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Famous widows and widowers | Gallery – Wonderwall

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Famous people are not immune to the tragedies of life, including losing a spouse. Join us as we take a look at Hollywood’s most famous widows and widowers…
On Sept. 28, ABC premiered “The Golden Bachelor” — a “The Bachelor” spinoff starring 72-year-old Gerry Turner, a retired restaurateur, father and grandfather from Indiana. The new series chronicles the senior citizen’s search for someone with whom he can spend his sunset years, with 22 women between 60 and 75 vying for his heart.
Gerry (pronounced like “Gary”) married his high school sweetheart, Toni, in 1974. They lived a happy and full life, welcoming daughters Angie and Jenny and, later, granddaughters Charlee and Payton. But in 2017 after 43 years together — just six weeks after Toni retired — she suddenly fell ill and died, leaving Gerry a widower. “She got robbed, every day that goes by, that’s the thought that I have,” Gerry told “Good Morning America.”
His daughters encouraged him to sign on for “The Golden Bachelor,” but Gerry wasn’t sure if he should do it. He told “GMA” he has a framed photo of his late wife on the dresser in his closet and “every morning I [would] give her the nod [and ask], ‘So what do you think about this?'” he said. “For a while it was like, I was having a hard time figuring out if she would be OK [with it]. But we always told each other when one of us goes, we want the other one to be happy. She’s up there rooting, she’s saying, ‘Yeah, Gerry, do this.'”
Keep reading to see more celebrities who’ve dealt with the loss of their partner…
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Kellie Pickler — the country music singer who came to fame on season 5 of “American Idol” in 2006 — lost her husband of 12 years, country music songwriter and producer Kyle Jacobs, to suicide on Feb. 17, 2023. Kyle, who penned tunes for everyone from Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and his wife to Kelly Clarkson, Wynonna Judd and Trace Adkins, was 49.
Six months after Kyle’s death, Kellie broke her silence in a statement to People magazine, telling fans, “One of the most beautiful lessons my husband taught me was in a moment of a crisis, if you don’t know what to do, ‘do nothing, just be still.’ I have chosen to heed his advice.
She continued, “Thank you to my family, friends, and supporters, for the countless letters, calls, and messages that you have sent my way,” Kellie continued. “It has truly touched my soul and it’s helping me get through the darkest time in my life. As many of you have told me, you are all in my prayers.”
MORE: Celebrities who died too soon
“Only Murders in the Building” star Martin Short became a widower on Aug. 21, 2010, when his wife of 30 years, Nancy Dolman, passed away from ovarian cancer. “Our marriage was a triumph. So it’s tough,” the “Saturday Night Live” alum told AARP in 2019. “She died in 2010, but I still communicate with her all the time,” he noted. “It’s ‘Hey Nan,’ you know? How would she react to this decision or that, especially regarding our three kids.” Martin and Nancy are seen here in 2009 — less than a year before he lost her.
MORE: Stars we lost in 2023

“Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter lost her husband of 37 years, Robert Altman, on Feb. 3, 2021. The attorney, who was 73, died of myelofibrosis — a rare type of blood cancer. “It’s totally frightening. I don’t know who I am without Robert,” Lynda told People magazine later that year. “It still gets me. I just can’t believe I’ve lost him.”
MORE: Stars who’ve lost children in recent years
John Travolta lost his wife of 28 years, actress Kelly Preston, on July 12, 2020, after a two-year battle with breast cancer that was not publicly revealed until she passed away. “I said [to my son], ‘Ben, you have always loved the truth, and I’m going to tell you the truth about life. Nobody knows when they are going to go or when they are going to stay,” John said on Kevin Hart’s talk show, revealing how he spoke to the youngest of his three children about death. “Your brother [Jett] left at 16. Too young. Your mother left at 57. That was too young. But who’s to say? I could die tomorrow. You could. Anybody can. So let’s look at it like it’s part of life. You don’t know exactly. You just do your best at trying to live the longest you can.”

