Born on October 15, 1937, Linda Lavin is best known as an American Actress and Singer. Recently, she celebrated her 85th birthday, and looking back at her over 80 years on earth; the Hollywood legend has a lot to be grateful for, especially in her career.
Lavin began her journey to stardom in the 1960s after graduating from the College of William and Mary with a degree in theatre. At the beginning of her career, the actress featured in musical productions like “Oh, Kay!” “A Family Affair,” “On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever.”
Soon after beginning roles in musicals, Lavin moved to drama, and things only improved. In the 1970s, the actress bagged the role of Detective Janice Wentworth in the sitcom “Barney Miller.” About a year later, Lavin appeared as Alice Hyatt in “Alice.”
Starring in the sitcom for nearly a decade, the actress’s role as Alice Hyatt earned her immense recognition, a Primetime Emmy Award Nomination, and two Golden Globe Awards.
Soon after her long run in “Alice” ended, Lavin found an opportunity to return to the stage, portraying an increasing number of characters and winning acclaim for them. She starred in “Broadway Bound” for which she won a Tony Award for Best Actress and a Drama Desk Award in 1987.
Then, in 1998 and 2000, she bagged two Tony Award nominations for her roles as Mrs. Van Daan in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and Marjorie in “Tales of the Allergist Wife.”
In the following years, Lavin would become one of the most notable actresses in Hollywood. She appeared in a ton of other movies, such as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Madame Secretary,” “Santa Clarita Diet,” “Room 104,” etc.
From comedy to drama and from stage to screen, the entertainment icon continues to make the most of her talents and win applause and awards for them.
Although Lavin’s life and accomplishments inspire many, the actress had to go through many problems, including in her personal life, to reach success and happiness. Here are some of the details of Lavin’s experiences.
Lavin has been enjoying marital bliss with her husband, Steve Bakunas, for years, but her journey to finding happiness and peace was difficult as she went through two failed marriages. The movie star’s first marriage was to Actor Ron Leibman in 1969 when she was 32.
The lovebirds dated for five years before Bakunas popped the big question in 2005. According to the actress, he flew into Chicago, where she was doing a play, and proposed.
Sadly, after 12 years, the pair parted ways, and Leibman quickly remarried in 1982. That same year on August 22, Lavin walked down the aisle with Actor Kip Niven, whom she met while filming “Alice.”
Unfortunately, the marriage was a disaster. After seven years, during which the award-winning actress endured unbearable emotional abuse at the hands of her second husband, Lavin filed for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and adultery.
According to the actress, Niven was involved in multiple affairs and spent her money frivolously. Lavin also claimed that the actor always spoke badly of her face and body, looked down on her career, treated her terribly in public, and thought about other women whenever they were intimate. Ultimately, the actress concluded:
“He treated me with disgust and contempt.”
Following the actress’s claims in the documents, Niven demanded $6 million in the divorce settlement. But fortunately for Lavin, the judge, Phyllis Gangel-Jacob, denied Nevin’s demands.
The judge had discovered that almost all the money spent in the family came from Lavin’s pockets, with little or nothing coming from Nevin. So, in 1992, when the pair finalized their divorce, judge Gangel-Jacob awarded Niven only $675,000.
According to the judge, the actor had been “living off her and spending her money on adulterous affairs.” Lavin was thrilled by the judge’s decision, describing it as “a just and magnificent decision.”
After two failed marriages and a messy divorce, Lavin never imagined that she would exchange wedding vows again. But everything changed when she came face to face with her soulmate, Bakunas.
The pair first encountered each other at the opening of a theatre, and for the actress, it was love at first sight. Recalling the moment they met, Lavin told Broadway Buzz:
“He was seated right in front of me. He turned around, and the moment I saw his gorgeous face, I thought, ‘I’m so glad I had my hair done today.’”
Soon after their first meeting, Lavin and Bakunas became romantically involved, despite the latter being 20 years younger. The lovebirds dated for five years before Bakunas popped the big question in 2005. According to the actress, he flew into Chicago, where she was doing a play, and proposed.
Lavin said she was stunned and emotional but immediately knew what she would wear for the big day. On February 14, 2005, the pair tied the knot; since then, it has been an amazing journey.
Lavin and Bakunas share no kids, and the former has never had a child, but she is a doting stepmother to her husband’s children from his first marriage. Speaking about her stepmother role, the actress once explained:
“I’m an accepting parent. I’m comfortable with myself, where I don’t need anybody to be different from who they are. I believe as parents, we can give our children their own path. We can lead by example, but not by lecturing or punishing the spirit.”
Meanwhile, Lavin and Bakunas have been married for 17 years, and the former could not be more grateful for their love. In 2013, the actress told HuffPost that she and her husband are on their roads but parallel paths.
According to Lavin, they give each other space to enjoy their individuality, and at the same time, they are each other’s support systems. Ultimately, Lavin says she feels happiness and thankfulness for the love she shares with her husband and receives from him.