When Cupid’s arrow hits, sometimes you just have to act fast, right? For some stars, that meant getting engaged while they were still married to someone else. Yeah, it’s a morally ambiguous subject, to say the least, and one guaranteed to land celebs in a sea of criticism. The new flames aren’t left out of the crossfire either, with the public sometimes pointing their accusatory fingers at these alleged « homewreckers. » Angelina Jolie, for example, has been looked at as the « other woman » numerous times — even before wooing Brad Pitt so many years ago!
More often than not, celebs who decide to jump ship and run into the arms of their new lover will parade around Hollywood quite publicly — as the odds of getting caught sneaking around are quite high. Who can forget Kristen Stewart crushing every teen’s real-life Twilight dream when she cheated on Robert Pattinson with married film director, Rupert Sanders?
Read on to find out who ditched his spouse without even uttering a word, who chalked up her affair to « just having fun, » and who ended a marriage with a text. We guarantee you won’t be able to resist reading the dirt we dug up on some of Hollywood’s most beloved stars.
Loving Liz Taylor was a tall order
Elizabeth Taylor (above right) was a notorious maneater with a total of eight marriages under her belt. Among her marital scandals, she even had her fifth union start off as an affair. According to the Daily Mail, Taylor met Richard Burton (above left) on the set of Cleopatra, while she was still married to crooner Eddie Fisher — and while Burton was married to Sybil Burton. Openly parading around their affair throughout the two-and-a-half-year film shoot, it’s hard to imagine how they did it with Fisher around — the singer actually put his own career on hold to be with Taylor in Rome while she shot her film. However, Fisher refused to believe Taylor was unfaithful, telling reporters at a press conference that the rumors were « preposterous, ridiculous, and absolutely false. »
When the truth of the affair became unavoidable, Fisher didn’t take it well. He allegedly pointed a gun at Taylor’s head, but couldn’t go through with the act, lamenting, « I’m not going to kill you. You’re too beautiful. » At least, that’s how Taylor remembered it years later (per the Daily Mail).
After divorcing their respective partners during the remainder of the film shoot, Taylor and Burton got married on March 15th, 1964, which CBS News reported was « nine days after Taylor’s divorce from Fisher. » With everything happening so quickly, we would assume their engagement occurred while Taylor was still finalizing her divorce from Fisher.
Extra! Extra! Read all about Bennifer’s alleged affair!
The only good thing to come out of the box-office flop Gigli was the romance between Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck — a highly publicized whirlwind of a relationship that started off as an alleged affair. Still married to Cris Judd, Lopez met Affleck while they were filming and the duo immediately hit it off. Before she even filed for divorce from Judd, Affleck had already taken out an ad in The Hollywood Reporter (via The New York Times) where he openly gushed about Lopez. In addition to describing her « beauty in courage, » « true grace » and « real poise, » the actor signed off the ad by writing, « It has been nothing but an honor and a pleasure to work with you. I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies.”
Clearly, love does cost a thing, and Lopez filed for divorce from Judd in July of 2002. Already, in October, the singer was spotted with a new 6.1-carat diamond ring, before her divorce was even finalized in June.
Although JLo and Affleck never married, which they ultimately chalked up to excessive media scrutiny of their relationship, we’ll still always have his fantastic cameo in her « Jenny from the Block » music video.
Britney was ‘just having fun’ with another woman’s fiancé
Pop star Britney Spears’ bizarre relationship with her backup dancer Kevin Federline had an especially messy start, considering Federline was still engaged to a pregnant Shar Jackson when he met Spears. Yikes. The duo got acquainted during Spears’ 2000 tour, but the romance didn’t blossom until April of 2004. Although they were photographed everywhere together at the time, a source close to Spears told People (via Entertainment Weekly) that the pop star was « just having fun. »
By the end of that month, Jackson openly spoke with People (via EW) about her then-fiancé’s affair, saying Spears knew what she was doing. « It was like breaking up a family, » Jackson noted. Still, nothing stopped the pair, and they soon began shooting what would later go on to become their reality TV show, Chaotic, according to MTV‘s timeline of the relationship.
