A-list Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have defied all the odds and been married for 16 years, despite their 25-year age gap. However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the acting duo as issues in their lives threatened to split them up.
16 Years Of Ups And Downs
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas marked their 16th wedding anniversary in November 2016, however their relationship has been an emotional rollercoaster. Both of them have had extra pressures and stresses that have added to their marital woes. Today they explain the ups and downs in their relationship.
Catherine’s Early Life
Catherine was born and raised in Swansea, Wales but despite her humble beginnings, she was always set for stardom. She appeared in West End musicals including Annie and Bugsy Malone and moved to London to attend The Arts Educational School. Catherine began landing roles from a young age where she was portrayed as the ‘pretty girl’, leading her to grow incredibly tired of the stereotype resulting in her relocation to Los Angeles, a move which propelled her to stardom.
Born Into The Industry
Michael Douglas is the eldest son of Kirk Douglas and Diana Dill, meaning he was born to be in the industry from a young age. Following in his parents footsteps, he attended an arts school as a child which later led him to do his Bachelor of Arts in Drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Douglas had his TV breakthrough in 1969 which led his acting career to boom from then on. His most notable performance was the 1984 rom com Romancing The Stone.
Both Catherine and Michael were hot property in Hollywood, Catherine was seen as a young beautiful bombshell while Michael was the handsome actor with an incredible charm. Michael dated actress Brenda Vaccaro for almost six years before moving onto Diandra Luker, a 19-year-old diplomat’s daughter. They were married in 1977 and had one child together but later separated in 1995. Catherine, on the other hand, had an exciting dating life, having relationships with John Leslie, David Essex, Mick Hucknall and was briefly engaged to Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen.
Love At First Sight
Catherine’s most notable performance, one which catapulted her to the height of the film industry, was her role as Elena in the 1998 film The Mask Of Zorro. The movie was a hit at the box office which led Michael to attend a private screening of the movie and he was absolutely mesmerized by her beautiful brown eyes and striking looks. Catherine gushed of the moment, “He says he fell in love with me the first time he saw me on screen.”
That fall, Catherine was attending the Deauville Film Festival to promote her movie Zorro and Michael was also attending the film festival to promote his thriller A Perfect Murder. Catherine spoke of the first time she laid eyes on her future husband saying “The first time I saw him was in the hotel lobby, he walked right past me, carrying his golf clubs.” However this was not their only meeting at the event and the two later had an official introduction.
Catherine and Michael were seated at a dinner together that evening after an official introduction from Danny DeVito and immediately bonded after finding out they shared the same birthday. Michael recalled the evening, saying “I was on a mission. There was no doubt. The first time I saw Catherine it was like, Wow.” From this, Michael wasted no time and proclaimed “You know, I’m going to be the father of your children.” Michael later admitted he thought he blew his chance after his outrageous pick up line.
An Intrigued Catherine
In response to Michael’s unusual remark, she composed herself and replied “I’ve heard a lot about you and I’ve seen a lot about you and I think it’s time that I said goodnight.” However, Catherine was not put off, if anything she was intrigued by the actor and they continued speaking. In late 1998, the two began dating but kept their love under wraps as they did not want the media to find out about their relationship in the early days.
Slow But Strong
From the outset of their relationship, Catherine and Michael were largely kept apart due to their blossoming careers and busy work schedules, leading Catherine to admit “we never even kissed until nine months later.” Regardless, they knew it was something special and their love went deeper and they soon realized they couldn’t hide their relationship anymore. For this reason, in 1999, they went public with their romance at the premiere of Catherine’s thriller Entrapment, announcing to the press that they were indeed an item.
Questions of Age
Although it is not uncommon in Hollywood for older actors to date younger, beautiful women, many people still raised the question of age for Catherine and Michael due to their 25-year age gap. The couple were never phased by people’s comments and always maintained a sense of humor about it, explaining: “We joke all the time about when I reach my 80s and she’s wheeling me around and I’m saying ‘Whoa, where are we going?’ And she will say ‘Cartier darling, Cartier. It’s your favorite store.”
