It appears that a few weeks ago, actor Jeff Goldbum, 61, proposed to his girlfriend Emilie Livingston, a 31-year-old former Olympic gymnast from Canada. This is the third marriage for Goldblum; he was once married to actress Patricia Gaul and also, fascinatingly, to Geena Davis.
To celebrate this new engagement to the first slightly non-actress Goldblum will marry, let's take a trip down memory lane and remember his last marriage.
Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum: Married 11/1/1987 – Divorced 10/17/1990
Geena Davis: A League of Their Own. Archery. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Jeff Goldblum: Shirtless in Jurassic Park.
Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum, when slapped together, were pure Hollywood. They shared a private acting coach. They had an interior designer. It was the meeting of two strikingly tall people beloved for their brainy gifts. As Liz Smith wrote of their marriage when they were still together, "These two sound delightful!"
Love at first bite
Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum met in Yugoslavia on the set of the horror-comedy Transylvania 6-500 when she was in her late twenties and he was in his early thirties. GQ described the pair in "love at first, uh, bite" in a feature article about how they were "Hollywood's Most Adorable Couple." Goldblum was immediately interested in Davis:
"I'm sitting there watching the dailies, and Ed Begley Jr. (their costar in the film and a friend of Goldblum's since the early Seventies) comes into the screening room with this stunning, this gorgeous girl, gorgeously shy," Goldblum remembers, his face rapturous. "He starts to introduce her to everyone in the room, clockwise. I'm last, and by the time they get to me I'm thinking, Unnh, ahh, oh, this is bad, this is awful, I really like this woman and she's not going to like me. How can I ever make her like me?"
But back in Los Angeles, far away from Yugoslavia, the pair struggled with an issue many young lovers deal with; namely, playing it too cool. As Davis explained:
"For some reason I decided that Jeff liked me only because he thought I was cool, aloof, and he thought the same thing about me. Finally, he takes me out to dinner one night, all serious, and I'm thinking, Uh-oh, I knew this was coming, and he says, 'We can't see each other anymore. I really like you, and you don't like me.' So I say, 'No, I really like you, too,' and that was it. I have this idea about people in your life. I think you recognize them, that they're right for you. I recognized Jeff."
The two would go on to make two other movies together in the subsequent years: The Fly, a film in which Goldblum is turned into a fly, and Earth Girls Are Easy. The former movie includes the line "Those weird hairs that were growing out of your back...I had them analyzed. They were definitely not human" and shots like this:
And, of course, I'm wildly attracted to her
Anyway, moving on: By the limited accounts available where the couple spoke about their marriage, from the start, Goldblum seemed stricken with Davis and she of him. But besides the GQ article where they positively gush about each other, the pair were quite tight-lipped when it came to details about their relationship. Even while they were doing press for The Fly and rumors were um, flying about their relationship, they denied they were anything more than friends.
The pair clearly loved working together; an extensive portion of the GQ interview is devoted to them recapping how they watched the Academy Award nominations together multiple years in a row to find out whether Goldblum would be nominated for The Fly (he was not) and whether Davis would be nominated for The Accidental Tourist (she was, and won). Of their time on The Fly, Davis said, "It was the most fulfilling work experience I've had. We have similar ideas and tastes. We really play well off each other."
That didn't mean, however, that their relationship wasn't plagued with the trappings of an actor who is in a relationship with another actor. Many of those problems seem to, in hindsight, have fallen slightly more on Goldblum's shoulders:
"Geena made love, falling in love, so easy. She's purely loving, beguiling - irresistible. Steps would be taken gradually sometimes, and sometimes it swept along. And, of course, I'm wildly attracted to her. Wildly attracted. We'd talk about marriage, bring up the idea more and more often over a period of months. We could, we should, wouldn't it be romantic? We would act out small scenes of life together: 'Hi, honey, you got some mail today.' It was very sexy."
GQ described their eventual wedding as "a sudden, comic production" in Vegas attended by Ed Begley Jr. and his then-wife Ingrid Taylor:
Goldblum and Davis thought that the Begleys should renew their wedding vows; the Begleys were convinced Goldblum and Davis were luring them to a chapel to get married themselves. "So Jeff says, 'Why not?' and they all start heading for a taxi," Davis remembers. "I'm like, 'Wait, you're kidding, right?' and I burst into tears. See, I was a girl who cut wedding-gown pictures out of magazines. Jeff takes me outside, I calm down and start to think it would be fun, but I'm afraid I've wrecked it by crying. But finally about 2 A.M. we all go off and do it. We have this nightmare video. We all look slightly stunned."
