“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day,
All in the morning bedtime,
And I am maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.” — William Shakespeare in Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5
In the beginning, God created man and his name was Adam. But the Creator observed that he was alone and lonely. So, He allowed the first man to fall asleep and took one of his ribs and formed into a woman (“because she was taken out of man”).
When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he was struck with her beauty. The Bible was silent what happened next but we’re sure Adam courted Eve relentlessly. At the end of the day, he won her heart and so God initiated the first wedding ever recorded. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Today, love, courtship and marriage are still with us. But through times, however, these rituals – if you call them as such – have changed. Let’s start with love. “Love is an ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses,” said Lord Dewar. “To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia,” added humorist Henry L. Mencken.
“To love is to suffer,” said award-winning movie actor and director Woody Allen. “To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you’re getting this down.”
Aside from love, there is such thing as infatuation. “No one can understand love who has not experienced infatuation,” wrote Mignon McLaughlin in The Neurotic’s Notebook. “And no one can understand infatuation, no matter how many times he has experienced it.”
After that, courtship follows. “Men dream of courtship, but in wedlock wake,” Alexander Pope once wrote. This jibes with a proverb that states, “In courtship a man pursues a woman until she catches him.”
“Courtship,” according to Laurence Sterne, “consists in a number of quiet attentions, not so pointed as to alarm, nor so vague as not to be understood.” Or, as an unknown author puts it, “The difference between courtship and marriage is the difference between the pictures in a seed catalog and what comes up.”
When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. But when you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. “That’s relativity,” explained German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
When a girl accepts a man, marriage is in the offing. “Marriage,” said British playwright George Bernard Shaw, “is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.”
That’s funny. This statement, coming from the mouth of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, challenges understanding: “The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through eternity.”
“Never get married in the morning,” advises Paul Hornung, “because you never know who you’ll meet that night.” To which Rita Rudner countered, “I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”
Truth is stranger than fiction, so goes a saying. And it is even more strange with it comes to love. There was this funeral-wedding ceremony which most local people could not forget. The coffin bearing Editha in her wedding gown entered the church as scheduled. Her father was beside the coffin. Ahead was Editha’s godson who acted as ring bearer. The rest of the bridal entourage followed. Waiting at the altar was Tony, a security, who stood at the head of Editha’s coffin as the Protestant pastor officiated.
When it was all over, the glass top of the coffin was lifted. He kissed her on the forehead and the cheek, while those near the coffin flinched at the strong smell of chemicals. The wedding ended. The dirge was played. The funeral started.
Tony spent the night at Editha’s house, describing it as “my honeymoon night.” He said he placed Editha’s tangerine duster close to his chest as he lay remembering their days together. Tony and Editha went steady for several years.
Four days before Editha’s death, they finally set the wedding date for June 28th. And then tragedy struck. Editha had a slight fever and hard time breathing. The town doctor was called who immediately gave her a shot. But she never recovered. She died the following day.
Before she succumbed, she was able to whisper to Tony: “If I die, will the wedding still be held?” Tony confided, “Yes.”
Love comes from the most unexpected places, so goes a line of a song. But for most stars, the first meeting happened on the movie set. That was how Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges met Susan Geston. Rancho Deluxe was filmed on a ranch where Susan was working as a waitress. He fell in love with her but he was having second thought.
His fear of marriage surfaced during an interview with Reader’s Digest in 2006: “I don’t know how it is for women or for other guys, but when I was young and in my 20s, I had a fear of marriage. I thought it was a giant step toward death. So, I did everything in my power to resist it – the idea was frightening to me, man. Then I met Susan in 1974 while I was shooting the film in Montana, up in Paradise Valley at Chico Hot Springs, and I thought, ‘Now, this is interesting.’”
After dating, breaking up and making up, the two lovebirds married on June 5, 1977.
“Till death do us part…” That’s part of the vow a couple takes when they tie the nuptial knot. But some marriages end – even before death. This is especially true when it comes to Hollywood marriages.
Lola van Wagenen dropped out of college in 1958 to marry the then unknown actor named Robert Redford. The two were blessed with four children: Scott Anthony, Shauna Jean, David James and Amy Hart. But 27 years after blissful marriage, the two got divorced in 1985.
Like Redford’s, the 26-year marriage of Kevin Costner to Cindy Silva ended in divorce. Both were dating when they were still in college. They got married in 1978 and divorced in 1994. But before that happened, they have three children: Anne Clayton, Lily McCall and Joseph Tedrick.
Mel Gibson was married to Robyn Denise Moore for 29 years when they finally called it quits. Robyn was a dental nurse when Mel met him for the first time. The two were married in 1980. They were separated as couple in 2006 but it was until in 2009 that Robyn filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences” as the cause.
However, it was only in 2011 that the divorce was finalized; the settlement was said to be the highest in Hollywood history: over US$400 million.
All in all, the couple has seven children: Hannah, Edward, Christian, William, Louis, Milo and Thomas.
But mind you, there are Hollywood marriages that were made in heaven, too. Charles Bronson married English actress Jill Ireland on October 5, 1968 – and they remained a couple until her death in 1990.
The two met in 1962 when she was still married to Scottish actor David McCallum. The two actors were doing a movie entitled The Great Escape. He told David, “I’m going to marry your wife.”
In 1953, Paul Newman met Joanne Woodward. Five years later, he married her. They remained married for fifty years, until his death in 2008. Although one of the most-sought after actors, he was very faithful to his wife. In fact, they starred together in several movies.
At one time, Newman was asked about infidelity, he famously replied, “Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”
If fifty years is a record, wait till you know the marriage of Charlton Heston (yes the actor who appeared in Ten Commandments and earned an Oscar for Ben-Hur). When he died on April 5, 2008, he was married to Lydia for already 64 years.
In the Philippines, perhaps the long-lasting marriage was between the late Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces. They tied the nuptial know on Christmas Day in 1968 when he was 31 and she was 27.
“As far as I was concerned, we were able to adjust easily. I belong to a generation where wives were submissive to their husbands,” Roces told Greggy V. Vera Cruz of People Asia. “Since I had already achieved what I wanted in the career before I got married, I was willing to take one step behind him. FPJ ruled the family. He was the King, but the rules of the Queen must stay and must be followed.”
Roces knew that her husband had other flings. “I love and admire him; and, apparently, there were many of us who did so. But I remain his one and only wife,” said actress who is still appearing in some movies and television series.
Today’s generation may never heard of Barbara Perez and Robert Arevalo but old timers sure do. Their love story started in the 1960s, the time when Hollywood was casting Filipino actors in the movies. Perez was one of those being cast in Man is an Island (1962) which starred Jeffrey Hunter.
Perez was invited to go to Los Angeles for publicity shots to promote the movie. One of those she met while there was the famous Hollywood actor, Cary Grant. “He had a gray suit and a yellow shirt,” she recalled. “I was tongue-tied and could not answer questions except with a yes or a no. He concluded by saying that he hoped I would sign up with the studio for a five-year contract.”
Yes, Perez was offered for a five-year contract with Universal Studios. Arevalo learned about it and so he did the unthinkable: he proposed to hear by sending a telegram. “I didn’t want to call her long-distance because overseas calls were expensive even at that time,” he was quoted as saying. “We were both young and selfish and very much in love.”
Perez rejected the Hollywood contract and instead signed the marriage contract. When she arrived at the airport, Arevalo asked her, “Will you marry me?” To which Perez answered affirmatively. Less than two weeks after that, the two were married in Baguio at the St. Joseph Church.
Indeed, love makes the world go ‘round!