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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 13:49 GMT
Hollywood's hardest performances
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Cruise and Kidman: Career problems
Hollywood marriages come and go, but Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's split has surprised even the most cynical celebrity-watchers.

This is the couple who stayed together for 10 years, while their peers followed them down the aisle and then headed for the divorce courts within a few years.

Despite cavorting for the camera in Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, the couple's spokesperson blamed "divergent careers that keep them apart" for the separation.

While many find keeping a marriage together can be hard work at the best of times, being an internationally-known film star attached to another internationally-known film star could just be a job too hard.

Celebrity gossip

Thanks to the internet, celebrity gossip has never been in bigger demand, while the extreme volatility of a career in Hollywood does not exactly assist an easy home life.

Dennis Quaid filed for divorce from Meg Ryan last year after nine years of marriage, but not before pictures of Ryan with Gladiator star Russell Crowe had been flashed around the world.

Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan's career overtook husband Dennis Quaid's in the late 1990s
While Ryan had become Hollywood's darling thanks to roles in You've Got Mail and Sleepless In Seattle, Quaid's career had slipped out of the limelight, following early 90s hits like The Big Easy and Great Balls of Fire.

Last month saw Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin confirm they had split up after seven years of marriage.

Basinger cited "irreconcilable differences" between the pair, who met on the set of The Marrying Man in 1991.

Although she won an Oscar in 1998 for her role in LA Confidential, Basinger's career has been turbulent.

In 1993 she filed for bankruptcy after pulling out of the film Boxing Helena, and she has also been suffered from agoraphobia, which was reported to have made difficulties within their marriage worse.

'Sham' accusations

Bruce Willis and Demi Moore stunned Hollywood when they announced their separation in 1998. They married in 1987, but strains appeared after Moore appeared in flops Striptease and GI Jane.

They also suffered from accusations that it was a marriage of convenience.

Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin split after seven years
Actress Ally Sheedy, a former friend of Moore's who is best known for 1985's The Breakfast Club, told US magazine when the couple split: "The quickest route to power for an actress in Hollywood is to hook up with someone who can put you in a good position and make yourself into a sex object."

In 1999 Cruise and Kidman won a suit against American supermarket tabloid The Star, which claimed a sex therapist had to teach them to make love for the camera in Eyes Wide Shut.

A year before, they won substantial damages at the High Court in London after the Sunday Express claimed their marriage was a sham.

Gossip was also hard to bear for Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere, who placed full-page advertisements in newspapers denying their marriage was in trouble in the early 1990s.

"Marriage is hard enough without all this negative speculation," they wrote - but they split months later, in 1994.

Searching for sham marriages has been a Hollywood sport ever since Rock Hudson married his agent's secretary in 1955.

But one couple who got together at that time are still together.

Newman's star turn

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward met in 1953, married in 1958, and the couple are frequently held up as an example for others to follow.

Paul Newman
42 years and counting: Paul Newman
But Woodward admits she found combining family life and Paul Newman's rising celebrity status - The Hustler opened three years after their marriage - difficult.

"Now, people are lovely and gracious and tend to treat me and Paul like some elder statesmen," she said last year.

"But when I was young and had young children, it was terrible. I hated it. When photographers would shove me aside to get to Paul, when women would try to tear his clothes off, when I was trying to protect the children."

She also admits to being "uncomfortable" with her husband's success - "how corny of me to have been worried about professional competition".

But despite the sacrifices Newman and - especially - Woodward have made, they remain a rare example of a long-lasting celebrity couple.

Any couple seeking to emulate them should bear in mind that if they can stay together, it's likely to be the finest performance of their careers.

Tom and Nicole
How can celebrity couples survive?
See also:

06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cruise and Kidman to separate
26 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Willis and Moore divorce
29 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Meg and Dennis split up
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cruise and Kidman: In pictures
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Cruise and Kidman: Broken dream
06 Feb 01 | Talking Point
Can celebrity couples survive?
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