“Love Story” star Ali MacGraw traded in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for the tranquil serenity of a quaint small town. Despite her past failed marriages, she has no regrets about her decision to leave the spotlight and start anew in this peaceful haven.
Ali MacGraw will always be remembered as a great actress because she was beautiful, intelligent, and had great style. However, it’s not just her on-screen performances that have left a lasting impression—her romantic relationships have also made waves in the entertainment industry.
Throughout her illustrious career, the talented performer married three times. Her first union was with Robin Hoen, followed by marriage to the esteemed producer Robert Evans. Finally, she said “I do” to her “The Getaway” co-star Steve McQueen.
MacGraw met Hoen in college. She went to Wellesley College and worked as an assistant for a fashion magazine led by Diana Vreeland, a well-known fashion editor. Hoen studied at Harvard University.
The couple married in 1961 but divorced the following year. After working in the fashion industry for a while, MacGraw got her big break in the 1970 movie “Love Story,” which made her a Hollywood star.
MacGraw became an influential actress and a trailblazer in fashion, with Calvin Klein noting a “rich-hippie” trend. Her unique style put her on par with legendary fashion icons like actress Katharine Hepburn and Jackie Onassis, a socialite and former U.S. first lady.
A few years later, MacGraw met Evans, a renowned producer and former production head of Paramount Pictures. HE once dabbled in acting but gained recognition as a producer.
Evans’ producing credits included the critically-acclaimed films “The Godfather” and “Chinatown.” He and MacGraw married in 1969 and welcomed a son named Josh in 1971.
Robert Evans and Ali MacGraw attend the film premiere of “Ryan’s Daughter” at Museum of Modern Art November 9, 1970, in New York City, New York. | Source: Getty Images
Evans provided MacGraw with a range of roles and was careful not to cast her in projects that would limit her career. She starred in the 1972 film “The Getaway,” alongside McQueen, who earned the moniker “The King of Cool.”
McQueen was one of the most famous in1960s and received a nomination for an Academy Award in 1966 for his performance in the film “The Sand Pebbles.”
McQueen and MacGraw began a romantic relationship while filming, and that same year, MacGraw ended her three-year marriage to Evans and married McQueen. Evans remarried seven times before passing away in 2019.
When MacGraw married McQueen, he forced her to give up her acting career because McQueen wanted to live a “normal life” after having had a difficult childhood. MacGraw recalled:
“At the time, he was the biggest movie star in the world, and he didn’t want me to work, so I essentially quit making movies and took care of my child [Josh].”
According to biographer Marc Eliot, McQueen’s infidelity and drug abuse, which contributed to his reputation as the industry’s “bad boy,” greatly affected his marriage with MacGraw.
Eliot claimed that McQueen was known for being distant and strict, often physically abusing MacGraw and demanding that she serve him dinner at precisely 6 in the evening. He would eat alone in front of the television.
In the end, the actress and McQueen ultimately called quits in 1977. MacGraw, despite their stormy marriage, still had nice things to say about McQueen.
In a 2018 interview with People, MacGraw recalled that her relationship with McQueen was incredibly intense and powerful, describing it as “chemical.”
She went on to say that McQueen had a captivating presence that drew the attention of everyone in the room and that his magnetic aura did not spare her.
MacGraw recalled that her third husband’s appeal was not only due to his handsome looks but also because he exuded a hint of danger and bad boy attitude.
Looking back, MacGraw reflected that she wished she and her partner had grown old without substance abuse and said they had “wonderful days and dreadful days.”
She clarified that she does not view herself as a victim and that their relationship had ups and downs. This pattern of a troubled marriage was the same as the ones she had with Hoen and Evans.
In a “Super Soul Sunday” interview with renowned host Oprah Winfrey, MacGraw admitted that her repeated failed marriages were due to her own personal issues. She revealed:
“The arrogance of it just blows my mind. My arrogance.”
MacGraw said her remarks should not be misconstrued as cruel. Instead, she believed that her partners should be able to understand her needs without her having to express them verbally. She cited examples of what went wrong with her three marriages:
“It was, ‘Why can’t you read my mind about what I’d like and what I wouldn’t like?… How about saying, ‘This doesn’t feel right,’ or ‘That does,’ or ‘I really would like to ask you if you could do this for me.’”
Winfrey told MacGraw that the inability to communicate one’s desires and expectations clearly and expecting one’s partner to know them intuitively could harm a relationship.
MacGraw seemed to realize her mistakes. Because she was not open to what she wanted, she also expressed regret for not asking for more financial support from her ex-husbands.
She stated that it made sense to focus on establishing a stable home for oneself when choosing to retire at the peak of one’s career. However, she did not give much thought to this idea in the past.
According to MacGraw, she never accepted divorce settlement money because she believed it was the right thing to do. This choice, however, left her nearly penniless. She admitted:
“I had a romantic, ‘Aren’t I a good girl?’ take on divorce, but the truth is that was stupid.”