Madly In Love
From their public appearance, Catherine and Michael’s relationship went from strength to strength with many rumors surrounding an engagement. At their joint birthday party, when Catherine was turning 30 and Michael 55, guests noted that “Michael gave a toast and said how he’d known Catherine for a year and how much she meant to his life.” Many thought that this would be the time he got down on one knee, but he couldn’t. Michael had another situation he had to deal with.
Hitting A Roadblock
Michael knew that he wanted to spend his life with Catherine from the moment he laid eyes on her but he was prevented from asking her to marry him as he was currently married to someone else. Michael was still legally married to his wife of 22 years, Diandra, and although they separated in 1995, the divorce proceedings had not been finalized. At the time, Diandra was overheard saying, “Before Michael can marry, he has to divorce me – or become a Muslim so he can have two wives.”
Down On One Knee
On New Years Eve in 1999, Michael knew he wanted to be married to Catherine and got down on one knee in Aspen, Colorado, asking to marry her. In the meantime, Michael’s divorce proceedings were well underway and there was another surprise for the newly engaged couple. Catherine found out that she was pregnant with their first child but this did not stop the actress from proceeding with her successful career and her pregnancy was incorporated in her role in Traffic.
Baby On Board
In August 2000, Catherine gave birth to their first child, Dylan Michael. Soon after he was born, Dylan was diagnosed with dyslexia and his parents did everything they could to help him. Many people in Michael’s family suffered with dyslexia so they knew how to deal with it. Michael said about his son “I am consumed with being a father” and together with Catherine, they were incredibly hands-on parents, making their newborn son their first priority and leaving their careers taking a back seat.
Similar to many other high profile Hollywood couples, Catherine and Michael’s vast individual wealth meant that they needed to protect their separate assets when they became man and wife, in the case of a divorce. Michael learned about the importance of a prenup after paying out $45 million to his ex wife. It was reported that Catherine would receive $4 million per year in alimony as well as a rumored cheating clause which said Catherine would receive a lump sum if Michael was to stray.
On the 18th November 2000, Catherine and Michael were married in a lavish ceremony at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The high-profile nuptials were labelled the “wedding of the year” by the media and had many A-list celebrities attending. The couple signed an exclusive deal $2 million with OK! magazine, giving them the rights to pictures of the whole event which cost a reported $1.5 million. When journalists from rival magazine HELLO! snuck into the event, the newly weds sued the publication for invasion of privacy.
Catherine Takes Center Stage
After their wedding, Catherine’s career was on the up and she landed some highly respected roles in Hollywood. Her performance in the film adaptation of musical Chicago won her an Academy Award in 2003 and she credited her husband for all his support. When the media speculated whether Michael was jealous of her success, Catherine hit back “We’re in different places in our lives career-wise, so we’re not vying for attention – there’s no tug of war.”
Many celebrities have crazed fans but some take it too far. Catherine and Michael had a terrifying situation where they had a disturbing stalker. The couple were harassed by the stalker Dawnette Knight, who made threatening phone calls and sent violent letters to them over a year-and-a-half period. In the lawsuit, Catherine testified in the case and spoke of how the situation resulted her to have panic attacks and develop anxiety, thinking someone was following her.
Baby Number 2
Just months after winning her Oscar, Catherine gave birth to her second child, a baby girl named Carys Zeta in April 2003. Upon their baby’s arrival, the family relocated to Bermuda in an attempt to live a normal, quiet family life away from media attention. Catherine said of their decision, “It’s just easy and removed, and it’s a great place to bring up kids. You should see me taking them to school with my baseball cap on – but why am I hiding? Nobody’s going to recognize me, anyway!”
