45 Iconic Golden Age On-Screen DuosBy Doreen R
The golden era of Hollywood is a period of time that most of today’s youth can’t even imagine. For many, it was a magical time where studios and publicity departments orchestrated onscreen duos that ignited on the screen. In a time when no social media or intrusive photographers documenting each and every step, there was a mystery about actors that don’t exist today. The only details we got on the stars’ private lives is what the studio allowed us to know. Homosexuality was common in Hollywood, but not outside the studio gates. Rugged and handsome Rock Hudson was forced to marry his agent to appear more masculine, even though he was known to have boyfriends and regular hookups within the studio’s confines. Then there are the onscreen couples who simply lit up the screen; whether it was sexual chemistry or full-on hatred of one another, we couldn’t get enough. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were sworn enemies, but watching the two of them in ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ was a thrill for viewers.
Bogie and Bacall
Husband and wife Humphry Bogard and Lauren Bacall starred in four films together. Fans couldn’t get enough of this electric couple, whether on screen or off. The two met when Bacall was cast against the mega movie star in the 1944 film ‘To Have and Have Not.’ The two were so right on-screen and off, and they refused to be apart, even though Bogart was married at the time.
The studios were quick to hide the torrid love affair, but eventually, there was no denying that these two had to be together. The two also lit up the screen in such classics as ‘Key Largo,’ and ‘The Big Sleep.’ Although Bogart was 25 years older than the model/actress, they did get married in 1945. The duo was together till his death in 1957, and the short marriage also produced two children.
Liz and Dick
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were known simply as Liz and Dick. These two were so into each other; they got married twice! The two met on the set of the 1963 film ‘Cleopatra.’ Both were married to others during the filming, which initially took place in Rome. The attraction between the two was immediate and undeniable, and they were quick to act on their feelings.
The two loved and fought with insane intensity, and the world couldn’t get enough of this couple. Struggling with alcoholism during the filming, Taylor was nearby to steady Burton’s shaking hands while filming scenes together. The two quickly left their spouses, and they were hitched in 1964. They had a rocky but passionate love connection; however, things got so bad that they divorced in 1974. In 1975 they realized they were still in love and couldn’t be apart; they gave marriage another try. Sadly the 2nd union didn’t last either, and they divorced again in 1976.
Cary Grant and Sophia Loren
When Italian bombshell Sophia Loren co-starred with Cary Grant in the 1957 film ‘The Pride and the Passion,’ you had to be blind not to notice the sparks between the two. At the time, Grant was twice Loren’s age and married, but he still made his feelings known. Sophia claims in her memoir that a strong friendship developed between the two, and Grant wanted to take things further.
Loren was in love wish Carlo Ponti at the time and, although immensely attracted to Grant, she had no intentions of cheating. Loren goes on to claim that Grant proposed to her, but she turned him down. The two appeared in ‘Houseboat’ in 1958, and the chemistry was still brewing between the two, both on and off-screen. While researching the couple, one finds multiple resources that allude to an affair and just as many that concur with Loren’s version. It looks like we’ll never know for sure.
Doris Day and Rock Hudson
These two actors got together to film the 1959 classic ‘Pillow Talk,’ and a great union emerged. The two were so good together on the big screen that they teamed up for more films, including ‘Lover Come Back,’ and ‘Send Me No Flowers.’ Rumors of them hooking up was in the air at the time, but they didn’t date or have an affair. At the time, only studio insiders and a handful of actors were aware that Hudson was gay. Day and Hudson quickly became close friends.
Doris kept Rock’s secret until it became public knowledge. In 1985 the world was stunned to learn that the rugged actor was not only gay but was battling AIDS. Doris was at his side when he announced his secret to the world. Hudson passed away from AIDS in October 1985 at the age of 59. Day lived to the ripe age of 97 and passed away in 2019.
