Stars Who Were Forbidden From Being Together

What's the most powerful force in the universe? Greed? Power? Magnets? No, none of those things, you cynical romance-Scrooge — it's love! Love is the most divine of all human emotions, the force that drives us to get up in the morning and potentially risk everything in search of that one person we supposedly can't live without. Nothing can stop love on its quest for kissy-faced and swoony world domination.

Well, that's simply not true

Fear can kill love, as can the threat of harm, prison, or the presence of cultural norms regarding some kinds of love as anything but lovely. Bosses, parents, and other disapproving parties can and will do their part to end a relationship if they think it's wrong or not in the best interests of the so-called lovebirds. 

Here are some celebrities who thought they'd found love but couldn't quite let Cupid rear back his chubby little arm and shoot that magic arrow because their romance was straight-up forbidden.

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon

Love is, as they say, a many-splendored thing. What reason would anyone have to prevent two people who just want to spend their lives together from doing that? Well, it varies by culture, but one such taboo is incest — most people are not okay with siblings hooking up, even if one of them is adopted. 

At Whitney Houston's funeral in 2012, the world learned that the singer had a "secret" son named Nick Gordon. Though not her biological child, Houston had reportedly raised him like a son since the early '90s, but had never formally adopted him. Houston's biological daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, considered Gordon a brother ... and, it would seem, as something more. According to ABC News, Gordon and Brown took their relationship to the next level — the romantic one — not long after Houston died. 

In 2013, the couple announced its engagement. In response to the relationship's many haters, Brown wrote on her Facebook page: "Let me clear up something, we aren't even real brother and sister." She also claimed her Houston had approved because "Mommy was the one who even said that she knew that we were going to start dating." 

The couple never married, which meant that without family visitation rights, it was hard for Gordon to visit Bobbi Kristina when she was hospitalized in a coma and dying following a suspicious incident involving Gordon, drugs, and a bathtub in 2015. Gordon claimed Bobbi Kristina's father, former pop star Bobby Brown, would not grant him access to his sister/fiancée.

R. Kelly and Aaliyah

Another strong and widely agreed upon romantic taboo: major age differences. Okay, so it seems some May-December romances are tolerated — Hugh Hefner kept getting older, but his girlfriends stayed the same age. It's the relationships between one party that's well into adulthood and another that is nowhere near 18 that grosses out the masses and alerts the cops. (There's a term for this kind of thing: pedophilia.) 

If ages aren't considered, this story just seems like the tale of an ill-fated pop music power couple: In 1994, R. Kelly and Aaliyah secretly wed. The problem is that at the time, R. Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15 (and she'd just released her very unfortunately-titled, R. Kelly-produced debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number.) While the late Aaliyah never actually said she'd married the R&B super-producer and aficionado of nontraditional and possibly illegal sexual pursuits,
Vibe and other outlets published the marriage certificate, issued by the state of Illinois, which apparently wasn't real big on checking IDs, because Aaliyah's age is listed as "18." 

When Aaliyah's family found out about the marriage, it asked for and received an annulment. That was the end of Aaliyah's personal and professional relationship with Kelly.

Jean Harlow and William Powell

Let's all of us take a trip back to the 1930s, when celebrities' love lives were just as scandalous as they are today, but when movie studios put great effort into making sure the public thought its matinee idols were as wholesome as a glass of milk. 

Under the Old Hollywood "studio system" of the era, stars' contracts included "morality clauses," which determined how they lived their off-screen lives. The studios really wanted to sell the idea that movie stars were single, unattached, and attainable ... and yet also chaste. (That's a Catch-22 if there ever was one.)

Jean Harlow, one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1930s thanks to hit movies such as Hell's Angels, Red Dust, and Reckless, had a morality clause in her MGM contract which prevented her from walking down the aisle. So, instead of marrying actor William Powell, her co-star in Reckless, Harlow just had an affair with the guy ... and she got pregnant. 