On March 18, 2021, actor Richard Gilliland passed away, leaving behind his wife of nearly 34 years, “Designing Women” co-star Jean Smart. “He was a great dad, and he made me laugh every day,” the “Hacks” actress told Variety months after Richard’s sudden death from a heart condition. “Him passing away was just not ever even a thought. And it’s changed every moment of my everyday life; every atom of my existence I feel like is altered.”
Dancer, fitness instructor and “The Talk” co-host Amanda Kloots lost her husband, Tony-nominated Broadway actor Nick Cordero, on July 5, 2020, after a 95-day battle with COVID-19 and ensuing complications. The couple were married for just short of three years when Nick passed away. “I miss having someone to come home to, and I miss laughing with somebody,” Amanda — who’s now a single mom raising their son, Elvis, who was born in 2019 — told CBS News in 2022, sharing that she hopes to find love again. “I wanna have another person in my life. I want Elvis to have a father figure in his life. You know, you’re not taking the place of Nick. It’s not ever that. It’s just that Nick was a part of my life.”
“The Dukes of Hazzard” star John Schneider lost wife Alicia Allain at 53 on Feb. 21, 2023. “My beautiful Smile is pain free, living in her new body alongside Jesus,” the “Smallville” actor — who married the actress-producer, who was also his indie filmmaking partner, “before God” in 2019 (they reportedly made their union legal later that year after his long divorce from his second wife was finalized) — wrote on Facebook alongside photos of Alicia, who had battled breast cancer in recent years, and their wedding rings. “Please respect our privacy during this time of grief. Please do not ask any questions.” He also asked his followers to share “any pictures of us and our obvious love and adoration for each other” in the comments section of his post. “Lastly,” he added, “hug those you love tight and let them know how you feel. We always did.”
In the days that followed, John continued to post amid his grief, captioning photos of himself kissing his late wife, “I simply have no words but… I miss you desperately Mrs. Schneider” and “For me, this is what love looks like.” He also shared another pic of himself holding Alicia, writing, “This is a time of unimaginable sorrow for me. Grief is much too small a word. I’ve heard it said that ‘with great love comes great sorrow.’ I had no idea what that meant until now.”
Ginnie Newhart — the wife of comedy legend Bob Newhart — died on April 23, 2023, at 82. A rep for the family confirmed to People magazine that she passed after a long illness. Bob took to Twitter to mourn his wife of more than 60 years, writing, “She was our rock and we miss her terribly.
Punk music legend John Lydon’s wife of 44 years, Nora Forster, died at 80 on April 6, 2023, after living with Alzheimer’s since 2018. The former Sex Pistols singer’s band, Public Image Ltd., announced the heartbreaking news in a statement the same day. “It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Nora Forster — John Lydon’s wife of nearly 5 decades — has passed away. Nora had been living with Alzheimer’s for several years. In which time John had become her full time carer.”
A few months before Nora’s death, John — aka Johnny Rotten — reflected on Nora’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in an interview with London’s Sunday Times. “All the things I thought were the ultimate agony seem preposterous now,” he said of his love, a German publishing heiress, actress and model who was a well-known music promoter. “It’s shaped me into what I am. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I don’t see how I can live without her. I wouldn’t want to. There’s no point.”

Five-time Emmy winner Stanley Tucci lost his first wife, social worker Kate Spath, with whom he had three children, to breast cancer at 47 on April 27, 2009, just days after they celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary. The “Prizzi’s Honor” actor later opened up about how her death turned his life “completely upside down” and how “sad” and “difficult” it was to eventually leave the home where Kate died, he said on Justin Long’s “Life is Short” podcast. 
Though the “Searching for Italy” host eventually moved on, marrying British literary agent Felicity Blunt — the sister of his “The Devil Wears Prada” co-star Emily Blunt — in 2012, “You never stop grieving,” he told “CBS Sunday Morning” in 2021. “And it’s still hard after [all these] years … and it always will be hard. But you can’t let it, and she would never want any of us to ever wallow in that grief and let it take over our lives. She would never want that. She wasn’t like that.”

Comedian Patton Oswalt’s first wife, true crime author Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep on April 21, 2016, at 46. The “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” writer’s death was later attributed to an undiagnosed heart condition combined with the “effects of multiple drugs” including Adderall, Xanax and fentanyl, the coroner confirmed. “Of course I thought of her today,” Patton posted on Instagram on the five-year anniversary of her passing. “And I also thought of [our daughter] Alice, and how the loss shaped her and continues to shape her. And how Meredith [Salenger, whom I married in 2017] swooped into our lonely, broken lives and helped put the pieces back together, stronger and sleeker than they were before. This dark day gets a little less dark every year when I see how Alice — a living piece of Michelle safe in the hands of Meredith — keeps walking in light. I’m there to catch the shadows that try to creep in at the edges, or from behind. I’m good at spotting them, and then Alice helps me laugh them away. And what’s left is this beautiful, living memory.”