At the point of this 1989 interview, the two had discussed having children. But again, Goldblum's actor-actoriness seems to get in the way. Davis mentions how "Jeff has this idea that when we agree on a name, I'll instantly get pregnant. But you should hear the names he comes up with: Sophie, Jasper, Fuji." Seriously considering naming your child Fuji in 1989, before Gwyneth Paltrow's Apple was born, was probably not a sign that someone was ready to procreate. And years later, Goldblum would say that he'd never really wanted to have kids.
No Fuji in the future
The end came as quickly as their relationship began; on October 14, 1990, Davis filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, writing that the two had been separated since September of that year. The separation coincided with the end of Davis's time spent on the set of Thelma & Louise. Perhaps it was the appearance of Young Brad Pitt Shirtless that threatened Goldblum or made Davis realize what was out there. Though in an interview with People in 1991, Davis denied that the feminist movie inspired her to "Thelma-fy" her life (their phrase):
She grins. "That would be a great story. 'Does the movie, comes home and says...'"
She says very little, actually, when it comes to Goldblum. Davis won't reveal why they split, but she misses their off-kilter onscreen chemistry. She says that she and Jeff are "on the phone all the time, and we see each other occasionally." She even predicts they may work together again. "Life is funny," she says. "That was always an appealing part of it. When I work, I like to be immersed. I didn't mind at all the fact that we were sort of living it 24 hours a day. We usually ended up in sync with it. I'm sure we're both pretty sad. We certainly had high hopes, every good intention. It's upsetting."
The most Davis would imply was that sometimes, when you're married to a funny person, when the laughter stops, things get hard:
"I always think of that episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show," Davis says. "Laura was mad at Rob, and some neighbor just then said, 'You're so lucky you're married to Rob, you guys just laugh all day long, have nothing but fun.' And Laura said [gritting teeth, rolling eyes, seething], 'Oh, yeah, it's just a barrel of laughs.' You knew she was pissed about this thing, but other people's perceptions are that it's just perfect, he's the funniest guy. This is not a reflection on Jeff. I mean, it can apply equally to me. We were a normal couple and had all kinds of experiences. We weren't sitting around just laughing all day, putting on shows for each other."
Despite how surprising the breakup was to the world, it seemed about as cordial as divorce can get. In fact, Goldblum told People in 1992 that the pair still saw each other after divorcing and implied that they were probably still hooking up:
"We're both independent types, unconventional and free-spirited," muses Goldblum about their 1990 divorce. "I think we were lucky to get together, and we both had a great time."
These days, the two are replaying the good times, seeing each other once a week or so. On a recent Sunday afternoon, Geena, Jeff, sister Pam and her boyfriend, artist Jeffrey Keisershot, lolled around Goldblum's pool and later dyed Easter eggs. "I love Geena," Pam says. "I'm really glad they are buddies." Says Goldblum: "We're close and soothingly caring toward each other." Any remarriage in sight? "I don't know," he says. "I don't predict anything."
But other rumors suggested that things were a bit more dramatic. An article in the Telegraph implies that it all came to an end with a bit of a partner swap, when Goldblum moved in with Laura Dern after meeting on the set of Jurassic Park in 1992, while Davis married filmmaker Renny Harlin, Dern's former boyfriend.
Davis married Harlin, in 1993 and they separated in 1997. They worked together, but their films weren't deemed as successful as anything Davis and Goldblum did together, even though the Davis-Goldblum movies were weird and cult-filmy. Dern and Goldblum got engaged, and then unengaged, doing the on-again/off-again thing for awhile, until rumors started that she left him for Billy Bob Thorton. Weirdly enough, both the Davis-Harlin and Goldblum-Dern breakups were mentioned in the same extensive People article from August 1997 about how that summer was "anything but the Summer of Love." For her part, Davis denied that the start of Goldblum's relationship with Dern had anything to do with the the start of hers with Harlin, saying that, "Both relationships were completely ancient history."
A million invisible stars
The tale of Geena Davis and Jeff Golblum is one of a relationship that seemed so full of promise and longevity, destined to end up in the Celebrity Relationship Hall of Fame with Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. (Unfortunately, we now know how Robbins and Sarandon ended.) In her ode to Davis and Goldblum, GQ writer Johanna Schneller penned the following beautiful words:
In the end, the true story of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis isn't a Hollywood love story at all. It's just a love story. She leans over the seat and smooths back his hair, he smiles, and suddenly everything else on Beverly Boulevard, all the imported palm trees and imported cars, all the man-made vistas and high-tension wires, disappears and they're alone. Somewhere up about are a million invisible stars.
Alone together until they were in fact, finally, alone apart.
Image via Alan Light