Top 10 May-December Relationships


Bogey and Bacall. JFK and Jackie. McQueen and MacGraw. These famous couples had wide age gaps. Add to that list Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Filipino actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, whose romantic affair in the 1930s broke all taboos. In this article, I rounded up 10 of the most captivating May-December relationships over the years.

#1 Douglas MacArthur and Isabel Cooper

MacArthur, the five-star general of the “I shall return” fame, was 50 years old and divorced when he fell head over heels for Cooper, an aspiring Filipino actress. Nobody knows Cooper’s real age, judging by the contradicting information in books that mention her in relation to MacArthur. She might have been only 16 when she first met MacArthur.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Courtesy of National Archives)

Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Courtesy of National Archives)

In my historical novel, My MacArthur, released today, they have a 30-year age gap. Cooper’s age is a bone of contention in her tumultuous relationship with MacArthur, but there are many other obstacles to their relationship. He’s white and she’s biracial. He’s one of America’s most powerful men and she’s a struggling actress. Their relationship takes place during the Great Depression, a tough time all around.

#2 Bogey and Bacall. Age difference: 25 years.

Humphrey “Bogey” Bogart was 44 and Lauren Bacall was 19 when they first met on the set of “To Have and to Have Not.” They will always remain one of Hollywood’s golden couples.

#3 JFK and Jackie Kennedy. Age difference: 12 years.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy were a quintessential power couple.

#4 Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw. Age difference: nine years

Hollywood superstar Steve McQueen and model Ali McGraw met on the set of “The Getaway.” Their turbulent marriage lasted five years.

#5 Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Age difference: 10 years

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan’s 50-year marriage went from Hollywood to the White House. Their devotion to each other was one for the ages.

#6 Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Age difference: nine years

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln witnessed the assassination of her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, at the Ford’s Theatre. She grew deeply depressed and suffered from mental illness after his death.

#7 Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill. Age difference: 25 years

Oona O’Neill, daughter of the famous playwright Eugene O’Neill, was 18 years old when she married the legendary actor Charlie Chaplin, 54. Despite the naysayers, their marriage lasted until Chaplin’s death.

#8 Grover and Frances Cleveland. Age difference: 27 years

The wedding of President Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom in 1886 carries the record as the only presidential wedding held at the White House.

#9 Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall. Age difference: 62 years

Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith’s marriage to oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall was controversial from the start. He died shortly after their wedding and the legal battle for his wealth ensued.

#10 Donald and Melania Trump. Age difference: 24 years

President Donald Trump, twice divorced, married model Melania Knavs in 2005. They are at the bottom of this list because their story as a couple is still unfolding. Their relationship is a source of constant speculation.

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MacArthur’s Promise