The secret to a successful marriage is never just one thing. What may work for one couple may backfire for another, so taking the same cookie-cutter approach to keeping a relationship strong is sure to end in disaster. Every marriage is one of a kind, and so to make one work, your approach has to be just as unique.
Even for a legendary Hollywood icon like Jeff Bridges, it took more than just a few “I love yous” to keep his marriage together. Now, after more than four decades with his wife Susan, Jeff has finally come forward with the secret to his lasting relationship and he’s spilling all the details.
In an industry notorious for revolving-door relationships, Jeff Bridges and Susan Geston are an exception to the rule. Their marriage has weathered even the toughest of Hollywood storms, though their 42-year journey together had a pretty unusual beginning.
Born in Los Angeles California, on December 4, 1949, Jeff Bridges seemed destined to be a star. His father, Lloyd Bridges, was already a well-respected actor, and in 1951, Jeff made his feature film debut in The Company She Keeps at the age of two.
Jeff went on to appear in many notable projects in the following years, though his big break came in 1971 when he landed the role of Duane Jackson in The Last Picture Show. At just 22, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
But as he’d soon find out, his role in 1975’s Rancho Deluxe was his most significant yet. His performance didn’t earn him any award nominations, but it was during this time that he came across something even better: the love of his life.
While filming scenes at a Montana Roadhouse, Jeff couldn’t help but notice a young woman waiting on a few of the tables nearby. “I knew I was madly in love with [her] the minute I saw her,” he once recalled to Conan O’Brien.
That waitress, of course, was Susan Geston, a native of Fargo, North Dakota, working to pay her way through college. But even with a Hollywood pedigree like his, Jeff was still too shy to talk to her at first.
In fact, Jeff actually hid behind a magazine during their first encounter, stealing quick glances at her as she waited on customers. Finally, Jeff managed to muster up the courage to ask her out — and, believe it or not, she said no!
This was surely a huge blow to Jeff’s ego, and with the film wrapping in the coming days, a life with Susan seemed no more than wishful thinking. Well, Jeff’s wish wound up coming true, as after Susan showed up at the Rancho Deluxe wrap party, the two got to talking and hit it off.
Their relationship blossomed, and after a quick return trip to LA, Jeff made his way back to Montana for Susan. After loading up a rented RV, the couple then headed for the west coast, choosing to settle down at Jeff’s Malibu home.
Several years passed, and Jeff was content to remain in a committed relationship — Susan, however, wanted more. But when faced with the prospect of marriage and starting a family, Jeff wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.
“I don’t know how it is for women or for other guys, but when I was young and in my 20s, I had a fear of marriage,” he told Reader’s Digest. “I thought it was a giant step toward death. So I did everything in my power to resist it — the idea was frightening to me, man.”
With the couple at odds over their future, Susan opted to move out, though the couple continued to date one another exclusively. But when Susan got a job offer that threatened to take her back to Montana, Jeff came to an immediate realization: she was, and always would be, the “one.”
“I said, ‘Oh God, I can’t let this woman go,'” Jeff recounted in a 2015 interview with OWN. “I had this vision of an old guy thinking there was this girl from Montana, man, why didn’t I marry her.”
And so, not wanting to become the man from his vision, Jeff did just that. On June 5, 1977 – just five days after he’d proposed – Jeff and Susan tied the knot.
As expected, the transition to married life wasn’t an easy one for Jeff, and the early days of his marriage with Susan weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Gradually, however, Jeff began to realize that married life wasn’t the “death trap” he once envisioned it to be.
“What you don’t know until you get married is that you think all the other doors close, which is true, but this doorway you open [with marriage] is a hallway lined with all these other brilliant doors — kids, deeper intimacy, adventures, and everything else,” Jeff explained.
This newfound perspective also helped Jeff and Susan deal with disagreements, of which there were many in the early years of their marriage. According to Jeff, the couple learned to hear each other out, sitting face to face and letting the other speak uninterrupted so their feelings could be acknowledged.
It seems this method has worked wonders for their relationship, as 42 years later, Jeff and Susan have built an incredible life together. The couple has three adult daughters – Isabelle, Jessica, and Haley – and one grandchild to go with them.
But perhaps the most surprising success that the actor attributes to his wife is his legendary film career. While it was the gruff, long-haired Jeff that captivated us on screen, it was Susan’s work behind the scenes that really made it all happen.
