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The top husband-wife screen couples of all time

By Laurie Bennett

June 6, 2013 at 12:37pm

When asked about loyalty to his wife, Paul Newman famously replied, “Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?”

He and Joanne Woodward had one of the great Hollywood marriages, on screen and off. They married in 1958, after filming “The Long Hot Summer,” and stayed together until Newman’s death in 2008.

Not every couple on our list of top 10 husband-wife movie couples had the same longevity. But all left their mark on the film canon.

Click on the couple names below to see Muckety maps of their movies.

1. JOANNE WOODWARD and PAUL NEWMAN

We count 16 collaborative movies. Joint projects over their five decades together included “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge,” “Rachel, Rachel” and “The Glass Menagerie,” which Newman directed. Their last movie together was “Empire Falls,” which aired as an HBO mini-series in 2005.

2. ELIZABETH TAYLOR and RICHARD BURTON

Taylor and Burton, twice married and twice divorced in real life, specialized in portraying the dark side of marriage. Their most memorable films together are “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “The Taming of the Shrew.”

So it’s not surprising that their final collaboration, a TV movie, was called “Divorce His - Divorce Hers.”

Burton and Taylor in
Burton and Taylor in “Cleopatra.”

3. JESSICA TANDY and HUME CRONYN

Married for 52 years, until Tandy’s death in 1994, the two were a Hollywood constellation. Their movies included “Cocoon,” “The Green Years,” “The Seventh Cross” and “The Gin Game.”

4. JOAN CRAWFORD and FRANCHOT TONE

While not as well known as other couples on our list, the Crawford-Tone relationship produced seven movies.

They were married for just four years, from 1935 to 1939, after Crawford’s divorce from Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Crawford actually made more movies with her lover, Clark Gable.

5. KYRA SEDGWICK and KEVIN BACON

It’s rare to find a Hollywood couple whose careers are so evenly matched. While Bacon found success in Hollywood, Sedgwick established herself on the small screen with her hit show, “The Closer.”

Their shared credits include such movies as “Pyrates,” “The Woodsman” and “Cavedweller.”

6. AMY MADIGAN and ED HARRIS

Harris and Madigan have been married for 30 years, having met on the set of “Places in the Heart.” Since then, they’ve worked together on such films as “Pollock” and “Gone Baby Gone.”

7. RITA WILSON and TOM HANKS

Is there a more likeable couple in Hollywood?

The two frequently work together, not always in front of the camera, but sometimes as producers. Yet Wilson has not played the leading lady to her hubby’s leading man. She’s much better as the wisecracking friend or family member.

One of our favorite scenes is the two of them as brother and sister, discussing chick flicks in “Sleepless in Seattle.”

8. RUBY DEE and OSSIE DAVIS

Had the two been born a few decades later, when black actors began landing starring roles in major movies, we might have seen much more of them on screen.

Dee is best known for her roles in “A Raisin in the Sun” and “American Gangster” - movies that did not feature Davis. They appeared together in such films as “Jungle Fever” and “Do the Right Thing.”

9. LAUREN BACALL and HUMPHREY BOGART

Their list of shared credits is far too short, largely because of their difference in age. Bacall was just 32 when Bogart died in 1957.

Yet their joint efforts include such classics as “Key Largo,” “The Big Sleep” and “To Have and Have Not.”

10. VIVIEN LEIGH and LAURENCE OLIVIER

Leigh and Olivier, both previously married, were wed in 1940, with Katharine Hepburn and Garson Kanin serving as their witnesses.

The pair’s attempts to work together were often stymied by Hollywood execs. Leigh lost the lead actress role in “Rebecca” to Joan Fontaine. Greer Garson landed the part she sought in “Pride and Prejudice.”

They did co-star in “Fire Over England,” “21 Days Together” and “That Hamilton Woman.”

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