MacGraw remembered that McQueen forced her to sign a prenuptial agreement that said if they got a divorce, she would lose money. As a result, after they divorced, she was ultimately bankrupt.
After three failed marriages that ended for the same reason, she traded dazzling Hollywood and a promising career for the happiness of motherhood and a quiet life away from Los Angeles.
Overcoming Difficulties and Finding Peace in Santa Fe
MacGraw left Hollywood because she had financial difficulties from her past marriages. She decided to start over by moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, leading a low-key, uncomplicated life there.
After her Malibu home in California was destroyed by fire in 1993, she relocated to Santa Fe in 1994. She has lived in a charming little cottage, where she has enjoyed reading and collecting rocks.
MacGraw found that spending time alone was fulfilling, and she did not see herself as the typical woman who would submit to her partner’s every desire.
She recalled when McQueen had insisted that she give up her career and lead a traditional, domestic life at home. However, this decision by her ex-husband left her feeling extremely disappointed.
Expressing her views, MacGraw said it would be unacceptable for a wife to leave away and a husband to continue with his life, such as kissing someone else for three months and then returning home, expecting everything to be the same. She said:
“Who wants to dwell on those things? I don’t. I love my life and to sit around thinking about that stuff is such a bore. And I’m very content with that.”
After a rough five-year marriage that ended in divorce, McQueen remarried, but he died in 1980. He was 50 years old. His death left MacGraw feeling lost and unable to find peace and comfort.
In her autobiography, “Moving Pictures,” she revealed that she turned to unhealthy habits like drinking and getting into bad relationships. MacGraw sought help and entered a rehabilitation center to overcome these difficulties.
In 1968, she checked into the Betty Ford Center, which was a defining moment in her life. She said the program helped her discover a higher power and the peace and order she had been seeking for a long time.
MacGraw has exuded optimism, refusing to dwell on past mistakes. She explained that before, she felt like her true self was hidden behind a facade of charm, politeness, and conformity, but now she has worked to shed that persona and is reaping the benefits.
Living a Simple and Fulfilling Life Post-fame
MacGraw is now 83 years old. The actress has been single for 44 years and is a proud mother and grandmother. She has retired from acting and has no plans to return to the spotlight.
The veteran star also admitted that she has not been earning a consistent income recently but thinks she has become “much more famous” than being wealthy.
She was able to adapt to a simpler lifestyle without making any major sacrifices, a decision that many of her friends who are in similar situations have trouble making.
She also commented on the overwhelming nature of fame, saying that while it may seem glamorous, it can be “exhausting” because of the constant attention and chaos within show business. She added:
“There’s so much craziness that comes along with being a movie star that you can get so confused. Unless you’ve spent your whole life waiting to be the center of attention, it’s pretty terrifying.”
Although she may not have much money to give, MacGraw loves to use her voice when asked to support causes she cares about, such as animal welfare and the environment.
She previously helped a conservation group in Vietnam called Animal Asia, whose causes centered around bear preservation in the said country. She even flew to the country to assist them in keeping the sanctuary open rather than closing it.
MacGraw has stayed busy because she lives in a small town where many groups need help. She said Santa Fe is a community that cares about animals, and she volunteers and supports the group named Animal Protection New Mexico.
She is proud to be part of her little community’s “world-class organization” because the group has ensured that domestic and wild animals will always be safe, protected, and cared for.
She revealed that she had to stop herself from bringing any more stray animals home. MacGraw has also developed strong relationships with the women in the community. The fact that they didn’t seem to care about their age or appearance impressed her greatly.
A quiet life away from acting in a small town in New Mexico suits her perfectly. Her daily routine is to get up at 5:30 in the morning, feeds her animals, walks, gardens, paints, and volunteers.
Determined to be healthy, she has attended yoga or Pilates classes. She also walks every day as a form of meditation and has a 45-minute session of self-reflection on gratitude.
In one of her reflections, MacGraw said she felt like something was missing, but she has accepted her life’s current circumstances because she’s surrounded by wonderful people with whom she shares love.
She feels incredibly fortunate to have them in her life. In addition to mediating, she maintains contact with a small group of close friends and frequently goes on dates.
MacGraw cherishes her time with her only son, Josh, who is now a thriving author, screenwriter, and filmmaker. She remarked that her son is a wonderful man. The doting mom added:
“He’s my favorite human being on the planet, and he goes out with a girl I’m nuts about. Their relationship is so much about, among other things, friendship and respect.”
Josh is now a father to a son named Jackson. MacGraw is a proud mother and grandmother who has realized that being a parent is one of the “hardest of jobs” yet the most fulfilling in the world.
Overall, MacGraw has found peace and contentment in her simple, quiet, and non “hip” life in Santa Fe. Finally letting go of her past, she has focused on living in the present, cherishing her time with her close friends and family.
Despite her struggles with money and failed relationships, she has found a way to live a fulfilling life and positively impact her community. MacGraw is an inspiration to many, showing that true happiness can be found in the most unexpected places.