“In the  years we’ve been married, we’ve done 50 movies together,” Jeff wrote. “I say ‘we’ because Sue deserves a credit too. I’m the guy who makes the buck, but she’s the one who takes care of everything else. I really am more in love with her than ever.”
Surprisingly, Jeff and Susan aren’t the only couple to have built a lasting love in the glare of the spotlight. For over 30 years, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have been the poster couple for Hollywood relationships built to last. But the early days of Kurt and Goldie weren’t exactly your typical start to a decades-old love story, either.
They met while shooting 1968’s The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, when Goldie was 23 and Kurt was just 17. It wouldn’t be love at first sight for the young actors, however, as the two shared no screen time and soon went their separate ways.
Yet Goldie’s work on the Disney musical wasn’t all for naught, as her performance soon attracted the attention of major Hollywood producers. Making the switch from go-go dancer to full-time actress, Goldie’s first major film role in Cactus Flower earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1969.
Meanwhile, Kurt put his silver-screen dreams on hold to pursue his lifelong passion: baseball. The young switch-hitter built a solid career for himself with the Class AA El Paso Sun Kings, though an injury in 1973 forced him into retirement.
It was then back to the acting game for Kurt, who found success in television this time around. Not only did his leading role in the 1979 biopic Elvis earn him an Emmy nomination, but it also led him to meet his first wife, Season Hubley.
By this time, Goldie had already been divorced once, though she soon found love again with musician Bill Hudson. The two wed in 1976, welcoming a son, Oliver, later that year and a daughter, Kate, in 1979.
But it seemed these marriages weren’t built to last, as Goldie and Hudson divorced in ’82; Kurt and Hubley followed suit a year later. Both newly single, it wouldn’t be long before the two stars found their way back to one another for good.
Sixteen years after their first film together, Goldie and Kurt were formally introduced after being cast in 1984’s Swing Shift. Kurt was smitten from the start, and Goldie, who was just as charmed, decided she’d like to get to know her co-star a little better off set.
The two had their first date at The Playboy Club, swing-dancing the night away as a kind of “field research” for their upcoming film. It was the beginning of something special for the two stars, yet their undeniable chemistry wasn’t the only selling point of the relationship.
As Oliver and Kate began spending more time with Kurt, it was clear he was ready to be the father that Bill Hudson never was. “What really got me was when I watched my kids when they’d come to the set and how he was with them,” said Goldie. “He was amazing with them.”
But not only did Kurt become a father to Goldie’s children, he also became one for real when the couple welcomed Wyatt Russell in 1986. With Kurt’s son from his first marriage, Boston, in the mix, the blended Russell-Hawn family was making headlines everywhere.
With all eyes on Hollywood’s newest power couple, it was only a matter of time before they were paired up once again on the big screen, this time for 1987’s Overboard. The rom-com was a box-office success, proving that Kurt and Goldie were a match made in heaven both on screen and off… or were they?
By the late ’90s, rumors had begun to swirl that all was not well with the happy couple. Both Kurt and Goldie had been spotted in the company of others, and with no rings on their fingers, people just had to know: had they split, or had this been an open relationship all along?
The answer, it seemed, was neither, though Goldie never shied away from discussing the temptations that made her relationship with Kurt rocky at times: “I’m sure I’ve been party to it, and Kurt’s been – we’re all normal this way…There is an elasticity to the relationship. Otherwise it’s going to break, just like a rubber band.”
Both Goldie and Kurt attributed the longevity of their relationship to the fact that they’ve never gotten married. “Basically, once you’ve done it once, once you’ve done it twice, you realize that marriage, or the act of marrying has nothing to do with success,” Goldie said.
This belief, it seems, was also one shared by their children, who have spoken out often in support of their parents’ relationship. In fact, the couple once approached their kids to ask if they should get married, to which the entire family replied with a resounding “no.”
Still, that didn’t stop Kurt and Goldie from making their union “official” by having a non-wedding ceremony. And if you ever catch a glance at Goldie’s ring finger, you’ll spot a band of dazzling diamonds, no doubt given to her by her lifelong love.
For Kurt and Goldie, however, marriage and children never defined them. In Goldie’s words, “being together, two pillars holding up the house and the roof, and being different, not having to agree on everything, learning how to deal with not agreeing,” is what makes their relationship so special.
Married or not, Kurt and Goldie will always be together — or at least, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame they will be. The two were given side-by-side stars in a joint ceremony, though it was what Kurt said to Goldie on that day that truly spoke to the depth of their relationship.
