For those in the know, secret romances are nothing new in showbiz circles – just ask Taylor Swift, whose high-profile list of former relationships have mostly been shielded from public scrutiny, despite her enormous fame.
But secret breakups are a rarer occurrence, or at least they were until Meryl Streep joined a growing list of stealth splitters by confirming her separation from husband Don Gummer – six years after they ended their marriage.
The Oscar-winning actress surprised fans by revealing she and Gummer – a celebrated sculptor – were living separate lives after amicably ending their 45-year marriage in 2017.
Curiously, the former couple preserved the enigma of togetherness with a joint red carpet appearance at the 90th annual Academy Awards in 2018 – a year after their separation.
It’s enough to confound even the less partisan of observers – but believe it or not they’re not alone. in pulling a veil of secrecy over their separations.
Read on for the full list of subterfuge splits.
All over: Meryl Streep and Don Gummer have joined a growing list of stealth splitters by recently confirming the end of their 45-year marriage – six-years after separating
Old times: The former couple exchanged vows in 1978 and have four children (pictured outside London’s Claridges in 1980)
Unusual: Curiously, the former couple preserved the enigma of togetherness with a joint red carpet appearance at the 90th annual Academy Awards in 2018 – a year after their separation
1. WILL SMITH AND JADA PINKETT SMITH
Streep and Gummer’s separation may well have surprised fans, but it was foreshadowed by explosive revelations made by Jada Pinkett Smith in her newly released memoir.
Despite making numerous public appearances with husband Will – including an Oscars ceremony that ended with the actor slapping host Chris Rock for a perceived dig at his wife – she admitted they have been separated since 2016.
The Hollywood power couple’s marriage came under intense spotlight at the 94th annual Academy Awards, when Smith struck comedian Rock on stage for making a joke about Jada’s alopecia.
But the pair had already been living “totally separate lives” for years before the notorious incident, she told NBC News while promoting memoir Worthy in October.
‘By the time we got to 2016 we were just exhausted with trying,’ she said.
Rumors of affairs and an open marriage were repeatedly denied by the couple for many years.
But in 2020, Jada openly discussed an extramarital “entanglement” she had with singer August Alsina some years earlier, during a period of separation from her husband.
Unexpected: Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith secretly ended their marriage in 2016 (pictured at the Golden Globes that year)
Legendary: The pair have made numerous joint appearances since then, including an Oscars ceremony that ended with Will Smith slapping host Chris Rock for a perceived dig at his wife
Ain’t nothing like the real thing: But Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith were already separated when they attended the premiere of King Richard at the Chinese Theatre in 2021
Affectionate: The couple pictured in 2019 at the premiere of Gemini Man – by which time they were already separated
Asked why the couple had chosen to conceal their separation, Pinkett Smith said they were “just not… ready yet” and “still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership.”
‘We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us,’ she told People magazine, in a separate interview.
Jada also discussed the notorious Oscars ceremony of March 2022, when Rock made a poorly judged crack about her closely cropped head.
Smith mounted the stage and slapped the comedian hard across the face, before returning to his seat and yelling obscenities at the presenter.
She recalls that she initially thought the slap was a “skit,” and even once she realized it wasn’t, remained “unclear on the reason why Will is so upset.”
‘We had been living separate lives and were there as family, not as husband and wife,’ she writes in her memoir.
The former couple first met on the set of his sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1994.
Smith was married at the time to his first wife, whom he later divorced. The couple have two children together, Jaden and Willow.
2. HUGH JACKMAN AND DEBORRA-LEE FURNESS
Divorces are ten a penny in Hollywood, but Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness made us believe in the power of love by bucking the trend for short-lived celebrity marriages.
But our leap of faith would prove to be misplaced, with the couple confirming the end of their 27-year marriage in September.
In a joint statement published by PEOPLE magazine, they wrote: ‘We have been blessed to share almost 3 decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage.
‘Our journey now is shifting and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth.’
Rock solid? Divorces are ten a penny in Hollywood, but Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness made us believe in love by bucking the trend for short-lived celebrity marriages
Another one bites the dust: But our leap of faith would prove to be misplaced, with the couple confirming the end of their 27-year marriage in September
Gushing post: Months before confirming their separation Jackman paid tribute to his wife on their 27th wedding anniversary in April
Cougar vibes: Jackman and Furness met while co-starring in 10-episode ABC series Correlli in 1995 (pictured)
2012 family portrait: In 2000, The Music Man thespian and Furness adopted son Oscar Maximilian, 23. In 2005, they adopted their now 18-year-old daughter Ava Eliot
They said the statement would be their only public reference to the breakup and insisted family is their highest priority, with the former couple vowing to ‘undertake this next chapter with gratitude, love, and kindness.’
In April, Jackman celebrated their 27th anniversary with a tribute on Instagram.