Abbott and Costello
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello started in radio before making it in films and television. This comedic duo was extremely popular from the 1940s to the 1950s. At one time, they were highest-paid comics in the biz. Their classic ‘Who’s on First?’comedy routine is pure genius and still gets referenced some 70 years later.
While they were riding the gravy train for a considerable amount of time, like all good things, this came to an end. Once the demand for the duo slowed, the friendship and partnership took a hit as well. The two officially split in 1957, and they didn’t speak to each other or work together again.
Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart
Ultimately one of the greatest love stories ever to hit the big screen. This classic premiered in 1942 and is still enjoyed to this day. The final scene where Rick and Ilsa are embracing at the airport is an image nearly every human has seen at one point or another.
Nearly 80 years have passed, but we still hold out hope that Bogart’s character Rick will get on the plane with Bergman’s Ilsa and ride off into the sunset together. The final line of the movie wraps it up nicely when Rick is walking through the fog and says, ‘This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.’
Burns and Allen
Married couple George Burns and Gracie Allen were known simply as ‘Burns and Allen.’ This comedic duo entertained audiences for more than 40 years. They got their start in Vaudeville and radio but quickly made the leap into films and television. Their hit radio show ‘The Burns and Allen Show,’ was a staple from 1933 to 1950.
The show was eventually brought to television and centered around the married couple’s life. Burns’s timing was always spot on and he knew the right moment to break character and speak to the audience. Due to fear of performing and health issues, Allen retired from the stage in 1958, but Burns kept the act going. He had a list of actresses portraying the wife’s role, but they couldn’t recreate the magic of Burns and Allen and the show was eventually canceled.
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford
These two superstars appeared in the romantic drama “The Way We Were” in 1973. Portraying Katie and Hubbell, they were two total opposites coming together during WWII. The two ignited the screen when they appeared together and the film was a hit.
More than 45 years have passed since the film premiered, but the story is as relevant today as it was then. The politically divisive opinions of the main characters can easily be adapted to today’s culture. Although we’re not proponents of re-booting classic films, this one might be something to consider.
Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal
‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ We all remember that line from the 1970 film ‘Love Story,’ starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. Although their love story was doomed, the film lives on in our hearts forever. No matter how many times we watch this beautiful couple on screen, we keep hoping they’ll have their happy ending.
The two actors were great together on screen but never took it further than that. The two remained friends and in 2015 they took the stage together to star in ‘Love Letters.’ The two did reunite for a joint interview on Oprah in 2010 to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary and fans were elated at seeing Jenny and Oliver together again.
Lucy and Ricky
Believe it or not, when the married Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz came to the networks with the premise of ‘I Love Lucy,’ it was a hard sell. No one believed that anyone would tune in to watch this couple. They didn’t think viewers would believe Lucy married a foreigner. Boy, were they wrong.
This show premiered in 1951 and was an instant smash, winning numerous awards. This duo could do no wrong for many years. They were everyone’s favorite couple on-screen and off. While the Ricardos will live on forever, sadly, the Arnazes didn’t fare so well. The two divorced in 1961.
Joan Crawford and Bette Davis
Both were considered major movie stars, both won Oscars for their performances, and both hated the other immensely. Whether it was jealousy or insecurity, we’ll never know, what we do know is when these two appeared in ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ in 1962 the screen came alive. Both women were at difficult times in their careers and struggling to remain relevant in Hollywood.
This film catapulted the aging stars back into filmgoers’ hearts, and they were back on top for a little while longer. The rivalry between the two actresses mimicked their onscreen characters, and fans couldn’t get enough. Gossip columns were full of juicy stories about how much the actresses disliked each other. In 2017 Ryan Murphy revived their story in ‘The Feud,’ which gave an inside look at the duo’s troubled relationship.
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field
Field and Reynolds met in 1977 on the set of ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’ The two quickly became one of the more talked-about couples in Hollywood. The duo starred in 5 films together, but it’s in their private life where most of the drama occurred. Reynolds was at the height of his career when he got together with Field.