“To you, I owe my wonderful life,” Kurt said to her as the teary-eyed actress looked on. “Simply put, Goldie, I cherish you, and all the stars in the sky or on the boulevard can’t hold a candle to that.”
Kurt and Goldie are certainly a rare case, but, surprisingly, they aren’t the only Hollywood superstars to have made a long-term relationship work. Sam Elliott, for example, also found his happily ever after, though his path to his one true love wasn’t an easy one.
With his bushy mustache and a voice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Sam Elliott is a Hollywood star like no other. But for all the appearances he’s made on the big screen, he’s surprisingly tight-lipped about his personal journey.
Despite being born in California, Sam always identified with Texas, where his family lived for generations. Perhaps foreshadowing his eventual proclivity for Western roles, he even had an ancestor who fought at the Battle of the Alamo.
As a boy, Sam harbored dreams of making it big in show business, though he knew his salt-of-the-earth parents wouldn’t approve. Once he reached his college years, however, Sam decided to go for it.
He won the lead in a production of Guys and Dolls, which earned him rave reviews in the local press. Sam hoped this would legitimize his career aspirations in the eyes of his family. Still, his father told him that acting was nothing but a dead end.
Sadly, Sam’s father never believed in his dream. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1966, just as Sam was about to wrap up his collegiate studies. The tragedy made the aspiring actor reconsider his entire life plan.
While he would always crave closure with his family, Sam ultimately decided to chase his dream and move to Los Angeles. He later reflected, “I think on some levels that was either hard on me or made me more focused in my resolve to have a career.”
Job offers didn’t immediately pop up for Sam. He worked in construction just to pay the bills, but this gig proved more fruitful than he expected. Sam got a job working on the house of an assistant director, who introduced him to contacts at Universal Pictures.
He made his first feature film appearance in 1969’s classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, though it was just a bit part. He admired the female lead, Katherine Ross, from afar. However, the two of them never met during that production.
20th Century Fox
Subsequently, Sam racked up a number of TV credits, and this time — thankfully — all his characters had names. He became a familiar face to audiences with appearances in shows like Mission: Impossible. Still, he was hungry for something bigger.
Fighting hard for a lead film role, Elliot finally got his breakthrough in the 1976 drama Lifeguard. It didn’t make any critics’ all-time-greats list, but it did raise Sam’s status. It also brought an old figure back into his life.
During the production of 1978’s The Legacy, Sam came full circle with Katherine Ross. Though they never shared a scene on Butch Cassidy, this film had them spending every waking moment together. Their chemistry wasn’t only for the cameras either.
Sam and Katherine grappled with romantic feelings for each other, but it was complicated. She was married to an assistant director named Gaetano Lisi, after all. Katherine would have to make a choice.
Fortunately for Sam, Katherine was willing to risk it all. She divorced Gaetano in 1979, right as the two of them entered a relationship. They tied the knot in 1984. It was Sam’s first marriage, but Katherine’s fifth!
Unlike Katherine’s past unions, however, this marriage was built to last. That year, they also welcomed a daughter, Cleo Rose, into the world. Meanwhile, Sam’s career really started to heat up.
Going toe-to-toe with Cher, Sam earned rave reviews for his turn as a biker with a heart of gold in Mask. He showed that he really had range, yet found himself pigeonholed as certain characters throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
Maybe it was just because he was a natural cowboy, but Sam found his way into an overwhelming amount of Westerns. Many were huge hits like Tombstone, but Sam still felt frustrated by the lack of originality in the Hollywood machine.
Was this really what he risked his father’s disapproval for, Sam wondered. He made an effort to go more against type, or at least get involved in more offbeat projects. Film fans will always love him, for example, for his part in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski.
But overall, Sam realized his commitment to be himself — and to his beloved stache — was costing him big-time roles. He drew praise for his part as General Thunderbolt Ross in Hulk, for instance, but later got cut out of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
Now on the wrong side of 70, Elliott couldn’t help but feel that he still had more to offer. He thought his talents were fresher than ever, though showbiz wasn’t known for its friendliness toward aging actors. Still, his renaissance was just around the corner.
In 2018, Elliott appeared with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the third-time remake A Star Is Born. Critics and audiences alike adored the film, and Sam ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Although he didn’t get the little gold statue, in the end, Sam still felt as blessed as ever. He had a loving wife, a wonderful daughter, and the acclaim to go in any direction he wanted for the rest of his career.
