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7/16/2007 12:44:00 PM
Top five all-time sports/celebrity marriages
Wayne Gretzky couldn't hide his excitement on his wedding day to Janet Jones.
Photo by AP
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
The Beckham Experience was in full effect this weekend. And despite the best recent efforts of Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Posh and Becks are sports' presiding royal couple. But they have an important legacy to uphold. Athletes and celebrities often hook up, though few take the plunge into marriage. Some couples make themselves into celebrities post-marriage (see Benson, Anna), but this list is about genuine stars, two supernovas burning brightly side-by-side. Hopefully with pre-nups.
Here are my top five all-time sports/celebrity marriages.
1. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe: The Yankee Clipper was one of the greatest hitters ever, and he anchored the Yankees for 15 seasons. Marilyn defined "Blonde Bombshell," and was just establishing herself as a movie star when she and Joe D married in 1954. They were married less than a year, but they remain the golden standard for athlete/celebrity power couples.
2. Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones: Perhaps the greatest hockey player of all-time got hitched to one of the most undistinguished actresses of all-time in 1988. (Unless, improbably, you love the film American Anthem, in which case Mrs. Gretzky is a wildly distinguished actress.) Their wedding was broadcast live throughout Canada, and together they drew flashbulbs in LA and, later, New York. Jones reduced her acting workload and went on to be implicated in an alleged gambling ring. Gretzky runs the Phoenix Coyotes. They are still married.
3. Ahmad Rashad and Phylicia Ayers-Allen: Rashad was a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who, by the 1980s, had moved on to a career in sportscasting. In 1985, Rashad asked Ayers-Allen, who was then starring on the most popular show on television, The Cosby Show, to marry him during an NFL pregame show. Though they divorced in 2001, they both remain in the public eye, Ayers-Allen acting on Broadway and television, Rashad appearing on NBA TV.
4. John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal: The daughter of Ryan O'Neal and an Oscar winner at the age of 10, Tatum also proved to be an excellent pitcher in The Bad News Bears. The fiery McEnroe was the No. 1 tennis player in the world and was coming off a ridiculous 1984 season where he finished with a record of 82-3, winning 13 tournaments. They wed in 1986. McEnroe was never again as dominant and O'Neal has yet to be nominated for another Academy Award. They stayed married for 16 years, divorcing in 2002. McEnroe later married former Scandal lead singer Patti Smyth and hosted one of the most awkward talk shows of all-time.
5. Mike Tyson and Robin Givens: Tyson was once the heavyweight champion of the world, back when that phrase used to mean something. He was a dynamo in the ring, destroying opponent after opponent. Givens starred on the popular Head Of The Class. They married in 1988, and soon after appeared on 20/20, where Givens bluntly described their union as "worse than anything I could possibly imagine" -- while they were still married! They divorced soon after, and Tyson began what could generously be called a downward spiral. Givens also failed to recapture her previous levels of fame.
Did we forget anyone? Give us more famous celebrity couples…
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com