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From Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson.
Rumors about celebrities and their relationships come and go, whether they be about dating, cheating, or messy breakups. But, there are some scandals that have proven to be more memorable than others. This may be because of who was involved, the stars taking it upon themselves to actually confirm the details, or just how shocking the stories were. The instances of celebrity couple infidelity listed here made headlines, yes, but in some cases, politicians even got involved. Or whole albums about the experience were recorded. Or the official newspaper of Vatican City condemned the affair in print. (Yes, that actually happened.) Read on to find out more about the eight biggest celeb cheating scandals ever.
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The first scandal on our list concerns arguably the most infamous Hollywood couple of all time. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton got together when they began working on the 1963 movie Cleopatra. At the time, they were both married to other people—Taylor to her fourth husband, singer and actor Eddie Fisher, and Burton to his first wife, actor Sybil Williams.
The affair caused problems on the set, with the actors staying in their trailers together when they were supposed to be filming, and co-workers overhearing their fights, according to Entertainment Weekly. Paparazzi snuck on to the Rome set by pretending to be extras. The Vatican’s newspaper spoke out against the affair calling it “erotic vagrancy.” According to EW, a Georgia congressperson requested that the actors not be let into the United States due to “undesirability.”
This affair wasn’t just a brief fling, either. Taylor and Burton were married from 1964 to 1974, and then again from 1975 to 1976.
As a bonus scandal: Taylor’s relationship with Fisher had also started as an affair. He was married to Debbie Reynolds when he began an affair with Taylor, who had recently lost her third husband, Mike Todd, in a plane crash. All four had been close friends, and Reynolds and Fisher were even the matron of honor and best man at Taylor and Todd’s wedding.
Taylor and Burton weren’t the only famous lovers to have a government official speak out against them. Casablanca star Ingrid Bergman was married to her first husband, Petter Lindström, when she began an affair with the married director of her 1950 film Stromboli, Roberto Rossellini. During the affair, Bergman became pregnant, which caused further backlash, especially in the U.S., once the news got out.
Not only did Bergman receive hateful mail from former fans, but a U.S. senator proposed a bill inspired by her. According to The Daily Beast, Edwin C. Johnson brought forth a bill that would require movies to be licensed to be shown based on the morality of their stars and filmmakers. Johnson also said that Bergman “had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage” and said she was “a powerful influence for evil.”
Bergman and Rossellini were married from 1950 until 1957 and welcomed three children together.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver had been married 25 years when they announced they were splitting up in 2011. Soon after, the real reason for their split was revealed: Schwarzenegger had had an affair with Mildred Baena, a woman who worked in their home, and she’d given birth to their son, Joseph Baena, 14 years earlier in 1997. Schwarzenegger revealed the news to Shriver after his time as governor of California came to a close.
“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” Schwarzenegger told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”
Joseph now has a relationship with Schwarzenegger and, like his father, he is a bodybuilder. He was also recently featured on Dancing with the Stars.
In 1995, Hugh Grant made headlines when he was arrested for hiring a sex worker, Divine Brown (real name: Estella Marie Thompson), in Los Angeles. Both were taken into custody when they were caught participating in sexual activity in his car. At the time, Grant was in a longterm relationship with Elizabeth Hurley.
According to The Guardian, Grant was sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine and ordered to takes an AIDS education course. The Love Actually star released a statement expressing his regret about the incident. Later, he appeared on The Tonight Show and said, “I’ve done an abominable thing, and [Hurley’s] been amazing about it, and contrary to what I read in the paper today, she’s been very supportive, and we’re going to try to work it out.”
Grant and Hurley remained in a relationship until 2000 and are good friends to this day.
Jude Law and Sienna Miller began dating when they met on the set of Alfie in 2003 and got engaged on Christmas Day in 2004. But, their time as a Hollywood “it” couple was short-lived. In 2005, Daisy Wright, the nanny of Law’s children with his ex-wife, Sadie Frost, told the Sunday Mirror that she’d been having an affair with the actor and shared diary entires detailing their time together.
Law admitted to the affair and issued a public apology to Miller via the British Press Association. “Following the reports in today’s papers, I just want to say I am deeply ashamed and upset that I’ve hurt Sienna and the people most close to us,” Law said, as reported by People. “I want to publicly apologize to Sienna and our respective families for the pain that I have caused. There is no defense for my actions which I sincerely regret and I ask that you respect our privacy at this very difficult time.”
Law and Miller tried to work on their relationship but broke up in 2006. They made another go of it from 2009 to 2011, when they split for good.
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Jay-Z cheating on Beyoncé influenced an album for both of them. One of the themes of her 2016 visual album Lemonade is her husband’s unfaithfulness, while he released 4:44, which also touches on his cheating, the following year.
“[I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing,” Jay-Z told T Magazine in 2017. “You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.”
The couple are still together. “We did the hard work of going to therapy,” Jay-Z said in a 2018 interview with David Letterman (via The Washington Post). “We love each other, so we really put in the work for years … I like to believe we’re in a better place today. I’m proud of the father and the husband that I am today.”
In 2012, photos of Kristen Stewart kissing Rupert Sanders, the director of her movie Snow White and the Huntsman, were released and caused an immediate stir. She was quite famously in a relationship with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, while Sanders was married to his wife since 2002, model Liberty Ross. Stewart and Sanders both quickly released statements.
“I am utterly distraught about the pain I have caused my family,” Sanders told Us Weekly. “My beautiful wife and heavenly children are all I have in this world. I love them with all my heart. I am praying we can get through this together.”
Stewart said, “I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.”
Ross filed for divorce from Sanders six months later. Stewart and Pattinson split up in May 2013 but remain on good terms.
In the spring of 2018, Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson were getting ready to welcome their first child together when photos and videos were released of the basketball player kissing other women. A couple of days after the reports came out, Kardashian welcomed their daughter, True Thompson.
More cheating allegations surfaced from there, including in January 2019, when it was revealed that Thompson had kissed Kardashian’s younger sister Kylie Jenner’s close friend, Jordyn Woods. In the months following, Thompson and Kardashian continued to co-parent their daughter together but did not reconcile as partners until the summer of 2020, according to People.
The status of the relationship was unclear to the public for the next couple of years, but in January 2022, Thompson confirmed that he fathered a son with another woman, Maralee Nichols. In July, Kardashian revealed that she and Thompson were expecting a child via surrogate, with the timeline suggesting that they’d agreed to have another child before Kardashian knew that Thompson was having a baby with Nichols. Of course, with Kardashian being a reality star, this was all featured on her family’s show, The Kardashians.
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