Sam Elliott had some great behind-the-scenes stories from A Star Is Born, too. Bradley Cooper’s country twang was convincing because he studied Sam’s voice and accent way before he asked him to portray his older brother in the film.
It’s no wonder Elliot was drawn to A Star is Born — there just seemed to be a bit of magic in Cooper’s creation. For instance, the love scenes between Jackson and Ally are cute, but the most adorable thing about A Star Is Born might be Charlie, the pup they adopt together. Charlie is actually Bradley’s real dog!
Just like Ally, Lady Gaga felt pressured to become more of a pretty pop icon than she originally wanted. She broke through with singles like “Just Dance,” but her abilities are much wider than just catchy pop songs. Of course, now she can do what she wants!
As co-writer, director, producer, and lead actor, Bradley surely got to have a say when it came to casting. He hired several of his friends, including comedian Dave Chappelle. While he doesn’t joke around that much, he still provides comic relief.
Were you crying along with Ally’s tribute to her husband at the end of the film? Gaga had just learned that her longtime friend had died of cancer, so she channeled all her emotion into the scene. The tears you see are real.
There was almost no CGI used in the filming of A Star Is Born, so the crowds at all Ally’s and Jackson’s concerts are real. They actually performed the songs live at several festivals to get the shots, and the music-loving crowd definitely didn’t mind!
As a small shoutout to the 1976 version of the movie, Jackson traces Ally’s nose just like Kris Kristofferson did with Barbra Streisand. He admires her nose, about which Ally (and Gaga, and Streisand) used to feel pretty insecure. Can you handle the intimacy?
Bradley Cooper is definitely a fan of foreshadowing. The first example happens when Ally sings to Jackson in the parking lot: she is filmed from a low angle, looking strong, while he is looking up at her in admiration, signifying her future stardom.
If you wondered why the scene where Jackson meets Ally is set in a drag bar, you weren’t the only one. Gaga has received tremendous support from the LGBT+ community throughout her career, so the location was set to honor her queer fans.
We all knew Lady Gaga is a musical powerhouse, but who knew Bradley Cooper was so multi-talented as well!? He worked incredibly hard to sharpen his vocal cords, and the two made a smashing hit soundtrack that we can’t stop listening to.
As a tiny tribute to former Star Is Born star, Judy Garland, Ally hums “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which Judy sings in The Wizard Of Oz. It also signifies Ally’s hopes and dreams despite her manager trying to bring her down.
Not only has Gaga gone through similar situations as Ally, Bradley knew all too well what it was like to be in Jackson’s shoes. He struggled with substance addiction and thoughts of suicide for years. Luckily he has been clean for nearly 15 years!
“Hey!” “What?” “I just wanted to take another look at you.” The most iconic line of the movie that melted our hearts is wonderfully delivered, but not originally written! It appears in every version of the film, and it’s magical each time around.
Why “La Vie En Rose”? A lot of viewers were unable to understand Ally’s French performance that makes Jackson swoon, but it’s a very significant song. Lady Gaga sang it during the first time Bradley ever saw her sing live, and that’s when he knew he needed to cast her.
Does Jackson Maine remind you of anyone? Since Bradley is not a rockstar himself, he based his character on The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He also followed Eddie Vedder on tour for a bit to add that to the mix.
Perhaps the sweetest scene between our star-crossed lovers is when Ally applies makeup to Jackson in the tub. There is a tub scene in the Barbra Streisand version, as well as a little man-makeover. Of course, both leads can rock a bare face as well as some good liner.
In case you missed it, there is a big foreshadowing moment early in the movie. Before Jackson meets Ally, he sees a billboard for suicide prevention, complete with nooses and all. He was depressed before she came into his life, and their love was only a temporary relief.
On a happier note, Bradley Cooper’s real-life hearing doctor got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was asked to basically play himself in the movie. It was a quick little scene, but this doc surely never thought he’d make it to the big screen!
None of the drag queens’ lines were scripted. During the scene where Jackson goes backstage to talk to Ally, he asked the real queens to just be themselves, and act as they usually would. So, every joke they make at Jackson’s expense is their true sense of humor!
The wedding scene touched all of our hearts, but did you get a good look at Ally’s dress? There’s a reason why it’s so ’70s style, unlike the rest of her wardrobe. The dress is in honor of Barbra Streisand’s personal clothes, which were used for her version of the film.