She was his real-life pretty woman. He was her brooding Buddhist. They were, according to PEOPLE, ”the sexiest couple alive.” And on Dec. 12, 1991, after three years of public canoodling, Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere made their relationship official in an impromptu ceremony at the Little Church of the West, in Las Vegas. Like fat-free cheesecake, this Hollywood romance seemed too good to be true. The two were introduced in 1988 by the mother of celebrity photographer Herb Ritts. Crawford, then 22, was the reigning supermodel of the day. Gere, then 39, was a bad boy-turned-Buddhist who was about to melt women’s hearts in Pretty Woman.
The low-key courtship that followed was more Little House on the Prairie than House of Style. But by 1991, Crawford was itching to wed and reportedly gave Gere an ultimatum: Marry or move on. Gere capitulated and hauled his leggy love to Vegas, where they exchanged foil wedding rings. The ceremony was followed by dinner at Denny’s, and faster than you can say blue-plate special, Gere was back in L.A. to film director Mike Figgis’ Mr. Jones.
Questions about the legitimacy of their union loomed. The age gap was one thing, but the rumor of Gere’s homosexuality was an elephant in the, er, closet, one the media wouldn’t let fade. ”…Considering the number of women he’s [been] associated with,” Crawford sniffed at the time, ”when does he have time to be gay?” Crawford’s sexual bent also came into question, especially after she graced the cover of Vanity Fair, tarted up to shave a very content k.d. lang.
Crawford and Gere tried to look past the accusations but, after almost three years of gossip, they decided to fight back. In response to an article in a French newspaper that claimed Gere ”preferred men,” the couple paid $30,000 for a full-page ad in the London Times declaring ”We are heterosexual and monogamous and take our commitment to each other very seriously.” Nevertheless, eight months later, 11 days shy of their three-year anniversary, they announced their separation. ”Richard was shooting a lot of movies and Cindy was traveling like a lunatic,” says Crawford pal and former trainer Radu Teodorescu. ”The separation came from them having different interests in life.”
Crawford wasted no time rekindling an old romance with nightclub impresario Rande Gerber. The two wed in 1998 and now have two children: Presley, 2, and newborn Kaia. For his part, Gere has a 1-year-old son, Homer, with longtime companion Carey Lowell. Says Radu, ”I think they are both very content with what they have now.”