true love

30 Famous Women on Their Greatest Romance

True love in the spotlight is a rare, precious thing. Even more beautiful: when celebrity couples talk about finding it. Below, 30 famous women share the stories behind their greatest romances — on meeting their partners, working to stay together, and for some, loving each other even after they decided to be apart. Scroll to hear from Beyoncé, Yoko Ono, Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, and more below.

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1. Iman on David Bowie
“I had set my sights on Los Angeles with the stated aim of pursuing — what else? — acting. While I did actually manage to make a couple of movies, I ultimately associate the City of Angels with being precisely that. It was here that I met and fell in love with my everlasting soul mate, Mr. David Bowie. Life for me changed fundamentally … David gave me the most exciting, touching, and deliriously loving 24 years. Still, it was not enough — shockingly brief. And although I’ll never get used to losing him, David is nonetheless hiding in plain sight … As for David, I have perfect iman that we’ll be together again. Love doesn’t cease; love reshapes.” —Vogue, August 2017

2. Lily Tomlin on Jane Wagner
On meeting Jane: “It was ’71. … A mutual friend introduced us. As soon as I saw her, I just flipped. She’s very, very pretty. She’s a wonderful person, easy to relate to. Jane is rather introverted, although she has a lot to say! She’s terribly engaging and appealing, so gracious and fun. She’s not like anyone else. We started courting right away.” —Parade, January 2017

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3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Martin D. Ginsburg
“I have had more than a little bit of luck in life, but nothing equals in magnitude my marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. I do not have words adequate to describe my supersmart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse. Early on in our marriage, it became clear to him that cooking was not my strong suit. To the eternal appreciation of our food-loving children, Marty made the kitchen his domain and became chef supreme in our home. Marty coached me through the birth of our son, he was the first reader and critic of articles, speeches and briefs I drafted, and he was at my side constantly, in and out of the hospital, during two long bouts with cancer. And I betray no secret in reporting that, without him, I would not have gained a seat on the Supreme Court.” —The New York Times, October 2016

4. Julia Child on Paul Child
“Without Paul Child, I would not have had my career.” —Town & Country, October 2016

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5. Yoko Ono on John Lennon
“He was the only person who put up with me. It’s difficult for a guy to understand what women are thinking. Most guys don’t even listen. He was very forward-thinking in that sense. He really jumped into feminism, no argument. He would ask me, ‘Could you find feminist groups for me?’ Even now, I don’t think men get together and say, ‘Let’s be feminists.’” —Rolling Stone, March 2016

6. Janet Mock on Aaron Tredwell
“Our story started on the dance floor of a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was 2009, and I was tipsy and twirling when I bumped into Aaron. He was gorgeous — the kind of handsome I’d seen in my mind when I let myself be the girl who can have that, the girl I’d watched on screen so many times in rom-coms that always seemed to end in marriage. Within minutes of our meeting, he invited me for a cup of coffee, and in a nearby fluorescent-lit café, I discovered that he was more than good-looking. He was kind and attentive and had a generous ear. I knew he was my guy, but I was unsure if I’d be his girl … Aaron proposed to me five years later at our home last December. There were no frills and there was no hesitation as he slipped an oval diamond engagement ring with a rose-gold band onto my finger. When I said yes, I had never been more certain about anything. We knew we would have a short engagement and a small wedding near the ocean in my hometown of Oahu, Hawaii.” —Brides, November 2015

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7. Courtney Love on Kurt Cobain
“We were best friends … [it was] that punch-drunk love thing, where you’ve met your soulmate and you’re 25 and you’re just fucking and talking and fighting and fucking. There’s other kinds of love, and more mature kinds of love, but no. It was like a soul mate-y thing.” —USA Today, April 2015

8. Anjelica Huston on Jack Nicholson
“Jack is somebody I’ve adored in my life and will continue to love forever. I don’t take him lightly. As it happens, we had a really lovely conversation on the phone yesterday — a conversation that started off a little bumpy and wound up just completely wonderful. That’s a real relationship. Real relationships have a continuity, and Jack and I have a deep abiding love and affection for each other. I’m proud that we’ve gotten through some very tough times together.” —The Saturday Evening Post, March/April 2013

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9. Alicia Keys on Swizz Beatz
“Honestly, I didn’t really like him that much. I thought he was too ostentatious … Swizz will have the fastest car, the biggest jewelry, the loudest jacket. Everything with him is really over the top. I used to see him and think, ‘He is so annoying.’ … I fought [working with him] tooth and nail. Why should I work with him? Finally, though, we did it and we had a ball … I think we’ve taught each other a lot. He’s taught me to live more fully, and I think I’ve taught him to live more deeply.” —Marie Claire UK, July 2013

10. Jessica Alba on Cash Warren
“When I met my husband, I felt like I had known him my whole life. The day I met him, he was very familiar, and he felt like family.” —Buzzfeed, June 2017