While Reynolds claimed that Field was the love of his life, the actress has a different version. While the two were the perfect couple on screen, the reality was a different story. She blames his fame, inflated ego, and controlling personality as the reasons for their split.
Martin and Lewis
Crooner Dean Martin and comedian Jerry Lewis were arguably the best comedy team ever. In 1945 the two got together and began performing in Atlantic City. The talented duo was gaining fans, and the studios saw their potential. They quickly made it big in film and television. They were commonly referred to as ‘Martin and Lewis.’
They appeared in 16 films together, and while the two had little in common when they were performing together, there was no stopping them. The duo had a falling out some 10 years into their act, and they didn’t speak for nearly 20 years. Although they tried to revive the act, they were never able to recapture the original magic they had in the beginning. They did resume their friendship in 1987 and remained in contact until Dean passed away in 1995
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher
This married duo played opposite each other in ‘Bundle of Joy’ in 1956. The couple seemed solid and steady. The two were married from 1955 to 1959 and were parents to Carrie and Todd. The duo was a popular couple on the Hollywood scene. Debbie’s career was taking off, and Fisher’s musical career was in full swing. Fisher had 17 songs in the top 10 during the 1950s.
Reynolds met Elizabeth Taylor on the studio lot, and they became friends. When Taylor married 3rd husband Mike Todd, Fisher and Reynolds were around, and soon enough, they were a regular foursome enjoying the good life. All that changed in 1958 when Todd was killed in a plane accident, and Fisher was on hand to console the new widow.
Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher
The two appeared together in ‘Butterfield 8,’ but it was their personal life that had tongues wagging. Believe it or not, this duo was the original ‘Brangelina.’ Fisher walked away from doting wife Debbie into the waiting arms of Elizabeth Taylor, and the world was divided. There were two clear teams ‘Team Debbie’ and ‘Team Liz.’ In 1958 Taylor lost her 3rd husband Mike Todd in a plane accident, and Fisher was there to pick up the pieces.
Fisher went on to become husband number four in 1959, leaving Debbie and their children betrayed and stunned. The gossip columnists were quick to label Taylor as a homewrecker. But Karma played her hand, and Taylor and Fisher divorced in 1964. The divorce was the result of when Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with her ‘Cleopatra’ co-star Richard Burton.
Gable and Lombard
Clarke Gable and Carole Lombard earned the nickname ‘Gable and Lombard’ early on. The two acting legends came together in 1932 in the film ‘No Man of Her Own.’ Sparks flew then and there, and there was no stopping this couple. Both were married to others when they met, but claim they were unhappy. At the time, the couple finished filming and walked away from each other. They did reunite four years later at an industry event.
The two began flirting, and it quickly turned into one of the greatest love connections. The two couldn’t keep their hands off each other and were madly in love. By 1939, Gable was filming ‘Gone With the Wind,’ and when there was a break in filming, the two eloped in Arizona. Sadly they were only married three years when Lombard died in a tragic plane crash in 1942.
Grace Kelly and Cary Grant
This couple sizzled on the screen in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘To Catch a Thief.’ Despite rumors to the contrary, this couple remained good friends, and it didn’t go any further. Kelly went on to marry Prince Ranier of Monaco and retired from acting.
Grant would remain in touch with Kelly and visit her in Monaco on occasion. Prince Ranier recounts the visits were welcome and enjoyed by all, even though they were sprinkled with dirty jokes spoken in front of their young children. Until his death in 1986, Grant maintained that Kelly was his favorite leading actress.
Clark Gable and Joan Crawford
This duo was so right together on camera that they appeared in a whopping eight films together. The actress was already a major movie star when Gable was signed to a one year contract at MGM. The two appeared in ‘Dancing Lady’ and ‘Love on the Run’, among others.
The two were quick to see if their onscreen chemistry translated off-screen as well, and it did. Their affair was public knowledge to studio insiders but not welcomed. Both were married at the time, and studio heads threatened them to either break it off or lose their jobs. The two only cooled it when Gable married the love of his life, Carole Lombard.’ Crawford was jealous of Lombard and tried to undermine their relationship. After Lombard died in 1942, Gable and Crawford resumed their affair.
Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando
Film buffs have most likely seen the 1954 classic ‘On the Waterfront’ and agree it’s one of the best films of all time. The chemistry between Terry and Edie is palpable. What many don’t know is that this was Eva’s film debut, and she won the Oscar for best supporting actress. In fact, the film garnered an impressive eight Academy Awards.
In an interview, the actress spoke of the audition process, describing the moment she and Brando first met, ‘sparks just flew.’ Brando, a student of the acclaimed Lee Strassberg, was and is still considered one of the greatest actors ever, and watching this film, it’s easy to see why that status continues.
Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen
These two made a lasting impression both on and off-screen. The two starred in the action-packed film ‘The Getaway,’ in 1972. Their chemistry was so electric that two ended up hooking up and getting married in 1973. McGraw admits she was attracted to McQueen’s bad boy image. McGraw was interviewed several years ago and described her tumultuous relationship with McQueen as ‘chemical.’
McGraw asserts the marriage was filled with good and bad times, and she regrets not trying harder to make the relationship work. The actress became sober nearly 33 years ago and is happier away from Hollywood, although she does treasure the experiences she gained from her short but substantial career.
Laurel and Hardy
This comic duo was comprised of Brit Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy, aka Laurel and Hardy. The pair used their physical differences to create their unique brand of humor. The two were geniuses of slapstick comedy that ruled from the 1920s to the 1940s. The two had much success in film with classics such as ‘Way Out West’ and ‘Babes in Toyland.’
Between 1921 and 1951, the two appeared in 106 films together. Unlike many other duos, these two truly liked one another and were dear friends the entire time. When Hardy passed in 1957, Laurel refused to perform again. The duo’s legacy is remembered long after they stopped acting, and much of it must be due to their long-lasting admiration of each other.
Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows
Fans of classic comedies always smile when they think of Ralph and Alice Cramden from the ‘Honeymooners.’ Surprisingly the show only lasted one season and had 39 episodes, which are still rerun on various cable outlets. Tip, if you come across it, watch it.
The premise of the show was based on comedian Jackie Gleason’s comedy act, and it’s pure genius. Shows that have tried to copy the idea may have had some success like ‘King of Queens,’ but ‘The Honeymooners’ is a classic and needs to be appreciated for what it gave the world. ‘The Flintstones’ cartoon series came close to capturing the humor of bus driver Ralph and his loving wife, Alice.
James Dean and Natalie Wood
Before there was ‘American Pie’ and ‘Breakfast Club,’ there was ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’ This teen angst drama starring bad boy James Dean and up and coming young starlet Natalie Wood who lit up the screen as Jim and Judy. The premise of the film was akin to ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ only in 1950s America with troubled youth from middle-class families.
Many don’t know that Wood and Dean weren’t even considered for the film. The actress only got the part after a car accident with the film’s other star Dennis Hopper. If you can believe it, the film was supposed to star Elizabeth Taylor and Tab Hunter. Taylor got pregnant, so casting started again, and that’s how Dean won the role. Hard to imagine another couple portraying anguished lovers Jim and Judy.
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Like bread and butter, Fred and Ginger just go together. This dancing duo has left their mark on the film world in a way few have. Few know this, but after the pair first appeared in the 1933 film ‘Flying Down to Rio,’ Astaire wasn’t interested in working with her again.
Fred wanted to be known as an actor rather than a dancer and felt that teaming up again with Ginger might damage his career. Thankfully he was very wrong. The two danced into our hearts in 10 films including ‘Shall We Dance?’ and ‘Top Hat.’ While the two appeared in films without the other, when they were together it was magic and the audience couldn’t get enough.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
This talented and attractive couple not only starred in 11 productions together they also had one of the more stable marriages in Hollywood. The couple was married for over 50 years. The two first acted together in the 1958 film ‘The Long Hot Summer,’ and it was evident to all that their attraction was off the charts.