‘love you so much. Together we have created a beautiful family. And life,” he wrote. ‘Your laughter, your spirit, generosity, humor, cheekiness, courage and loyalty is an incredible gift to me.’
Jackman and Furness met in 1995 on the set of an Australian television show where both were actors.
They married in 1996 and had two children: Oscar, now 23, and Ava, now 18. Jackman also ascended to major stardom in Hollywood and on Broadway.
Moving fast: It was only weeks after they began dating that Hugh asked Deborra-Lee to marry him, and the couple wed in 1996
Inseparable: At 67, Furness is 13 years older Hugh, but they’ve never spent more than two weeks apart since their 1996 wedding (pictured in 1997)
3. KEVIN COSTNER AND CHRISTINE BAUMGARTNER
Possible the least stealthy of stealth splits, Kevin Costner’s acrimonious divorce from handbag designer Christine Baumgartner has been played out in a series of high profile court battles since she filed for divorce in May.
‘It is with great sadness that circumstances beyond his control have transpired which have resulted in Mr. Costner having to participate in a dissolution of marriage,’ Costner’s publicist Arnold Robinson said in a statement at the time.
So began an explosive court battle as Costner pushed to extract his estranged wife from their former marital home – a huge $145 million house in Carpinteria, California, owned solely by the actor and bought in 1988, long before their 2004 wedding.
In court papers seen by DailyMail.com in June the actor’s lawyers claimed they made ‘multiple offers’ to get her out – but failed to reach agreement with Christine, leaving him effectively homeless.
Costner himself remarked: ‘This is surprising and disheartening to me. I was married once before and, upon separation, found myself without home base and unable to live in my own home.
‘I never wanted this to happen again.’
Nightmare: Possible the least stealthy of stealth splits, Kevin Costner’s divorce from Christine Baumgartner has been played out in a series of court battles since she filed for divorce in May
War of the roses: So began an explosive court battle as Costner pushed to extract his estranged wife from their marital home – a huge $145 million house in California (pictured)
Costner is worth $250 million and under the terms of the prenup, signed in 2004, she was to leave his properties if they split and relocate, using a $1.2 million fund to find a new house.
The actor also alleged that following their separation she ‘charged $95,000’ to his credit card ‘without prior notice to me.’ That money was spent on lawyers and on a forensic accountant.
Costner and Baumgartner, a model and handbag designer, began dating in 1998 before marrying at his sprawling Colorado ranch in 2004.
They are parents to sons Cayden, 15, Hayes, 14, and 12-year old daughter Grace.
It was the second marriage for Costner, 68, the Oscar and Emmy winning star of TV’s Yellowstone and films including Dances With Wolves, The Bodyguard, JFK and Bull Durham.
Baumgartner filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences on May 1.
She gave the date of separation as April 11. In his response Costner marked the date of separation as ‘TBD’ or ‘to be determined.’
Terms: Costner is worth $250 million and under the terms of the prenup, signed in 2004, she was to leave his properties if they split, using a $1.2 million fund to find a new house
Family: The former couple are parents to sons Cayden, 15, Hayes, 14, and 12-year old daughter Grace (pictured)
On June 8, her legal team filed a restraining order against Costner, forbidding him from taking the children out of the state and transferring or selling any property.
The following day Costner’s side filed a request for an order to kick Baumgartner out of the house, a filing known as a ‘preliminary injunction prohibiting petitioner from occupancy.’
The former couple eventually settled their legal battle with reports suggesting their pre-nuptial agreement was enforced and Baumgartner was unable to challenge the terms without facing the possibility of paying a penalty in excess of $1 million and covering the actor’s attorney’s fees.
‘Kevin and Christine Costner have come to an amicable and mutually agreed upon resolution of all issues pertaining to their divorce proceedings,’ they said in a joint statement released by the actor’s publicist, Arnold Robinson.
The agreement ended what had become a contentious court fight, and enabled them to avoid a court case that had been scheduled for December in a Santa Barbara County, California court.
A source told DailyMail.com: ‘Christine didn’t really have a choice but to settle because Kevin had all the power. Had she continued fighting, she would risk losing everything.’
The two had already fought in court over child support payments.
After a two-day hearing in which both Costner and Baumgartner testified, a judge on September 8 ordered Costner to pay about 63,000 dollars (£50,800) a month for their three children, PEOPLE reported. Baumgartner had sought about 175,000 dollars (£141,000) a month.
A parting of ways: If supermodel Jerry Hall’s romance with ageing publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch came as something of a surprise, so too did their marriage and subsequent divorce
I do: The unlikely couple married in a low-key ceremony in central London’s Spencer House in March 2016. It was Murdoch’s fourth marriage and Hall’s first (pictured on their wedding day)
4. RUPERT MURDOCH AND JERRY HALL
If supermodel Jerry Hall’s romance with ageing media mogul Rupert Murdoch came as something of a surprise, so too did their marriage and subsequent divorce.