11. Iris Apfel on Carl Apfel:
“[Carl] told my friend that he thought I was very attractive if only I would go and have my nose fixed. So I said, ‘You can tell him to go fly a kite.’ Anyway, some weeks later I came home from work and the phone was ringing off the hook. He said, ‘That was a stunning outfit you were wearing today and I particularly loved your hat’ — he had been on a bus on Fifth Avenue and had seen me on the sidewalk. Anyway, I was very busy and the first date I could give him was about six weeks later on Columbus Day. Thanksgiving he proposed, Christmas I got my ring, Washington’s birthday we married and our honeymoon was over on St Patrick’s Day … [Carl] was very easy and very funny and we just hit it off. First of all he ordered my dinner. I have so many decisions to make all day long that I really don’t want to decide what I have to eat, too. So it was perfect.” —The Telegraph, October 2011

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12. Billie Jean King on Ilana Kloss
“I didn’t have a crush on any of the players. Except Ilana. Ilana was a great player.” —Vanity Fair, September 2008

13. Stevie Nicks on Lindsey Buckingham
“That electric crazy attraction between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks never dies, never will die, never will go away. He’s married, he’s happy, he has three beautiful children that I love. You know, he’s found a good, happy, calm, safe place — but who Lindsey and I are to each other will never change … It’s over. It doesn’t mean the great feeling isn’t there, it must mean that … you know, we’re beauty and the beast. It means that the love is always there but we’ll never be together, so that’s even more romantic.” —MTV, April 2009

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14. Betty White on Allen Ludden
“Once you’ve had the best, who needs the rest? I made two mistakes before Allen, but the love of your life doesn’t come along in every life, so I am very grateful that I found him.” —The Daily Mail, April 2011

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15. Beyoncé on Jay Z
“I would not be the woman I am if I did not go home to that man. It just gives me such a foundation. [He’s helped me] on so many levels. We were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any date. On the phone for a year and a half. And that foundation is so important in a relationship. And just to have someone that you just like, you know, is so important. And someone who is honest.” —Oprah’s Next Chapter, February 2013

16. Samira Wiley on Lauren Morelli
“I found out she was married — I assumed to a woman. It was a little dagger in my heart. I remember this whirlwind of me falling in love in those four days. I was also bartending, and I told my co-workers. They said I was crazy. She went back to L.A., and I thought I’d forget about her, but that Christmas I found myself talking to my mother about it. I never talk to her about anything like this, but I was completely open about how lost I felt. That was the real indicator for me: me talking to my mother about Lauren. Because Lauren was finding out who she was, I became a confidant to her. We’d talk on the phone, me sharing my own coming-out story and her talking about things she was discovering. My parents are pastors, and I have a real sense of the ‘right way’ of doing things, so I was really cognizant of the fact that she was in a relationship. I loved her as a friend first, but after a while it was clear it was more than that … There’s this Sara Bareilles song we love called ‘I Choose You.’ For so long in our relationship, I wasn’t ‘the one.’ I was just waiting and being supportive of Lauren’s journey. To see her embrace her sexual orientation the way she has is like that song: ‘I choose this life as a gay woman, and we choose to spend this life together.’ I think — I know — I would not be where I am without Lauren. When I was first being thrust into the public eye, I wouldn’t talk about my orientation. Being with Lauren taught me self-love.” —OUT, December 2016

17. Helen Mirren on Taylor Hackford
“I was 38 when I met Taylor, pretty late in life. We got married in the end because we realized that we were going to be together forever. We got married, ultimately, for legal reasons more than anything else. Estate planning and other complicated things like that. And our families, we sensed, wanted us to be married. I always said I have nothing against marriage; it just wasn’t to my taste, like turnips. It took me a very long time to come round to acquiring the taste. I just had to meet the right turnip.” —AARP, December 2016/January 2017

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18. Ina Garten on Jeffrey Garten
Her idea of perfect happiness: “Sundays in Paris with Jeffrey. We go to the Sunday market, make a nice lunch, drink a big bottle of Burgundy, and then take a long delicious nap. Heaven.” —Vanity Fair, September 2016

19. Lauren Bacall on Humphrey Bogart
“The early romance was the most romantic experience I have ever had in my life — far surpassing anything I might’ve dreamed of or imagined, it was quite amazing. When you are young and it’s your first love and you are just carried away by it and that’s all you can think about — you see, Bogie was the kind of man who believed in taking care of marriage, in taking care of a relationship. He believed you had to work at it and keep it fresh and fun and interesting, and he did.” —NPR, August 2014

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20. Julianne Moore on Bart Freundlich
Discussing soulmates: “I think that one of the things that you do learn is that falling in love and being in love with someone is a rarity. That you don’t fall in love as many times as you think you’re going to. And then when you do, it’s really special, it’s really important. Maybe it does happen to some people a couple of times, or maybe it is once, but I think you do know and you have to value it, and not just say, yeah, it’ll happen again!” —Collider, July 2011

