Celebs You Had No Idea Dated Politicians

We're used to celebrities dating each other. After all, who understands the pressures of fame better than someone else who is also famous? Singers get with singers, actors with actors, singers with actors, and so on, and the public never bats an eye. It just makes sense. "Beyond their mutual need for a certain level of discretion, the famous and quasi-famous share an understanding that civilians could never truly understand their lives," podcast hosts Lindsey Weber and Bobby Finger wrote in a column for Slate.

A less-common pairing happens when someone who is famous in entertainment gets together with a partner from that other sphere of public life: politics. Politicians are celebrities too, in a way, carefully managing their public personas in order to maintain their influence over the way people live their lives, and who understands that better than someone like a celeb? A politician's partner acting out can tank their public opinion polls and ruin their careers, so someone who already understands what it's like to be widely known probably has a certain level of enviable discretion. From hookups with diplomats to affairs with presidents, from romancing local city council members to campaigning for senators and governors, here are celebs you had no idea dated politicians.

Cheryl Hines' husband's political activity got her in trouble

Cheryl Hines is a beloved actor and comedian best known for starring in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO's satire about the misadventures of Larry David in Hollywood. She is married to a member of the Kennedy dynasty; in this case, she is the long-time wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of late presidential candidate and former attorney general RFK.

RFK Jr. served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, according to The New York Times, but he now works as a political lobbyist for anti-vaccine causes. This has caused friction in his marriage to Hines, to say the least. When invitations to a 2021 Christmas party at the couple's house asked that all guests be vaccinated against COVID-19, Kennedy blamed his wife. "I guess I'm not always the boss at my own house," Kennedy told Politico.

The following month, Kennedy told a rally audience that COVID-19 restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the pandemic were reminiscent of the horrors of the Holocaust. He apologized on Twitter, writing, "My intention was to use examples of past barbarism to show the perils from new technologies of control," which is not particularly an apology! Hines was forced to defend herself, writing, "My husband's reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in D.C. was reprehensible and insensitive." She added, "The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own."

Andrew Cuomo dated a Food Network star

Political nepotism beneficiary Andrew Cuomo and Food Network star Sandra Lee got together in the mid-00s, though when they were first spotted together, they spent time denying they were an item. By the time Cuomo became governor of New York in the early 2010s, Lee — known for a viral moment where she called a liberal pour of vodka "two shots" — wasn't afraid to do press around the relationship. Though they were committed partners, they never married; Lee told Harper's Bazaar, "I like being independent. I don't think that marriage means you're not independent, but right now I'm very comfortable, and I'm probably the happiest I've ever been."

Lee was open about her double mastectomy due to breast cancer in 2015, and she told People that her politician partner was devoted to her care. "There will never be enough time for me to thank him for the last year of support and love," she said. 

They announced their split in 2019, months before Cuomo would rise to national prominence for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship," they said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. Cuomo was later forced to resign the governorship amid a sexual abuse scandal, whereas Lee announced her engagement to a much-younger boyfriend mere days after Cuomo stepped down, prompting Avenue Magazine to declare that she was "[acing] the revenge relationship."

Sheryl Lee Ralph's husband is a State Senator

"Abbott Elementary" star Sheryl Lee Ralph's second husband is Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes. When they married in 2005, according to People, Ralph was "an hour late to her own wedding." The magazine indicated that Ralph and Hughes met through a friend and that their wedding included Patti LaBelle, Loretta Devine, 425 of the couple's closest friends and family, and a staggering 82-person choir. Ralph was at the time best known for starring in "Moesha," playing the stepmother of singer Brandy's titular character.

When the sitcom hit Netflix in 2020 and found a new audience, Ralph told The Chicago Tribune that she had received numerous messages of support from people discovering the show for the first time. "They want to see themselves. They want to see happy people — they want to see a happy family and a happy Black family, you better put respect on that part," Ralph said. Senator Hughes, on the other hand, works to support low-income workers in the Pennsylvania State Senate and co-sponsored a bill that would make Universal Voter Registration a reality in PA, according to his official bio.

"Like a lot of marriages, you have your ups, your downs, your ins and your outs. But, I love my husband," Ralph told Essence more than 15 years into their marriage. Her husband agreed, adding, "We view our marriage as a blessing. ... God led us to each other right at the absolute perfect time."