The unlikely couple married in a low-key ceremony in central London’s Spencer House in March 2016. It was Murdoch’s fourth marriage and Hall’s first.
Six-years later the Texan model filed for divorce in Los Angeles, citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking unspecified spousal support and attorneys’ fees.
Hall said in the petition filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court that she was “unaware of the full nature and extent of all (Murdoch’s) assets and debts, and will amend this petition when the information has been ascertained.”
The divorce was ultimately finalised in August 2022, with a statement released by Murdoch’s attorney, Robert Cohen, and Judy Poller, a lawyer representing Hall, confirming the couple were officially divorced but “remain good friends.”
Hall was previously the longtime partner of Rolling Stones singer Sir Mick Jagger, with whom she has four children.
Cloudy: Even now the exact date of Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde’s split remains shrouded in uncertainty, but confirmation came in November 2020
How it was: Sudeikis and Wilde began dating in November of 2011, with an engagement following in January of 2013 (pictured together in 2012)
5. JASON SUDEIKIS AND OLIVIA WILDE
Even now the exact date of Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde’s split remains shrouded in uncertainty, but confirmation came in November 2020.
One thing we do know – the former couple ended their engagement serval months before the news was confirmed in a statement issued to PEOPLE magazine.
A source told the publication at the time: ‘The split happened at the beginning of the year.’
Sudeikis and Wilde – parents to son Otis and daughter Daisy – began dating in November of 2011, with an engagement following in January of 2013.
They originally met at the after party for the season 36 finale of Saturday Night Live and struck up a romance a few months later.
Recounted the story on The Late Show in 2017, Sudeikis said: ‘I actually came off looking a little cooler than I really am because I had heard through the grapevine, through mutual friends who weren’t exactly her best girlfriends, who would report back, “Oh you know, I think she’s dating someone.”
‘So I didn’t make any moves. I was just very, very busy with other things. And next thing you know, I stopped being busy, she stopped dating someone, and then it was off to the races. We sort of reintroduced ourselves. The universe had more in store for us in the fall.’
Proud parents: The former couple are parents to son Otis and daughter Daisy (pictured)
Questions: While it emerged it November 2020 that they had ended their seven year relationship, sources claim her relationship with Harry Styles started as early as October 2020
While it emerged it November 2020 that they had ended their seven year relationship, Page Six claimed her subsequent relationship with Harry Styles started as early as October 2020.
Insiders claimed her involvement with the British star – which began on the set of Don’t Worry Darling – was the primary reason for the break-up.
‘Olivia and Jason were having issues, like any other couple, but Jason loves Olivia — he completely adores her, and that’s what makes this so sad,’ a source told the publication. ‘He’s always been committed to making their family work.’
Despite the controversy Sudeikis and Wilde remain on good terms and are regularly seen together at sporting events with their children.
6. ARIANA GRANDE AND DALTON GOMEZ
Ariana Grande’s legion of die-hard fans were left stunned in July when the pop star revealed her short-lived marriage to Dalton Gomez ended six months earlier.
One hoped the unlucky-in-love star had finally found happiness after exchanging vows with Gomez – a luxury realtor – in a private ceremony at her Montecito, California home on May 15, 2021 – sadly, it was no to be.
‘Ariana and Dalton have nothing but respect for one another. They’re still friends and want to remain that way moving forward. There was no cheating, no resentment between them, the marriage just simply didn’t work out. These things happen, a source close to the couple told DailyMail.com at the time.
A separate source told Us Weekly: ‘Ariana and Dalton have been having some issues for months now,’
Worse was to follow, with sources claiming the singer had embarked on a workplace romance with married actor Ethan Slater, her co-star in a forthcoming big screen rendering of hit musical Wicked.
Kiss of death: Ariana Grande’s legion of die-hard fans were left stunned in July when the pop star revealed her short-lived marriage to Dalton Gomez ended six months earlier
Confirmation: ‘Ariana and Dalton have nothing but respect for one another. They’re still friends and want to remain that way moving forward,’ a source told Dailymail.com at the time
Slater officially filed for divorce from his ‘devastated’ wife of five years Lilly Jay – with whom he shares an infant son – in July.
A source close to Jay told TMZ that she was ‘completely blindsided’ by the news and feels as though Slater ‘abandoned’ their family.
She was also said to be upset by the fact their son won’t have both parents around him constantly and feels like Slater has ‘completely turned his back on his family.’
In another blow, the ‘heartbroken’ new mum felt ‘betrayed’ because Grande had previously spent time with herself and her husband while they were still married.
Grande and Gomez officially finalized their own divorce in October – just three weeks after the singer filed on September 18.
According to the settlement, the real estate agent received a check from the Grammy winner – with the payment being worth a total of $1,250,000, tax-free.