The couple met in 1953, and Newman said it was love and first sight, while Woodward wasn’t bowled over by the handsome actor’s intense blue eyes. Once they started working together, she started feeling differently. The couple ran off to Las Vegas to get married in 1958, and they had their Hollywood ending.
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
This couple appeared in eight films together, including ‘Girl Crazy’ and ‘Babes in Arms.’ The two were so in sync on-screen that gossip columnists were quick to label them an off-screen duo as well. The studios and publicists created this twosome, and it worked for a while. The two were great friends in real life, but nothing more.
The two were a popular singing and dancing duo, but they were more suited to be friends than lovers. Rooney had a wandering eye and had a slew of girlfriends. Garland, who went on to star in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ had a troubled childhood as well as addiction issues. She was married five times and died of a drug overdose in 1969 at the age of 47.
Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman
Ok, we admit it, this is not the usual sizzling screen duo we’re used to talking about. But let’s remember it was 1967, the term Cougar wasn’t yet a thing, and ‘The Graduate’ hit the theaters. The plot of the movie is simple: Hoffman’s character Ben is in love with Elaine Robinson, daughter of Bancroft’s character Mrs. Robinson.
Mrs. Robinson is in an unhappy marriage and is looking for some attention. She seduces young Ben, and he’s not crying about being hit on by the attractive older woman. Interesting trivia, in real life, there’s only a 6 year age difference between Bancroft and Hoffman, not so icky anymore, right? While some still wonder what happened to Ben and Elaine, we’re here to discuss duos that made an impact on the screen. Needless to say, Mrs. Robinson and Ben made the cut.
Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman
When Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t shocking the world with her love life, she was heating up the screen. In 1958 she starred opposite Paul Newman in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ and the screen sizzled with the two accomplished stars. During the filming, Taylor had lost 3rd husband Mike Todd, in a plane crash. According to Newman, Taylor used the film as therapy, and she continued filming.
Taylor herself said that playing Maggie the Cat saved her from spiraling into a deep depression. While Taylor was often judged more for her looks and personal life, her acting in this film was top notch. Critics and moviegoers agreed, the film was a hit, and Newman and Taylor both gave excellent performances.
Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner
These two were the ‘it’ couple in Hollywood during the 1950s. Both were attractive and talented and working hard to succeed in Hollywood. They were married in 1957 but had a tumultuous relationship from the start. The two managed to control their temper and work together on the 1960 film ‘The Fine Young Cannibals.’ The two looked good together on screen and off, but they still weren’t working well together.
The couple divorced in 1962. They went their separate ways, married other people, had kids, but felt they were missing something. The two remarried in 1972, and this time around it stuck, sort of. The couple were happily married and working on their careers, but that came to a sad end in 1981 when Natalie fell off the couple’s boat and drowned in Catalina. She was only 43 years old.
Natalie Wood and Richard Beymar
Everyone fell in love with Natalie Wood when she appeared opposite Richard Beymar in the 1961 classic ‘West Side Story.’ The love story between ill-fated lovers Maria and Tony is a modern-day take on ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ only this takes place in New York. And, instead of warring families, we see dancing gangs.
The film was a huge success and launched Wood’s career into orbit. Although she was criticized for having her singing dubbed by singer Marni Dixon, she was praised for her acting and stage presence. The film went on to win 10 Oscars, and the love story between Maria and Tony will live on in our hearts forever.
Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland
Legendary Hollywood icons Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland starred in an impressive eight films together. The two were unforgettable in classics such as ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ and ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’ The duo lit up the screen and filled the theater seats from 1935 to 1941.
The duo looked so compatible on-screen, that no one believed the couple wasn’t dating or involved. The actress swore till her death at 104 that she and Flynn were never more than good friends. She did admit that they fell in love, but due to Flynn’s personal issues, they were never able to follow through on their feelings.