Before Nancy Reagan, there was Jane Wyman

Ronald Reagan's political career took him all the way to the White House as America's 40th president, but his first elected office was as President of the Screen Actors Guild. At the time, he was an actor, known for mostly forgettable films like "The Hasty Heart," in addition to a prolific television career on live shows like "General Electric Theater." While serving as SAG President, Reagan was in a relationship with Jane Wyman, a much bigger star than he was; Wyman was an Academy Award-winning actor who led massive hits like "All That Heaven Allows" and "The Glass Menagerie." 

They met on the set of "Brother Rat" and reconnected in the sequel before marrying in 1940, according to Wide Open Country. Though they had two kids, the marriage fell apart by the end of the decade. Wyman's biographer, Edward Z. Epstein, told NPR that when they divorced, "He was crazy about her, and he was devastated when she divorced him."

According to The Washington Post, though, Reagan made only a brief mention of Wyman in his memoirs. "Our marriage produced two wonderful children ... but it didn't work out, and in 1948, we divorced," he wrote. Wyman, on the other hand, refused to speak about her ex-husband until after he passed away. When he died in 2004, Wyman finally spoke out, according to The Desert Sun (via New York Post). "America has lost a great president and a great, kind and gentle man," she said.

Rosario Dawson dated Senator Cory Booker

When Senator Cory Booker ran for president in 2020, he was also beginning a romance with a celeb: actor Rosario Dawson, star of "Rent" and "The Mandalorian." They originally met at a fundraiser in 2018 and started dating in 2019, per The Washington Post. TMZ caught up with the actor early in their relationship, and she confirmed they were dating. "I am just grateful to be with someone that I respect and love and admire so much," she said. They moved in together in 2020, though their union didn't come without its issues, as the senator was busy dealing with Donald Trump's impeachment at the same time he was getting used to having someone around in his home all the time. Booker told Buzzfeed News, "This is the first time in my life I've really lived with somebody — and obviously Rosario and I are enjoying and adjusting to that, right?"

Though Booker didn't win the presidency, and Dawson didn't become first lady, the two continued dating for several years after the election. She accompanied the senator to Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021; on Instagram, she shared a picture of the two embracing on the front steps of the United States Capitol Building. "Grateful for the honor and privilege of witnessing herstory unfold beside my loves," she shared, referencing the historic inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Booker and Dawson split the following year, though according to People, they remained friends after their breakup.

Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden were activists together

Tom Hayden was an activist who rose to prominence when he was put on trial as one of the Chicago 7 group of protesters who demonstrated outside the 1968 Democratic Convention; Hayden was played by Eddie Redmayne in Aaron Sorkin's 2020 film about the incident. He went on to become a politician; according to his New York Times obituary, he was a member of the California State Legislature as an assemblyman from 1982-1992 and a state senator from 1993-2000.

Hayden married "Barbarella" star Jane Fonda in January 1973, and the two embarked on a decades-long commitment to leftist politics together. According to Entertainment Weekly, Fonda's legendary home-workout videos were originally produced as a way to make money for their activism, and the two produced films together with left-wing messages like "9 to 5" and "The China Syndrome."

In his memoir "Reunion," Hayden wrote, "The passion of our common involvement no doubt caused our involvement in passion for each other. Being able to fight the same hazardous battles daily, and to do so together rather than in loneliness, was a powerful basis for this love." Though they had two children together, the marriage ended in 1990. On the occasion of their divorce, a joint spokesman said, "Tom and Jane wish each other well and look to the future with enthusiasm and optimism." According to the Los Angeles Times, they continued to push for joint causes together, including an environmental ballot measure.

Kate Mulgrew's ex-husband ran for governor

Kate Mulgrew, who played Red on "Orange Is the New Black" and Captain Kathryn Janeway on "Star Trek: Voyager," was married to Tim Hagan. Hagan was a county commissioner in Cleveland, Ohio, and he even ran for the governorship, though he didn't win. It seems that the pressures of splitting their marriage between Los Angeles and Ohio required some negotiation; in 1998, Mulgrew told Star Trek Monthly (via Totally Kate), "We agreed that for these next two years, as I fulfill my commitment to 'Voyager,' he will help and support me completely." She noted, "When this is over we can redefine our lives and what we're going to do. And then it will be my turn to support him."