In 2007, Michael’s eldest song from his previous marriage, Cameron, was arrested for intent to sell illicit substances, leaving his father and step mother devastated that his addiction had progressed. Catherine stepped in and wrote the judge a letter of support to her step son, calling him an “caring, considerate worthy human being”. Cameron pleaded guilty for the sale of hard drugs and was sentenced to five years in jail but was later given an extra four and a half after trying to smuggle substances into prison to sell.
Catherine revealed in an interview that the couple have separate sections within their house. She said that the separate bathroom situation allows her to be messy without her husband seeing. Catherine said “We spend a hell of a lot of time together, so we are careful to maintain our space. We recently had an extension built, to house a closet. It’s like the Tardis – I go in there and never come out. My husband knocks on the door and says, ‘Can I come in?”
While Michael considers himself Jewish, inheriting the religion from his father, despite his mother not being of the same religion, Catherine grew up as a Catholic. The actress has been vocal about her faith, displaying it through wearing elaborate and expensive crucifixes. Catherine once admitted she wanted to baptize her children but later backtracked on that comment saying that wasn’t going to raise them as Catholic. In later life, they decided to let their children chose their religion themselves.
Gratitude To Her Husband
In 2010, it came as a shock to Catherine when she won a Tony Award for her role in Broadway musical A Little Night Music. Catherine excitedly stood in front of the audience with her award and said “See that man there? He’s a movie star and I get to sleep with him every night,” Catherine later reflected on her words saying, “What I said about Michael was heartfelt. Although thinking about it now I can’t believe I said something as crass as that.”
In August 2010, it was announced that Michael was diagnosed with throat cancer and was forced to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment and doctors saw that the cancer had developed into advanced stage four. However, it was later revealed that Michael actually had tongue cancer, but on the back of a massive press tour, they did not want to reveal the actual worser prognosis. Surgeons told Michael that he may lose part of his jaw and face and he did not want to explain that to the press.
Catherine spoke out about the struggles the whole family went through during Michael’s treatment. She said “We tried to keep it as private as possible, but because of what we do, it’s very hard. I didn’t talk to other people about it enough. That’s one thing I would do more of.” She continued in discussing the impact it had on their young children stating, “Our children asking ‘Is Daddy going to die?’ was really hard.”
With Catherine and the kids seriously concerned for Michael’s health, the actor did everything in his power to let his family live a normal life as possible, despite his throat cancer. In the middle of his chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, he took his children to Disneyland to enjoy the rides and spend some quality time together. Pictured with his kids Dylan and Carys, Michael showed his optimism towards his condition and wouldn’t let it take time away from his children.
Catherine Admits She Didn’t Want Kids
Although she is now seen as a hands on, doting mom, Catherine admitted in 2010 that she was not always favorable to the idea of becoming a mother. She admitted, “I wasn’t the kind of girl who always wanted babies, it was scary becoming a mother.” However, once she got together with Michael, everything changed and her priorities shifted and she said “I have to be passionate and committed about something if it’s going to take me away from them.”
Catherine’s Mental Health
With her husband going through intense treatment for tongue cancer, Catherine began going through a tough time dealing with her mental health, leading her doctor to diagnose her with bipolar disorder. She said of the diagnosis “Finding out that it was called something was the best thing that ever happened to me! The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating.”
Catherine Gets Help
On the back of her diagnosis with bipolar disorder, Catherine knew she had to seek help to find ways of coping with it. With many rumors saying that she had checked into rehab, her rep finally confirmed them, stating”After dealing with the stress of the past year, Catherine made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her Bipolar II Disorder.” Michael was by her side when she checked in and out.
Michael Beats Cancer
Immediately after Catherine left her 5-day stint in rehab, Michael was given some incredible news surrounding his health. He told the media “The tumor is gone.” Michael said that Catherine was overcome with emotion at the news and he was feeling equally relived. He said “I can’t tell you I was jumping up and clicking my heels. For me, it will probably be two or three months before it will really sink in and feel good.”