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard
Critics and moviegoers agree that ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a classic that will never go away. The relationship between Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly and Peppard’s Paul Varjak wasn’t your ordinary love story. Although the usually introverted Hepburn found it a challenge to play the extrovert Holly, she was nominated for an Academy Award for this role.
The film worked because of the many differences between the two stars. Peppard was a trained Method actor, and Hepburn acted from instinct, which may have caused some clashes during filming. Whether you thought they clicked or not, the film is a classic that’s beloved by many nearly 60 years later, not too shabby. The two remained good friends long after filming and were in touch until Hepburn’s passing in 1993.
Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor
These two lit up the screen in ‘Giant’ and ‘The Mirror Cracked.’ Sure, we all now know that Hudson was hiding his sexual orientation during his career, but the chemistry between Taylor and the actor was undeniable. The two appeared in the big-budget film ‘Giant,’ alongside James Dean, and it was epic. From stories from the set, it was more like a family reunion than a film set.
There were tales of late-night drinking and card games and diva-like behavior from the legendary Taylor herself. The result on the screen was worth all the fuss on the set because to watch Hudson and Taylor on the film together is like going back in time when movies were indeed an escape from reality. If you haven’t seen this film yet, you’re missing out.
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift
Taylor and Clift starred in three films together, but their most memorable has to be the 1951 classic ‘A Place in the Sun.’ The two made the screen come to life when they appeared together. But Taylor was aware of Clift’s dark secret, he was gay in Hollywood, and that wasn’t acceptable back in the 1950s.
She kept his secret and remained one of his closest confidants. The brooding Method actor was a star when their film hit the big screen, but he still couldn’t let his true self out. The actor struggled with drugs and alcohol to dull the pain of having to live a lie. The actor died at the age of 46 of a heart attack.
Al Pacino and Diane Keaton
From writing this article, it’s interesting to find out that Diane Keaton has a certain charisma that most men fall for. That’s the only explanation we can come up with. Take Pacino and Keaton, who starred opposite each other in three ‘Godfather’ installments. Their onscreen compatibility translated off the screen, and the two were involved for years.
Much like their doomed relationship in the ‘Godfather,’ these two didn’t last in real life either. They split up around the time of Godfather III when Pacino refused to marry Keaton. Keaton has had many long term relationships with her leading men, but they never resulted in marriage. The Oscar-winning actress never married but did adopt two children.
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
Hard to understand it, but it’s a fact, Woody Allen could date nearly any A-list actress he wanted. He had a long term romance with his muse and sometimes co-star Diane Keaton. The two worked on several films together, including Radio Days and Annie Hall for which Keaton won an Oscar.
When the two appeared on screen, they may not have had the effect that say- Angelina and Brad had, but there was still something to this quirky yet talented couple. When on-screen, the two just seemed to click and make sense, which explains why this duo worked off-screen too. And, let’s be clear, there aren’t that many Brad, and Angelinas out there, we’re just saying.
Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty
Yup, Keaton’s again made this list, and now it’s with Warren Beatty. These two appeared in the 1981 film ‘Reds,’ and no one was surprised when the onscreen couple became a duo in real life. The film was a moderate success, and both were praised for their contributions.
The romance that emerged from the film garnered more press than the plot of the movie. And that’s why this duo made this list. While the love didn’t last long, Beatty made a lasting impression on Keaton, who praises the actor’s charisma and talent nearly 40 years later.
Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
These two were Hollywood gold on-screen and off. The two lit up the screen with their presence and fantastic acting. They shone in classics such as ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ and ‘Adam’s Rib.’ The two were a couple in real life too, although the studios did what they could to hide that from the public.
The much older Tracy was married to a devout Catholic, and divorce wasn’t an option. Hepburn was willing to take Tracy anyway she could, even if it meant hiding their relationship. The two appeared in nine films and were together for 26 years, till the actor’s passing in 1967.