Hagan was just as much a fan of Mulgrew as the Trekkies were. "There was never [anyone] in my life that I was so mesmerized and captivated by," Hagan told Cleveland Magazine (via Totally Kate). However, though the marriage lasted for more than two decades, the couple divorced in 2014. Mulgrew told Cleveland.com that no one was to blame except those same pesky geographical circumstances that led her to leave "Star Trek" way back when. "I was passionate about my career, and he was so important as a commissioner in Cleveland," she said. "He's rooted there, and I'm not sure I ever fully understood the depth of that or honored it."

Marilyn Monroe romanced a President

Okay, this one isn't so much "dating" as it is "a highly-rumored, probably-happened affair." Legendary actor and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe was known for her blond bombshell status, and when she became entangled with playboy politician John F. Kennedy, the affair was reportedly one for the ages.

It's a bit difficult to reconstruct the affair of the "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" star and the president who starred in Robert Drew's documentary "Crisis," about George Wallace and JFK's showdown over desegregation in Alabama, but we'll do our best by working backward. The biography "In These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie" (via Irish Central) claims that Monroe called Jackie Kennedy shortly before her death to confess to having slept with JFK. Jackie reportedly retorted, "Marilyn, you'll marry Jack, that's great. And you'll move into the White House, and you'll assume the responsibilities of the first lady. And I'll move out, and you'll have all the problems."

A friend of Frank Sinatra's told People, "She respected him; she admired him. She loved what he was doing with the country, and then to have a physical relationship with him, she found him attractive and vice versa." That friend also pointed out that you can see everything you need to see in the footage of Monroe infamously singing "Happy Birthday Mr. President," a mere three months before she died. Time quoted JFK as saying, "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way." Sweet and wholesome ... sure ...!

Arianna Huffington's husband later came out

HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post) founder Arianna Huffington has become a socialite and celebrity in her own right, but early in her career, when she was a columnist, she was married to a man with a much higher profile than she had. Vanity Fair described her husband Michael Huffington as "an oil millionaire"; while they were married, he ran for Congress, successfully winning a seat. According to the House of Representatives, Michael was a Republican congressman from California for a single term, serving between 1993 and 1995. He then ran for Senate, but he lost.

They divorced in the late '90s. Michael came out in Esquire (via The Washington Post), telling the magazine, "I know now that my sexuality is part of who I am. I've been through a long process of finding out the truth about me." The article caused a firestorm of controversy; according to CNN, he insisted that despite what the magazine had written, he was not gay but was "probably bisexual" instead.

"I wish Michael well," Arianna told the Los Angeles Times, "and all that matters to me is that he's a good father to our daughters." In the 2003 recall election for the governorship of California, Michael endorsed Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wound up winning; the only problem was, Arianna was also running. "I think Arianna, obviously, is very bright, very attractive, very talented, very seductive. I mean, she got me to marry her," he told Fox News (via The Washington Post). Yikes!

Elizabeth Taylor campaigned for her husband

Iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor was also an iconic bride, having been married eight times to seven different men. One of her final husbands was Senator John Warner, a five-term Republican Senator from Virginia. According to the Associated Press, they originally met at a dinner with none other than Queen Elizabeth II. Warner described that night to People, recalling that Taylor was surprised Warner himself would be driving her to the event. They met up a few more times, Warner explained, "and then all of the sudden we decided we would bond, and the rest is history. That September, we got engaged in Austria."

Soon after they married, Warner ran for senator. Though Taylor was a Democrat and Warner wanted to run as a Republican, the "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" star campaigned for him anyway, drawing massive crowds wherever they went. "There is no question that the huge crowds and attention she drew put Warner over the top," a political commentator told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. When he turned his attention to his senatorial duties, they spent less and less time together. Taylor later wrote in her book "Elizabeth Takes Off," "John wasn't doing anything more or less than what any other senator did. I just couldn't bear the intense loneliness, the lack of sharing with the person with whom I most wanted to share." 

They divorced, but stayed in touch; Warner told People, "We always used to sign off, 'Hey man, till we talk again.'"

Carla Bruni married the French President

Singer and supermodel Carla Bruni topped the charts in France with the release of her debut album in 2002; by the end of the decade, a mere three months after their relationship began, Bruni married French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The president's spokesman released a statement to Reuters announcing, "They got married this morning in the presence of their families and in the utmost privacy." A small wedding was perhaps for the best, considering the president's public courting of the pop star had caused his approval ratings to drop!