21. Elizabeth Gilbert on Rayya Elias
“She’s my best friend, yes, but it’s always been bigger than that. She’s my role model, my traveling companion, my most reliable source of light, my fortitude, my most trusted confidante. In short, she is my PERSON. I have spoken about her so many times on this page, and many of you have heard me speak about her in my speeches, too … Anyone who has ever seen us together knows that I am devoted to Rayya. I’ve never made a secret of it. As Ann Patchett said once of our friendship: ‘Your love for Rayya has always been writ large.’” —her Facebook, September 2016

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22. Patti Smith on Robert Mapplethorpe
“I promised Robert on his deathbed that I would write [Just Kids]. I kept notes for it and wrote other pieces for him, like The Coral Sea [W.W. Norton, 1996]. But it took a while, because the idea of writing a memoir about a departed friend while also having to navigate widowhood was too painful. For a while I had to sort of shelve the promise I made to Robert. In the last ten years, I finally got back on my feet and got the house in order, literally and figuratively. I was able to start again. I know it seems like a fairly simple book to take ten years to write, but I had to gather the material and think out the structure. And sometimes, truthfully, it was painful. It made me miss him, you know? Sometimes I’d remember the atmosphere of our youth with such clarity that it hurt. So I’d have to let go of it for months and months. Robert and I were always ourselves — ’til the day he died, we were just exactly as we were when we met. And we loved each other. Everybody wants to define everything. Is it necessary to define love?” —Interview, January 2010

23. Jane Birkin on Serge Gainsbourg
“He was unique; funny, in fact hilarious; dramatic Slav Jewish romantic; great battles; custard pies thrown; plunges in the Seine to be forgiven; too much drink; dottiness for animals; kids in the nightclubs in their Moses baskets; going to bed when the children woke up; exhilarating complicity in work doing musicals together; fun; tears; tyranny; generosity; drink; monotony of the clubs ’til 6 in the morning; separation faithfulness; truth; then a second life of being his muse and friend; and still standing on my kitchen chair and telling jokes! The latest ones: death … the joke’s over.” —Control Zine

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24. Kim Kardashian West on Kanye West
“I love always elevating and trying new things and I think that’s where Kanye comes in, because I swear he sees everything a few steps ahead of anyone else. Kanye is a big part of my fashion story and my fashion transformation. He’s my best stylist. Every look I love is definitely something that he’s had a hand in helping to style or put together. My friends and my sisters will say, ‘I’ve never met anyone like you two who will just sit in a closet for hours and try on clothes and cut things up and redesign them.’ We just love it, and we spend a lot of time on it. We do put a lot of effort into the looks and trying to stay ahead of the game.” —Harper’s Bazaar, August 2016

25. Marina Abramovic on Ulay
“We just lived like nomads. It was two people in love doing what we want. I think there was no better life ever. If I’m nostalgic, it is for that kind of freedom. Now I go to different countries to research things, but it’s always by myself.” —The Guardian, October 2016

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26. Katharine Hepburn on Spencer Tracy
“It was a unique feeling that I had for S.T. I would have done anything for him. My feelings — how can you describe them? — the door between us was always open. There were no reservations of any kind. He didn’t like this or that. I changed this and that. They might be qualities which I personally valued. It did not matter. I changed them … We did what he liked. We lived a life which he liked. This gave me great pleasure. The thought that it was pleasing him.” —Me: Stories of My Life, 1991

27. Jada Pinkett Smith on Will Smith
“Thank God I have a husband who’s just a gangster partner because can you just imagine taking that road together from 25 to 44? You’ve got to be strong … it takes work. Here’s what I trust: The man that Will is, is a man of integrity. He’s got all the freedom in the world … as long as Will can look in the mirror and be okay, I’m good.” —People, June 2015

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28. Ellen DeGeneres on Portia de Rossi
“I’m grateful for everything. I’m grateful for my health, and I’m so grateful for the love in my life. Because not everybody finds that. Not everybody finds that best friend.” —People, October 2016

29. Thandie Newton on Ol Parker
“He wrote a screenplay called In Your Dreams that I filmed in 1997. It’s very unusual to have writers around on set because directors don’t want them there. But they love having Ol around. He was on set every day and I fell madly in love with him … I’d never experienced that before. Up until then, my relationships had always been more based on people wanting to be with me. When I met Ol, I was dating a really sweet, lovely man and I had to leave him straight away, even though I wasn’t even going out with Ol! But as soon as I met Ol, it kind of cut off any other blood vessels to anywhere else. We got married about two years later.” —British InStyle, November 2009

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30. Meryl Streep on Don Gummer
While accepting the Best Actress Academy Award for her role in The Iron Lady: “First I’m going to thank Don, because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives, you’ve given me.” —at the Oscars, February 2012

30 Famous Women on Their Greatest Romance