When the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, died from a stingray attack on Sept. 4, 2006, he left behind wife Terri Irwin and their two kids, Bindi Irwin and Robert Irwin.
“I keep saying this, and I think maybe 15 years later people are finally starting to believe me, Steve was it for me,” Terri — who runs the Australia Zoo with her kids — told QWeekend in 2021. “That’s just the way it is. I had a big, big love and it was enough to last a lifetime.”

After almost 15 years of marriage, Liam Neeson became a widower when his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died on March 18, 2009, after sustaining a head injury in ski accident in Canada. The mother of two was 45 when she died — and would have turned 60 today, May 11, 2023.
“That’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it. You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work,” Liam told Esquire in 2011. “It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night. I’m out walking. I’m feeling quite content. And it’s like suddenly, boom. It’s like you’ve just done that in your chest.”

After The Beatles broke up, Paul McCartney went on to record music solo and with his wife, Linda McCartney, and their band, Wings. On April 17, 1998 — after almost 30 years of marriage — the photographer and animal rights activist passed away at 56.
“Both my mum and Linda died of breast cancer. We had no idea what my mum had died of because no-one talked about it. She just died,” Paul later told the BBC. “The worst thing about that was everyone was very stoic, everyone kept a stiff upper lip and then one evening you’d hear my dad crying in the next room. It was tragic because we’d never heard him cry. It was a quiet private kind of grief.” As Paul mourned Linda, he “cried for about a year, on and off,” he said. “You expect to see them walk in, this person you love, because you are so used to them. I cried a lot. It was almost embarrassing except it seemed the only thing to do.”
Paul was later married to Heather Mills for four years and has been wed to current wife Nancy Shevell since 2011.

Rick Moranis became a widower when his wife of about five years, makeup artist Ann Belsky, died of breast cancer on Feb. 4, 1991 — one day before her 35th birthday. The “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “Ghostbusters” actor subsequently took a 24-year hiatus from Hollywood after her death to focus on raising their twins.

Beth Chapman, who starred alongside husband Duane “Dog” Chapman on the hit A&E show “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and its spinoffs for years, died at a hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 26, 2019, at 51 from complications of cancer. Beth was diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer in September 2017 and went into remission, but by late 2018, the disease had returned and spread. Beth was Duane’s fifth wife. She had two children with Duane, with whom she’d been involved for 15 years before they finally married in 2006.
“I loved her so much,” a grieving Duane told Hawaii News Now, sharing that Beth left little notes around the house — including in pillowcases, on the sink and in his shaving kit — for him to find in their home after she passed. “I’m gonna see my honey again. That’s all we can do is hope.” In 2021, he married rancher Francie Frane, a widow who’d also lost her spouse to cancer. “With Francie, I’m allowed to speak about Beth, we speak about her husband. We cry. We hold each other,” Duane told TMZ.
Four years after Beth passed away, Dog revealed an unexpected blessing: He’d recently learned that decades earlier, he fathered a son who was born on the same day Beth died, June 26. “For the last four years, this day was a terrible reminder of one of the greatest losses of my life,” Dog, a father of 13 with multiple women, wrote on Instagram in 2023. “But God redeemed this day when I discovered my son Jon, who I just met recently, was born on this day. So now instead of sorrow, this day has a new meaning.” 

Soap opera icon Susan Lucci lost her husband of 52 years, Helmut Huber, on March 28, 2022. He was 84. Nearly a year later, the “All My Children” actress opened up about her grief, telling “Good Day New York” that the Austrian TV producer had been a “very special big presence” and “very take-charge in a good way” as well as “caring, a caregiver, funny [and] smart. … not to mention very handsome and [he had a] cute accent.” When asked if she felt ready to date again, Susan made it clear she was not. “Everybody’s different, and I just miss him and he’s worth missing,” she said. “He was really, really the love of my life.”

President Joe Biden knows pain. He tragically lost his first wife, Neilia, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car accident while they were out Christmas shopping 50 years ago on Dec. 18, 1972 — just weeks after he was elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time. Their sons, Hunter and Beau, survived the crash with minor injuries; Beau died from a brain tumor in 2015. In 1977, Joe married Jill Biden, with whom he had a daughter, Ashley.

In December 1980, Pierce Brosnan married his first wife, Cassandra Harris, with whom he shared a son, Sean, as well as her two children from a previous relationship, Charlotte and Chris, whom Pierce adopted after their biological father passed away. In 1987, Cassandra was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She passed away at 43 on Dec. 28, 1991, leaving the “Remington Steele” and James Bond actor a widower. (Sadly, daughter Charlotte succumbed to the same disease in 2013.) Pierce went on to find love again with Keely Shaye Smith, whom he married in 2001; they share two sons.