Greta Garbo and John Gilbert
Hollywood legends Greta Garbo and John Gilbert not only dazzled on screen, but the two were in love in real life as well. The two starred in five films together, including ‘A Woman of Affairs,’ and ‘Flesh and the Devil.’ When one speaks of Hollywood royalty in the golden era, they usually include Garbo and Gilbert.
These two were major stars in the early years of Hollywood. Garbo is still regarded as one of the greatest actresses of all time. When these two were on screen together, there was no denying their attraction, which is what kept moviegoers coming to their films.
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford
These acting icons appeared in several films together, but one that is fondly remembered has to be the 1967 romantic comedy ‘Barefoot in the Park.’ Chemistry is either there or it isn’t, it can’t be manufactured or manipulated. These two definitely had that special something, and it was apparent in this film.
What’s great about this movie is that it takes two polar opposites and forces them to work together to make the relationship flourish. This acting duo worked so well together that they were paired up successfully again in films like ‘The Electric Horseman,’ and more recently in ‘Our Souls at Night,’ which premiered in 2017. More than 50 years later, the two actors lit up the screen to the delight of their fans.
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke
Some television shows are so iconic they have to be included in this piece. ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ ran from 1961 to 1965. The series made household names out of Van Dyke and Moore, who played husband and wife Rob and Laura Petrie. The premise was simple, he was a comedy writer, and she was a happy housewife, and they were raising a son together. The reason this worked so well is the chemistry between the two stars who just really liked being in each other’s presence.
It was hard not to tune into this feel-good show. The two were so in sync that many suspected something was going on between the two when the cameras stopped rolling. But the truth is the two were just really good friends and just liked each other a lot. They had a 50-year friendship and were always quick to praise the other in interviews.
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
These two were undeniably the most gifted actors of their generation. The two have impressive rosters that include ‘Gone With the Wind,’ and ‘Hamlet,’ yet they only appeared in 3 films together. This couple’s real romance beats anything that any gifted screenwriter could come up with. In 1939 the two appeared in ‘Fire Over England,’ and their chemistry couldn’t be overlooked.
Leigh and Olivier embarked on an affair, which at the time was a scandal, and the studio tried to get the actors to end it. The studios failed, and the two married in 1940. From the start, the marriage was full of drama, passion, breakdowns, miscarriages, and struggles. Letters back and forth between the couple were found long after their deaths and alluded to their commitment and love for each other.
Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were accomplished actors in their own right. No will ever forget Leigh in Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho,’ nor will we forget Curtis in ‘Some Like it Hot.’ But when these two joined forces, there was no stopping them. They were true Hollywood royalty for a little longer than the typical 15 minutes. The two were married for 11 years and starred together in seven films, including ‘Houdini,’ and ‘The Vikings.’.
The two were considered a power couple while they were together, and their union was envied by many. On the screen, they appeared in love and perfect together, but real-life was another story. Curtis had a wandering eye and was caught cheating on Janet. When the couple split, Hollywood took Leigh’s side. Curtis claims his career never recovered when he divorced Leigh
Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster
One of the most famous scenes in movie history is the beach scene in the 1953 film ‘From Here to Eternity.’ The scene involves Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, waves, some rolling in the sand, and a passionate kiss. The scene is epic and unforgettable.
The movie was based on James Jones’s book of the same name, and the scene in the book was much more risque than what we witnessed on screen. But this was the 1950s, and this was as explicit as they could get for the time. This scene stands the test of time, and it’s still as hot as it was in 1953.
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
This duo goes down in the history books as one of the most iconic couples ever. The 1939 film was a blockbuster and made mega-stars out of Gable and Leigh. The actress almost didn’t get the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara and was one of 1,400 actresses that auditioned for the role of a lifetime.
If there were doubts if Leigh was right for the part, the screen test opposite Gable in the role of Rhett Butler sealed the deal. Katherine Hepburn was a serious contender for the role but lost out thanks to Leigh’s accent. The director felt it was better a Brit play the role as opposed to a Yankee.