Jelena stans were baffled when Justin Bieber suddenly married Hailey Baldwin in an intimate ceremony at a New York City courthouse in September 2018 — just two months after he popped the question in the Bahamas and three months after they rekindled their off-and-on romance of several years. The real shocker was that Justin and another off-and-on love, Selena Gomez, were said to be working on their relationship that March, making his marriage look like one giant rebound from his childhood sweetheart. In the years since they said "I do," however, Justin and Hailey have made it clear that their relationship was actually much more serious than the public initially believed — they were able to fly under the radar because of the spotlight on his relationship with Selena.
In 2008 — after seven years as his No. 1 girlfriend — Holly Madison and Hugh Hefner parted ways over her desire to get married and have children. So fans of "The Girls Next Door" were furious on her behalf when the Playboy founder unexpectedly proposed to Crystal Harris less than two years later. (At the time, she was 24 and he was 84.) Adding insult to injury, the blonde beauty suddenly dumped Hef just five days before they were set to tie the knot in June 2011. At the time, there were rumors that Crystal was having an affair with Jordan McGraw — which she denied. The following year, Crystal and Hef reconciled — even though she publicly bashed his bedroom skills, telling Howard Stern, "I'm not turned on by Hef." They tied the knot on New Year's Eve 2012 and were still together when he died at 91 in 2017.
When Ethan Hawke married Ryan Shawhughes, his children's former nanny, in mid-2008, the world assumed they'd had an affair while he was still married to Uma Thurman. But the couple have long maintained that simply isn't the case — that they only took their relationship to the next level long after he separated from the "Kill Bill" star in 2003. "The truth is [that] by the time Ryan and I were falling in love, it had been a long while since I had employed her," he later insisted to The Guardian. In spite of their denials, Ethan and Ryan are often listed among Hollywood's biggest "nanny scandals."
In 2008, Shania Twain discovered that her husband of nearly 15 years, Mutt Lange, was having an affair with her married best friend and longtime assistant, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. How exactly did she find out about the affair? Marie-Anne's husband, Frédéric Thiébaud, clued her in. The country queen was reportedly "devastated" by the news. But this story has a twist: Shania and the former Nestlé exec bonded over their mutual heartbreak, fell in love and tied the knot in 2010. A decade later, the singer called her path to finding love with Frédéric "beautifully twisted." Only in Hollyweird!
When Johnny Depp married Amber Heard in early 2015, it was kind of a big deal for several reasons. First of all, the duo, who are 23 years apart in age, had been together for just a few years when they exchanged vows. In comparison, Johnny and Vanessa Paradis — who's widely beloved by the A-lister's fans — were together for 14 years and had two children without ever tying the knot. (There were also questions about the timeline and whether or not the two relationships overlapped.) Ultimately, Amber filed for divorce after just 16 months of marriage. Since then, she and Johnny have accused each other of a wide array of abuse. Regardless of who's to blame, one thing is clear: Their marriage was incredibly toxic.
In June 2020 — just two months before they wed — "Sister, Sister" alum Marques Houston was forced to publicly defend his romance with his much younger bride-to-be, Miya Dickey, who's nearly 20 years his junior: He denied rumors that he and the 19-year-old beauty started seeing each other when she was still a minor, insisting that they "didn't start dating until she was an adult." The rumors kicked off when fans spotted a credit on Miya's IMDb profile that implies she and Marques worked together — and therefore knew each other — much earlier than they've previously stated. "The fact that she was listed on one of our films was a misprint or someone being messy. Anyone can post on IMDb. And there's no way someone that young could even work on a film set in the position of Art Director because that position requires years of experience," the actor wrote on Instagram, maintaining that he met Miya in 2018 through a mutual friend.