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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
The pitfalls of marrying fame
Mel B and Kate Winslet
Marriage woes for celebrities who wed "civilians"
By BBC News Online's Christine McCarthy

A lowly bookshop owner falls in love with a film star and they live happlily ever after.

Not surprisingly, the tale that is the hit film Notting Hill seems to sit better in fiction than it does in real life.

This week actress Kate Winslet revealed she was splitting up with her husband, assistant director Jim Threapleton.

Her flourishing acting career has been blamed for the split.

Vow

Yet the prince and pauper-style marriages between celebrities and the non-famous have an all too familiar unhappy ending.

Film star Elizabeth Taylor is no stranger to marriage, but even she vowed her marriage to construction worker Larry Fortensky was for keeps.

She was an international screen goddess, he was a non-too-bright builder.

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor's eighth marriage failed

They met at that little-known dating agency, the Betty Ford Clinic in California, where he was being treated for alcoholism.

She was described as a "lovesick teenager" at 59, marrying a man 20 years her junior.

Friends said it would not work and sure enough, five years later the marriage crumbled.

Eight-times-married Ms Taylor vowed "never again".

Little known

On this side of the Atlantic, Joan Collins has become as famous for her lovelife as she has her movies and TV fame.

The actress, who played the scheming Alexis in Dynasty, married a Swedish businessman called Peter Holm in 1990.

It was at the height of her Dynasty fame and they tied the knot in that celebrity chapel, the Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas.

But the romance was not so sweet.

It lasted a month in total and the split was acrimonious.

He sold photographs of the couple and she refused to hand over her previous Rivera home as part of his divorce settlement.

Joan Collins
Joan Collins failed to find love with businessman Peter Holm

Music stars who marry outside of the celebrity circle seem to be just as ill-fated.

Spice girl Mel B married dancer Jimmy Gulzar in a glitzy ceremony in September 1998.

They met when he was a dancer on the Spice Girls world tour.

Like Winslet and Threapleton the couple had a child, Phoenix-Chi, born in February 1999.

Feuds

But the course of true love did not go smoothly and just 18 months after they wed, the pair split amid a tabloid frenzy.

Spice girl Mel B
Mel B divorced dancer Jimmy Gulzar

Feuds over divorce settlements feature strongly in these celebrity-civilian break-ups.

Hollywood star Harrison Ford is said to be heading for one of the most expensive splits ever when his divorce to long-term partner Melissa reaches the courts.

It is the end of an 18-year marriage for film star Ford and wife Melissa, who wrote the screen play for the hit film ET.

One insider is reported as saying: "He made most of his money while married to Melissa. She could take him to the cleaners."

The loyal spouse who loses their partner once fame strikes, is another familiar tale of woe.

DJ and media giant Chris Evans tired of his first wife Carol McGiffen who he married in 1991 when they were both radio presenters on the former GLR.

The marriage lasted a couple of years, just as Evans' career hit the bigtime when he became co-host of Channel Four's The Big Breakfast.

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford, heading for costly divorce

The ginger wonder married pop star Billie Piper earlier this year in...the Little Chapel of the West, Las Vegas.

So the secret of a happy marriage still eludes many celebrities who try to find love with the "common" people.

Perhaps, like Victoria and David Beckham, celebrities can only find love if their success is matched across the breakfast table.

See also:

05 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Winslet backs British talent
22 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Winslet's web stalker
25 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Titanic star's baby joy
22 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Titanic star in low-key wedding
05 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Career 'caused Winslet split'
05 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Winslet: Split sad but amicable
04 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Kate Winslet to split from husband
15 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Kate Winslet names baby Mia
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