This morning I was listening to the end of Carrie Fisher’s new book Shockaholic, and she describes a scene where her father Eddie Fisher brings Elizabeth Taylor a necklace. The scene is so beautiful and incredibly loving. It was a perfect moment. All love stories have their moments, whether they are real or fictional.
I tend to love love stories where the couples are a little unconventional, the ones you might not think, “Ah, yes! Their love will go down for the ages!” I do believe in true love and soul mates, though. I’m a romantic. If a person ends up alone, that’s okay, too, as long as the person is happy. Same with a relationship. If the relationship makes the person happy, wonderful. If it doesn’t, then we have a problem. Here are some of my favorite love stories that were captured in fictional and real life.
Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill Chaplin: He was fifty-three. She was eighteen. Yet they were meant to be together. Although taking care of her elderly husband wore on Oona in his later years (she became an alcoholic which lasted until her death), there’s no doubt that their love was strong. When Chaplin found out that he couldn’t go back to the states (according to Jerry Epstein’s Remembering Chaplin), Oona went back, paid off their staff, made arrangements for their house to be sold, then made sure that all their business assets were taken care of. When Epstein took her out for dinner, many diners called her “Commie red.” Epstein tried to protest, but she laughed it off. She also gave up her US citizenship for her beloved. True bravery and true love on her part.
Love Story: I’ve written about how much I’ve loved this movie in the past. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s screwy that the doctor tells Oliver that Jenny is dying but doesn’t tell Jenny. But, when Oliver takes Jenny in his arms the last time in the hospital, I dare you not to cry.
Beth and Phillip, Guiding Light: Beth and Phillip made me the fan girl I am of GL. She was a shy girl who loved books. He was the misunderstood rich boy. Together they were a beautiful golden couple. After she was raped by her stepfather, they ran away to New York. They dressed as clowns, read F. Scott Fitzgerald to each other, and dreamed of a life together. A friend of mine says that she decided to become an English major after hearing them read to each other. How many soaps can have that claim to fame? When Beth admitted that she was raped, we cried with Phillip. I’m still surprised that Grant Aleksander wasn’t nominated for an Emmy (Judi Evans was nominated and won in 1984).
Beth and Lujack, Guiding Light: When they paired Beth with Lujack, I thought, “Oh, hell no! She belongs with Phillip! Not with this biker guy who doesn’t even have a real name!” Yet the thing is, Judi Evans and Vincent Irizarry (who played B&L) had the most amazing chemistry as she taught him to read and as he taught her to drive. They were independent and free to live their own lives. When Lujack died onscreen, the thirteen-year-old me could be heard down the block, yelling, “No! No! Damn it, no!!!” (By the way, still bitter about this. But I’ll get over it… someday!)
Bob and Kim, As the World Turns: In 1972, Kim Reynolds came into town to visit her sister, Jennifer, who had just married Dr. Bob Hughes. Kim fell for her brother-in-law, and he was attracted to her. They had an affair, and Kim got pregnant. Trying to protect Jennifer, Kim married bad boy John Dixon, then tried to atone for her sins by becoming the show’s new heroine. Several marriages later, Kim and Bob found themselves in a blizzard where they confessed their love for each other. On Easter morning, 1985, they were married. I watched the wedding with my mother, who said, “It’s about time!” They remained married throughout the run of ATWT. It was fitting that the last scene of the show was them saying goodbye.
Joey and Caitlin, Degrassi Junior High/Degrassi High, Degrassi the Next Generation: He was the class clown who always sported a snazzy fedora. She was the smarty pants reporter who possessed interesting headbands. Together they showed how love could develop in an awkward, shy way. After breaking up in the TV movie Degrassi: School’s Out, they got back together in Degrassi: The Next Generation, only to break up again. Yeah, I’m dizzy, too. Yet it’s a credit to Stacie Mistysyn and Pat Mastroianni (who played J&C) that on Twitter many Degrassi fans tweeted to the show’s writers: “Bring back Joey and Caitlin!” “You should have Joey and Caitlin get MARRIED!” “We want Joey and Caitlin back!” First love doesn’t go gently into the good night.
Judy Collins’ “The Blizzard”: I LOVE this song that tells of a woman finding herself in a café after a breakup. Stuck because of a blizzard (hence the title), she drinks whiskey, then meets someone there who tells her, “You know, you’re too good for him.” While not a traditional love song, it shows that a heart can heal even when you feel like you can barely move. Collins’ version is great, but I also love this cover by Justin Vivian Bond.
Truly Madly Deeply: This is one of my favorite movies, where Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is grieving over her boyfriend (Alan Rickman) who died suddenly. Yet he comes back as a ghost! Nina is so happy to have him back that she doesn’t mind if it’s of a ghostly realm. However, there’s a catch: he moves the furniture around, brings his ghost friends over, and is a pain in the neck to live with. Then, she meets someone else and realizes that in order to live, you must live in the present.
Rose and Eddie, Dogfight: November 21, 1963. Eddie (River Phoenix) is on leave, looking for an ugly girl. He and his friends have a bet; whoever brings the ugliest girl to a party “wins.” Eddie finds Rose (Lilli Taylor) who isn’t ugly, but she is considered plain. What starts off as a cruel prank evolves into two people falling in love the night before the world changed.
DeDe and D’or, Tales of the City series: DeDe Day was a bored socialite, pregnant by an extramarital affair. D’or was an African American model who had secrets. Yet they fell in love, survived the Jonestown tragedy, and proved that a family could face anything together.
Stephen and Tabitha King: One day Steve King was sitting on the grass talking to friends when he noticed this knockout redhead across campus. He found out that her name was Tabitha Spruce. They ended up taking a writing workshop together and discovered that, not only did they love words, they loved each other. They survived poverty, his drug addictions, and his near death from a hit and run in 1999. In his memoir On Writing, King wrote about the day that Tabitha set up an accessible office for him to start writing again, and we love Tabitha even more than he does for her faith in him.
Snake and Spike, Degrassi: The Next Generation: So I was housesitting one summer and watched many episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation when I was there. Since I was a fan of the original show, I was delighted that Snake (Stefan Brogren) and Spike (Amanda Stepto) got married. He was the tall, lanky boy who had bad luck with girls; she was the punk rock girl who got pregnant the first time she had sex. They’re proof, though, that love can come if you’re patient or if you want high ratings for your television show.
Annie and Danny: They weren’t celebrities, this elderly couple from New York. But when StoryCorps was created in 2003, they made a point of going every week to tell stories to each other about how they met, their wedding, and their life together. Danny wrote Annie a love letter every day. Every day! Top that, Bill Shakespeare! When Danny was dying of cancer, StoryCorps came to their apartment so he could give a final interview. The day it was broadcast, he died. Annie received thousands of condolence notes across the country.
Miss Piggy and Kermit: Last, but certainly not least, a couple who has been together through thick and thin, who have stood the test of time. They’re a little offbeat, but you have to adore them.
She’s a pig with anger-management problems. He’s an amphibian who does crazy things with his flippers. When they met, it was love, love, love! He’ll never admit it, but he’s crazy about the girl, and she him (Although she’s the first one to admit it). Together they weathered many trials, made movies, and always had songs in their hearts. Who else can say this?
Now, go out and live your own love story. Don’t forget to have fun.