By July, Spears confirmed her engagement to Federline just days before Jackson gave birth to his second child, Kaleb. While the happy couple proceeded to openly gush about one another to the press before and after their marriage, it all ended just over two years later when Spears filed for divorce. In a final, bizarre twist of fate, it was Jackson who seemed to have the last laugh, as she would go on to allegedly date Spears’ first husband, Jason Alexander, who famously married Spears in a 55-hour marriage in Las Vegas.
Laura Dern ‘never heard’ from Billy Bob Thornton again
Who would have thought Angelina Jolie was the alleged « other woman » once before the entire Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston debacle? In what’s probably the cruelest case of unceremoniously ditching your significant other, Billy Bob Thornton reportedly got hitched to his Pushing Tin co-star without even telling his live-in girlfriend, Laura Dern. Granted, this is another slight exception to our « married to other people » categorization, but it sure seemed like Dern thought she was in a committed relationship.
In May 2000 the whole world was stunned to hear that the Oscar-winning actor married Jolie in Vegas. Dern apparently had no idea. The actress recalled to Talk magazine (via ABC News), « I left our home to work on a movie, and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again. »
In a chaotic whirlwind of a relationship, Thornton and Jolie were known to be extreme. From wearing vials of the other’s blood around their necks, trading underwear, to this makeout sesh mid-interview, the two were crazy about one another. Calling it quits in 2002, the pair divorced, with Thornton telling reporters neither of them knew why they split. Much how Dern was left in the dust a little over two years prior, it turns out nobody understood what exactly happened.
Tori Spelling knows what goes around comes around
A relationship that starts on the basis of cheating is sure to have some turbulence later on, right? Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott met in Ottawa while filming TV movie, Mind Over Murder. In a double whammy of infidelity, McDermott was still married at the time to his wife of over a decade, Mary Jo Eustace, while Spelling was still legally married to Charlie Shanian. In spite of that, the co-stars hit it off so well they actually hooked up the first night they met.
A few months later, McDermott proposed to Spelling at a romantic Christmas tree farm on Christmas Eve. Riding in a horse-drawn carriage, the actor presented her with a diamond and sapphire ring. « It was so magical. All the stars aligned. I have never been happier in my life, » McDermott gushed to People at the time. Less than a month after Spelling finalized her divorce to Shanian, and the lovebirds got married on May 7th, 2006.
Since then, the pair has suffered even more drama after tying the knot. From financial issues to McDermott also checking into rehab, the couple hasn’t had it easy. They were even met with an affair yet again — this time with McDermott cheating on Spelling. She would later explain on her reality TV show, True Tori (via In Touch) that she had a « hard time » blaming Dean — given the circumstances of how they initially met.
Surprise! You’re at Marc Anthony’s wedding. Again.
According to People, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony « dated briefly » before he married Miss Puerto Rico, Dayanara Torres, in a surprise wedding in Vegas that he orchestrated « the day before. »
However, the Puerto Rican beauty should have been wary of Anthony’s impulsive nature. Flying the coop in 2004, the singer was already seen out with Jenny from the block before he even officially divorced Torres. Suddenly, merely days after finalizing his divorce, Anthony married Lopez in yet another secret ceremony in June of 2004. The guests allegedly didn’t even know what was happening, with a source telling People it « was a surprise. » The world was surprised, too, since the marriage happened before JLo even publicly acknowledged she was linked to the « Vivir Mi Vida »crooner.
Torres stayed silent throughout her ex-husband’s romance, deciding to take the high road. She would only speak out years later in 2008, telling People she « cried day and night, » adding, « I dreamed of finding my prince, but it doesn’t always happen that way. » It didn’t happen that way for JLo either, as she split from Anthony seven years later.