Vanessa Bryant tragically became a widow on Jan. 26, 2020, when retired NBA star husband Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on their way to a basketball game just north of Los Angeles. “This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward,” Vanessa told People magazine in 2021. “Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my [three other] girls and for me. So that’s what I do.”

On Jan. 24, 1998, Katie Couric’s husband of nine years, lawyer and NBC News legal analyst Jay Monahan passed away at 42 from colon cancer. “I was so worried about letting go of hope, because I didn’t want Jay to spend whatever time he had left just waiting to die,” Katie told People magazine in 2021. “I think it takes extraordinary courage to be able to face death, and I think I was too scared, honestly.” The journalist has moved on, marrying John Molner in 2014, but lives with the lessons of being a widow. “I understand the fragility of life in a way that will always be with me,” she says. “It also makes me realize the futility of being mad at somebody, of petty arguments. I always think about what David Cassidy said on his deathbed: ‘So much wasted time.'” Katie sought treatment for the disease herself after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022.

Actor Damian Lewis lost his wife of 13 years, “Harry Potter” and “Peaky Blinders” star Helen McCrory, 52, in April 2021 after a private breast cancer battle. “She has been utterly heroic in her illness. Funny, of course — generous, brave, uncomplaining, constantly reminding us all of how lucky we’ve been, how blessed we are. Her generosity has extended to encouraging us three to live. Live fully, take opportunities, have adventures,” Damian wrote in The Sunday Times of his late love, with whom he shares two children. “She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine. In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to ‘normalize’ her death. She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy.” He added, “I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.”

Actor Steve Buscemi lost his wife of 31 years, artist and filmmaker Jo Andres, on Jan. 6, 2019, to ovarian cancer. After being diagnosed in 2015, she went into remission after undergoing chemotherapy, but her cancer returned in 2017. “The pain was the hardest thing,” the “Reservoir Dogs” and “Big Lebowski” actor later told GQ. “People who are going through that, it’s painful. It’s painful to die from cancer. There’s just no way around it.” Jo’s death led the widower to think about his own. “If I should happen to go not suddenly, I hope I could be as present as Jo was,” he said. “She led the way. She was surrounded by friends and family. She really faced it. I really don’t think she was afraid of dying. I think it was just a whole series of ‘Oh, I don’t get to do this anymore.'”

On Jan. 10, 2016, supermodel Iman became a widow when her husband of almost 24 years, music star David Bowie, died at 69 following an 18-month battle with liver cancer. “I don’t think it will ever go away, but the acceptance of it, and the remembrance of the joy, rather than saying every memory that, ‘Oh, I wish he was here, I wish we could experience this together.’ Now I remember the 26 joyful years I had with my husband,” the supermodel — who welcomed daughter Lexi with the music icon — said on the “Today” show in 2021, adding that she could never remarry. “People say to me when they talk, ‘Oh, I loved your late husband,’ and I said, ‘He’s not my late husband, he’s my husband,’ so that’s how I feel about it. This was truly the love of my life, and I just wait until I meet him again.”

On Dec. 8, 1980 — 11 years after they were married — Yoko Ono became a widow when John Lennon was shot and killed by a crazed fan of his band, The Beatles. John was Yoko’s third husband; she never remarried. She has worked to continue his legacy, funding the Strawberry Fields memorial in Manhattan’s Central Park, the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland and the since-closed John Lennon Museum in Japan. This portrait of John and Yoko was taken just a month before his murder.

Celine Dion’s husband and manager, René Angélil, passed away on Jan. 14, 2016, in Las Vegas at 73 after a prolonged battle with throat cancer. “Losing my husband, for my [three] kids to lose their father, it was quite something,” the music star — René’s wife of 21 years — told the “Today” show in 2021. “I feel like René has given me so much through the years and still today. I see my kids. I look at them — we live with him. We still live with him. He’s part of our lives every day…” Celine is still not ready to move on. “I’m not thinking about a relationship and falling in love again. I don’t,” she added. “Do I have to say that it will never happen anymore? I don’t know. I don’t know.”

In February 1992, Hole singer Courtney Love married Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Barely two years later on April 5, 1994, Kurt died by suicide at their home in Washington, leaving behind Courtney and their 19-month-old daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.

After 73 years of marriage, Queen Elizabeth II became a widow when husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh passed away at 99 in April 2021. She herself passed away just 17 months later at 96.
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