According to E.J. Fleming's book The Fixers (via Vanity Fair), Harlow called up MGM head of publicity Howard Strickling, a Hollywood "fixer," and he allegedly arranged for her to check into a hospital under the name "Jean Carpenter" in order to "get some rest." (Harlow was so longer pregnant, or in violation of her morality clause, upon check out.)

Kim Novak and Sammy Davis Jr.

In 1957, Rat Packer Sammy Davis Jr. reportedly invited actress Kim Novak, who had just starred in Vertigo, to the Chez Paree nightclub in Chicago to watch him sing, but he didn't get a moment alone with her. So, he asked mutual friend Tony Curtis to set something up. Curtis threw a party and invited them both — Novak and Davis hit it off. 

"I could see right from the beginning that they were getting along in an intense way, and that was the beginning of the relationship," Curtis later told Vanity Fair. Someone at the party called in the hot-couple alert to gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, who wrote this not-at-all blind item: "Which top female movie star (K.N.) is seriously dating which big-name entertainer (S.D.)?" 

According to Vanity Fair, Novak and Davis enjoyed quiet meals and trysts together in a futile attempt to avoid Columbia Pictures' allegedly aggressive and controlling head honcho, Harry Cohn, and his many studio spies. For as great as the '50s were for fashion and film, it was also a super racist time. If news of an interracial relationship came to fruition, Davis and Novak's careers could be over, or worse. To avoid a hit Cohn allegedly ordered through his many Mob connections, Davis was reportedly forced to marry an African-American singer named Loray White. "Davis offered her a lump sum (between $10,000 and $25,000) to marry him and act as his wife," reported the Smithsonian magazine. "She agreed." That put an end to anything he had going with Novak.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles

It's hard to believe there was anyone who didn't adore the "People's Princess," but there was, in fact, one man who didn't want to be married to Lady Diana Spencer, aka Princess Diana ... and that man was Prince Charles. The royals made shocking history when they divorced in 1996 after 15 years of marriage because royals divorcing simply wasn't done. But that was kind of the end result of not doing other things simply because it wasn't proper. 

Throughout their marriage, Prince Charles allegedly carried on an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, a woman he married in 2005. Their love story reportedly dates back to around 1972, when Charles and Camilla grew close while her then-boyfriend, Andrew Parker-Bowles, was out of the country serving in the military. She wasn't technically married, and he was unattached, so why didn't the prince propose? According to Sally Bedell Smith's biography Prince Charles (via PopSugar), Camilla seemed to be um, experienced, to Charles, and apparently a lady who doesn't metaphorically qualify to wear white on her wedding day is not a lady eligible to marry the future king of England. Camilla's family supposedly wasn't keen on Charles, either. 

In early 1973, Charles shipped off for his military service, Andrew returned to London, and Andrew's brother and Camilla's father reportedly froze out Charles. According to PopSugar, those sneaky relatives published a fake engagement notice in a major London newspaper, forcing Andrew to propose to Camilla for real.

Mickey Rooney and Ava Gardner

Ava Gardner is one of the silver screen's all-time beauties, a stunning brunette who could be mistaken for the impossible love child of Vivian Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, and Katharine Hepburn. It's no big surprise that guys were really into her. Gardner was married three times. Her third husband was Frank Sinatra, who was charismatic, attractive, and talented enough to seem like a worthy mate, but her first marriage was the one that people close to her tried their best to undo.

Somehow, goofy, aww-shucks, let's-put-on-a-show Mickey Rooney won the heart of Miss Gardner. In 1942, the Mickster announced he was going to make an honest woman out of her, at which point MGM boss Louis B. Mayer reportedly called Rooney, an employee, into his office, but not to congratulate him. According to the Old Hollywood podcast You Must Remember This (via Slate), Mayer told Rooney the wedding wasn't going to happen. Rooney protested, as it's a free country and he was the captain of his life. 

"It's not your life. Not as long as you're working for me," Mayer reportedly said. "MGM has made your life." 

Despite explicitly forbidding the wedding, Rooney, 21, and Gardner, 19, got hitched in a small ceremony ... and it was over within the year.