Five years ago, the oddest couple tied the knot. But it came undone less than two years later.
She was the pretty woman with hair like Rita Hayworth’s; he was a pretty funny-looking man with hair like a haystack. When Hollywood darling Julia Roberts, 25, married country crooner Lyle Lovett, 35, on June 27, 1993, they didn’t exactly make a model pair: The press dubbed them “beauty and the beast.” In fact, their 21 months as celebritydom’s oddest couple seemed plucked from one of Lovett’s strange, ironic love songs. Though they both appeared in Robert Altman’s 1992 film The Player, Roberts and Lovett reportedly met just three weeks before exchanging vows. Soon, Lovett began dedicating concert songs to “Fiona”—Roberts’ middle name. After a much-publicized engagement to, and breakup with, Kiefer Sutherland in 1991, the actress seemed determined to keep this romance low-key. The wedding came with just 72 hours’ notice to guests (including the couple’s friends Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon) in a church in tiny Marion, Ind., in the midst of Lovett’s summer tour. Later that night, Roberts went on stage in her white satin dress in Nobelsville, Ind., announcing “Ladies and gentlemen, my husband…Lyle Lovett.” They kissed, and the crowd applauded; Lovett said, “Welcome to the happiest day of my life.” His first song? “Stand By Your Man.”
But the times they would actually stand by each other were rare. Two days after the nuptials, Roberts left for Washington, D.C., to continue filming The Pelican Brief. Lovett would tell PEOPLE magazine in November 1993 that he had never spent seven straight days with Roberts.
The next movie the actress began shooting would have a telling title: I Love Trouble. In April 1994, Roberts made tabloid headlines after some sultry dancing with actor Ethan Hawke in a Manhattan nightspot. She and Lovett filmed separate scenes for Altman’s Ready to Wear in Paris in May, missing each other by hours. And while shooting Mary Reilly in London that summer, Roberts was linked in the British papers with costar Michael Sheen.
If Tinseltown scratched its head over the Roberts-Lovett romance, its cynicism seemed validated in the end: They announced their separation in March 1995, though they reportedly remain friends. Inevitably, it wasn’t the airplanes, but star-crossed careers, that killed beauty and the beast.