A Royal Honor
In February 2011, Catherine received news informing her that she was to be awarded with a royal honor from Prince Charles. The whole family supported Catherine in being presented her Commander of the British Empire for her acting achievements at Buckingham Palace. She said “It means a lot to come home with my family and to be honored in this way – very emotional, rather nervous I must say, and it was worth (it) to have Michael in good health to be able to enjoy it.”
Back To Rehab
In early 2013, Catherine was struggling again with her bipolar disorder and checked herself into rehab to seek treatment. Her first stint in rehab was just five days whereas her second was a month long. Her rep confirmed she had gone in and said she was attending for “maintenance” and wanted to manage her health in the correct way. The actress had previously stated how she thought it was important to speak to people and that there is no shame in seeking help.
In 2013, Michael gave a revealing interview to British newspaper The Guardian and stated that his throat cancer was apparently caused by the virus HPV. Michael allegedly insinuated that this virus was contracted from private acts with Catherine. His outrageous confession was immediately splashed all over the press, leaving Catherine mortified at the comments and questions being directed at her. As it turns out, Michael contracted HPV separate to Catherine and the virus had nothing to do with her.
Taking A Break
In wake of a string of arguments, Catherine and Michael announced that they were taking a break from their marriage to focus on themselves in 2013. When the couple began living separately and taking vacations apart, the rumor mill went into overdrive with all the tabloids saying they had split. Michael’s rep was later forced to confirm the rumors and stated “Michael and Catherine are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.”
Despite all of the rumors, there was no legal separation or divorce filed and their time apart lasted only three months. Before the couple got back together, Michael said “Sometimes people take a little bit of a break, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the end. I’m very hopeful.” The following year, the couple walked their first red carpet together since the announcement of their separation. The couple attended an event at The Public Theatre to support director Steven Soderbergh.
Change Of Environment
After Michael confirmed that he and his wife were back on track and “doing great”, the couple decided to purchase a new home for a fresh start, putting their troubles behind them. They snapped up a $11.2 million beautiful home in the exclusive Bedford Hills area of New York. The mansion is 15,458 sq ft and has eight bedrooms and 18 bathrooms along with a swimming pool and tennis court. Their new start was pleasing for their teenage children who were hoping their parents would reconcile.
A Family Affair
After embracing his father’s Jewish heritage, Michael and Catherine’s son Dylan began learning the religion and studied for his Bar Mitzvah which took place in Israel. Of his son’s decision, Michael commented “He does love the faith and the culture, and he thinks the number of Jews is declining because so many are assimilating and marrying non-Jews, him included” He continued “If you turn your back on these people because your mother was not Jewish, you’re going to lose people . . . He’s passionate about inclusion.”
In 2015, Michael went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and described how much he loved his wife. When the chat show host quizzed him on their break two years prior, Michael said “If both of you are willing you know to do it.” He continued saying “The only problem is, as you well know, we’re all in the public eye and it tends to get a little more exposed than most. But we’re back stronger than ever.”
In November 2015, the couple celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary together. Catherine posted on her Instagram writing “Happy Anniversary dearest Michael! Loving our life together, here’s to the next 15!” The couple worked through their issues to remain strong and as for celebrating the 15 year milestone, Michael said they planned to do something low-key, going to see a Broadway show and have dinner together. Michael said of his wife, “I love Catherine as much, more than I ever have. And hopefully the feeling’s mutual.”
Working On It
In an interview in 2016 with Good Housekeeping, Catherine spoke of the ups and downs in her marriage saying that “It’s a long road and I think people today are so quick to throw in the towel on marriage. You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises, because that won’t be the last problem. There will be many more down the road.” Her reassuring words were quick to shoot down speculation of a split.
Catherine and Michael’s relationship has been smooth sailing since their brief split five years ago. Michael said that Catherine often reminds him of a saying he regularly uses, explaining “I like to say sometimes, we all make more effort with strangers than we do to the people closest to us.” Inspired by this, they put more effort into their relationship as a couple. As for how they’ve stayed so strong and are still in love, Michael said they try to keep it “moment to moment”.