The Truth About Gene Hackman's Second Marriage

Gene Hackman had an eventful life before he decided to place all his bets on acting. Hackman grew up fast, enlisting in the Marine Corps at the age of 16. By the time he turned 18, he was serving in China during the 1948 Communist Revolution, The New York Times Magazine reported in 1989. After Hackman was discharged in 1951, the 21-year-old moved from California to New York to try his luck as an actor. The pursuit was no walk in the park, though, as Hackman had to work a series of menial jobs, including "polishing leather furniture," the one he despised the most, according to the Independent.

During those difficult years, Hackman was living at the Y.M.C.A. It was there, during a 1955 dance, that the would-be A-lister met Faye Maltese, a young brunette who worked as a secretary at a Rockefeller Center bank, according to The New York Times Magazine. The following year, Hackman and Maltese became a married couple. After moving to California and then returning to New York, Hackman began to find acting gigs in Off-Broadway plays, according to Britannica

As Hackman's career grew, so did his family. Soon enough, the actor was putting his work above his wife and three children. "Even though I had a family, I took jobs that would separate us for three or four months at a time," he told the Times. They ultimately divorced in 1986. But Hackman learned his lesson and avoided the same mistakes in his marriage to Betsy Arakawa.

Gene Hackman married a classical pianist in the 1990s

Gene Hackman met 28-year-old classical pianist Betsy Arakawa in the mid-1980s, when he was still legally married to Faye Maltese, but separated, according to Closer Weekly. Hackman and the Hawaiian native first crossed paths when she held a part-time job at a Los Angeles fitness center, The New York Times Magazine noted. Their relationship evolved quickly, with Arakawa moving into Hackman's Santa Fe home before his divorce was finalized. They tied the knot in 1991. By then, Hackman was already the legendary actor he'll always be remembered as, making the circumstances around his second marriage different. 

When Hackman was married to Maltese, he knew letting parts go could hinder his career, and nothing mattered to him more than his professional success. "You spend so many years wanting desperately to be recognized as having the talent and then when you're starting to be offered these parts, it's very tough to turn anything down," he told The New York Times Magazine. He and Arakawa also have no children together, according to Closer Weekly.

Arakawa is a private person who avoids the spotlight, something she and Hackman have in common. Hackman and Arakawa have lived in relative reclusion in New Mexico since the 1980s, when the actor fell in love with the state's dramatic scenery, he told Architectural Digest in 1990. After three decades together, Hackman and Arakawa are still going strong and enjoying the extra time they have together since Hackman retired from acting in 2004

Gene Hackman and Betsy Arakawa live a quiet life

Gene Hackman stopped accepting parts after 2004, marking the unofficial year of his retirement. In 2008, "The Royal Tenenbaums" star told Reuters he hadn't announced his retirement because he wanted to keep the doors open in case a project impossible to say no to fell in his lap. That hasn't happened, and so Hackman has spent his days enjoying the peace and quiet of New Mexico next to his wife, Betsy Arakawa. "His health is good, he still bicycles, does yard work and he's a great handyman," an insider told Closer Weekly in February 2020. "After all the drama of Gene's career, he loves the peaceful life he shares with the lovely Betsy."

Hackman wouldn't have it any other way. Despite their 26-year age gap, Hackman and Arakawa favor the same lifestyle. Both much prefer to avoid crowds and loud places. In addition to Arakawa, Hackman makes an effort to see only his three grown children, Christopher, Leslie, and Elizabeth, and their families, according to a 1994 Chicago Tribune report. "I'm a private person," he told the newspaper.

Hackman has turned his attention to writing, an activity that allows him to express his creativity. "I like the loneliness of it, actually. It's similar in some ways to acting, but it's more private," he told Reuters. With five published books, Hackman is showing he still has a lot to offer — as long as he can do it from the comfort of home.