While serving as the first lady of France, Bruni continued to release music. Early in her tenure, auction house Christie's sold a nude photo of the former model for many times its expected price, according to Reuters, and she and her husband successfully sued budget airline Ryanair for using their photo in an advertisement.

However, just because her husband was a politician didn't mean Bruni herself had to get involved. When her husband left office and current President Emmanuel Macron took over, Bruni told The Quietus that she was opting out of having political opinions altogether. "Politics is my husband, and since he's not interested in politics anymore, then I'm not interested in politics," she said. "I wish good luck to Mr. and Mrs. Trump, I wish good luck to Mr. and Mrs. Macron, and I don't care, do you understand?"

Rita Hayworth married into royalty

Classic Hollywood beauty Rita Hayworth stunned the industry when she married into royalty, becoming the wife of Prince Aly Khan, who was at the time serving as the Pakistani representative to the United Nations. According to a book called "Throne of Gold," excerpted at length in Vanity Fair, he fell in love when he saw her as the titular character in Charles Vidor's 1946 film "Gilda." The prince pursued the star while they both happened to be in the French Riviera, and it seems that he didn't exactly sweep her off her feet ... at least, at first. "The prince was immediately smitten, but Miss Hayworth definitely was not," reported Hayworth's traveling companion, her secretary Shifra Haran.

Nevertheless, they soon married, and a British Movietone Newsreel brought footage and information of their Cannes wedding to audiences worldwide. "Privacy was impossible," the announcer noted, "but then that's always the lot of a film star ... especially if she marries a prince."

The marriage, it seems, was not the fairytale that many fans may have hoped for. The couple divorced in 1953, agreeing (per The New York Times) that the prince would pay Hayworth $8,000 each year — the equivalent of over $80K in 2021 dollars — and would give their daughter back each time she went to visit him.

Daryl Hannah never got over JFK Jr.

"Splash" star Daryl Hannah once dated John F. Kennedy Jr., son of the assassinated president and therefore a member of the Kennedy political dynasty. When they first got together, a People magazine cover announced, "America's Most Eligible Bachelor Meets His Match." The magazine had previously named him 1988's Sexiest Man Alive, according to the Los Angeles Times, which noted copy inside the issue admonishing readers, "Get your eyes off that man's derriere! ... He has a mind too!" Like his similarly initialed cousin, JFK Jr. served as an assistant district attorney, according to Deseret News.

Because of his family's notoriety, the couple was a sensation with the paparazzi. In addition to numerous shots on dates, they were famously spotted dancing on a rooftop together, Hannah allegedly in her nightgown (via The Washington Post). Though the ADA and the star were together on-and-off for five years — during one break, JFK Jr. dated Sarah Jessica Parker — a friend of Kennedy's told InStyle, "John just found Daryl so self-absorbed." Evidently, after JFK Jr.'s mother died, all Hannah could talk about was "her sick dog." JFK Jr. himself was killed in a plane crash, and a source later told OK! that Hannah's lost love still causes problems in her current marriage to singer Neil Young. "She seems haunted by her memories," the source said, "and wonders what could have been had their romance endured a bit longer."

Zsa Zsa Gabor romanced numerous diplomats

One of the only stars to rival Elizabeth Taylor's legendary romantic history was Hungarian-American actor Zsa Zsa Gabor, star of the 1953 film "Moulin Rouge," who was married nine different times. She wed and left actors, lawyers, and, yes, politicians. Her third husband was even Conrad Hilton, the father of Elizabeth Taylor's first husband Conrad Hilton Jr.! Of her romantic trials and tribulations, Gabor famously quipped, "I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house."

Gabor's first husband was Burhan Asaf Belge, a Turkish politician. They married in 1937 and divorced by 1941, according to Buzzfeed News. Several marriages later, according to the New York Daily News, she had a fling with playboy and diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa. The newspaper said that Rubirosa was nicknamed "the human peppermill" for his ... endowment. Gabor and Rubirosa didn't marry but carried on an affair during his marriage to actor Barbara Hutton.

Finally, in 1986, Gabor married Prince Frédéric von Anhalt, whom she stayed with until her passing in 2016. Their later years were the subject of intense interest from the press; allegations abounded that he was keeping her prisoner and carrying on affairs, according to Vanity Fair, which visited the notoriously-reclusive socialite in her mansion. Gabor described the simple details of their courtship, relating having been introduced by a friend. "I liked how he looked; I liked how he talked. I liked everything about him," she said.