Alicia Keys wasn’t ‘fallin’ for Swizz Beatz right away
Rapper Swizz Beatz knew Alicia Keys years before he decided to leave his wife Mashonda Tifrere for the « Fallin » songstress, but it wasn’t love at first sight. « Honestly, I didn’t really like him that much, » Keys told Marie Claire (via Us Weekly). Although they began dating in 2008 while Swizz was still legally married to Tifrere, it clearly took him a while to woo Keys, who, during their first encounter, found him « ostentatious » and « annoying. »
Nevertheless, the rapper managed to whisk her away, and proposed to her in May 2010, the same month he finalized his divorce from Tifrere. To add even more fuel to the fire, the couple announced they were pregnant with their first child, causing Tifrere to confront Keys on Twitter (via Vibe) a few months later. The feud came after Keys made a cryptic post allegedly about her beau. « [In] love, is it better to go [for] the choice that is smart or the choice that has spark? » Tifrere wasn’t impressed, shooting back with, « My concern with [Alicia Keys] is no longer the fact that she assisted in destroying a family but that she has the audacity to make these selfish comments about love. »
Swizz and Keys wed in August 2010, and thankfully, his ex and his new wife managed to squash their beef to make their blended family work. As Tifrere explained to People, « Time has a way of healing things. »
Nancy Barbato’s spaghetti was no match for Ava Gardner
When Nancy Barbato married Frank Sinatra in 1939, she was already a pro at « fending off [his] female admirers, » according to The Washington Post. Her husband was such an alleged womanizer, he even got arrested for adultery in 1938. Regardless of his wandering eye, the duo still married, with Barbato doing everything she could to keep him keen. From sewing his bow ties to allegedly making « spaghetti just the way he liked, » Mrs. Sinatra was truly a keeper.
As Sinatra grew more popular, he expanded his repertoire to film and didn’t even hide his romantic encounters with Hollywood stars such as Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. In 1943, however, he briefly met actress Ava Gardner (above), and by 1949, the duo began their torrid love affair. Not doing much to hide their relationship, Gardner eventually demanded Sinatra leave his wife, and although she initially refused, granted him a divorce in 1951. A week later, the blue-eyed crooner married the Hollywood femme fatale, according to Anthony Uzarowski, the author who chronicled Gardner’s life in his book, Ava: A Life in Movies. Speaking with Fox News, Uzarowski said the scandalous affair « certainly hurt Frank’s reputation. »
Although his marriage to Gardner also ended after six short years, Sinatra remained on good terms with his first wife, still coming around for family dinners, and the occasional, secret, late-night phone call.
Kelsey Grammer has a way with text messages
Frasier actor Kelsey Grammer was married to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Camille Grammer when he met Kayte Walsh (above), a flight attendant, in December of 2009. After she served the actor during a flight to England, the duo had what Kelsey described to Jimmy Kimmel (via the Daily Mail) as « a magical night » together in London, sparking a six-month-long affair. To make matters worse, Kelsey then allegedly hid the illicit dalliance until he ended his marriage with a text that simply read, « I don’t want to be married anymore. » Ouch!
By December 2010 the Kelsey and Kayte were engaged — before he and Camille even finalized their divorce. As soon as he got the papers signed, however, the Cheers star wed again on February 25th, 2011 — just 15 days after his divorce.
Finally, in 2012, Kelsey came clean and apologized to his ex-wife, telling Anderson Cooper on Anderson Live (via Daily Mail) that he « regrets lying to Camille. » After watching the cringe-worthy debacle play out on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the actor called the situation « uncomfortable » for all three parties involved. Kayte also later told Oprah (via ABC News) that she was « not proud of the way we started out, because [Kelsey] was in a marriage. »
But don’t worry, because Kelsey’s on a short leash these days (via Conan), thanks to the tattoo Kayte made him get — her name right on his « pubic region. »
Mariah Carey got divorced and broke an engagement at the same time
Although Mariah Carey split from hubby Nick Cannon sometime in the winter or spring of 2014, the duo didn’t finalize their divorce until November 2016, taking time to support one another and successfully co-parent their two kids, twins Monroe and Moroccan. The two were on such good terms, in fact, that the Drumline actor even went on the Meredith Vieira Show (via Us Weekly) to give audiences insight on how they were making things work for their children. « We’ve always been people who are kinda on the go … so their life hasn’t changed one bit, » he then added, « We spend holidays together, we do everything that we’re supposed to do together. »
So, it’s not a shocker that Cannon didn’t mind when his estranged wife started dating businessman James Packer over a year later in June 2015. Initially having met at a movie premiere in Aspen, Packer and Carey hit it off and proceeded to date until he popped the question in January of 2016. No wonder the « Heartbreaker » songbird said yes, as the billionaire presented her with a whopping 35-carat diamond ring, which Carey later joked to E! News was so heavy, she could « barely lift [her] arm up. »
However, as it turns out, money can’t buy you marital bliss, and the two lovebirds called off their engagement before Carey could even finalize her divorce from Cannon.