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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas reach 20 years of marriage

Showbusiness marriages aren’t renowned for their longevity. So when Catherine Zeta-Jones, now 51, married actor Michael Douglas, 25 years her senior, not many people believed they’d still be happily together two decades on.

But, yesterday, the two stars celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. 

And, just like any Oscar-worthy film script, their love story has been full of highs and lows. Here, CLAUDIA CONNELL tells the tale of girl meets just-a-tad-older boy . . . 

1. Romancing the Jones 

When Catherine Zeta-Jones, now 51, married actor Michael Douglas, 25 years her senior, not many people believed they'd still be happily together two decades on

When Catherine Zeta-Jones, now 51, married actor Michael Douglas, 25 years her senior, not many people believed they’d still be happily together two decades on

The scene is a glamorous film festival in France in 1998. A raven-haired young beauty from a Welsh seaside town meets Hollywood acting royalty.

‘I want to father your children,’ he tells her (yes really), using a line that had never let him down before. But not this time. ‘I’ve heard a lot about you, it’s nice to know it’s all true. Goodnight!’ storms the headstrong young star.

The next day a huge bouquet arrives with a note from him saying sorry. It seems to do the trick. Fast forward through a cutesy dating montage to September 1999 as the couple throw a joint birthday party in New York to celebrate their new love

2. Diamonds are forever

Actress Catherine Zeta Jones shows off her engagement ring during a trip to Mallorca, Spain

Actress Catherine Zeta Jones shows off her engagement ring during a trip to Mallorca, Spain 

It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and our happy couple are at Michael’s luxury ski lodge in Aspen, Colorado. ‘Is it snowing? I hadn’t noticed,’ she says. Suddenly, he drops to his knee and proposes with a £1 million ten-carat diamond ring. Who could have seen it coming?

Three months later, in March 2000, they show off the rock — and Catherine’s baby bump — on holiday in Majorca, left. But what’s this? Michael is still married!

3. Dylan’s debut 

In August 2000, the couple welcomed baby Dylan who was named after Welsh playwright Dylan Thomas

In August 2000, the couple welcomed baby Dylan who was named after Welsh playwright Dylan Thomas

Flash forward to August 2000 when baby Dylan, named after Welsh playwright Dylan Thomas, arrives. 

Two years earlier Michael boldly stated that he wanted to father our heroine’s baby, so dreams do come true! After agreeing a £30 million settlement, Michael finalises his divorce from first wife Diandra.

Don’t worry, it barely makes a dent in his £250million fortune.

 4. The wedding Of The Year, OK?

In November 2000 the happy couple had a £1million deal with OK! magazine for exclusive rights to their wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel

In November 2000 the happy couple had a £1million deal with OK! magazine for exclusive rights to their wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel

‘Greed is good,’ as someone once said. And in November 2000 our happy couple strike a £1million deal with OK! magazine for exclusive rights to their wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel. 

In her £100,000 Christian Lacroix gown, Catherine glows with happiness. What she doesn’t know is an uninvited guest is out to sabotage the day … See Number 7. 

 5. A trophy wife (and husband)

The couple went on to star in the 2000 thriller Traffic in which he plays a politician and she plays a gang leader's wife

The couple went on to star in the 2000 thriller Traffic in which he plays a politician and she plays a gang leader’s wife

Our couple want to make a movie together. A fluffy romance? No, it’s a gritty drama about the illegal drugs trade. In 2000 thriller Traffic he plays a politician, she plays a gang leader’s wife. It’s a risk. Will they tarnish their golden image?

Never fear! In early 2001, the sound of champagne corks popping fills the air as Catherine and Michael celebrate the movie’s haul of awards, including a Screen Actors Guild one for best cast.

6. Love continues to bloom

In October 2002, the couple announced that they were expecting another child — a girl to be named Carys

In October 2002, the couple announced that they were expecting another child — a girl to be named Carys

Two years into their marriage, in October 2002, they are expecting another child — a girl to be named Carys. 

They go to Bermuda for a charity ball and spend the night dancing to Let’s Stay Together. Her pretty head rests on his manly shoulders as the palms sway in the breeze. 

7. Courtroom drama 

The couple are caught up in a court battle as they sue Hello! magazine for sneakily publishing pictures of their wedding

The couple are caught up in a court battle as they sue Hello! magazine for sneakily publishing pictures of their wedding

The wedding secret is finally revealed. But the couple are caught up in a court battle as they sue Hello! magazine for sneakily publishing pictures of their wedding. 

At the High Court in London in February 2003, Catherine appears in the witness box. ‘I felt devastated,’ she says. 

She adds that the £1 million OK! paid for the exclusive photos was ‘not that much’. Victory is theirs. 

 8. Gong girl

In 2003  Catherine shouts 'thank you Swansea' as she collects her Oscar for best supporting actress in Chicago

In 2003  Catherine shouts ‘thank you Swansea’ as she collects her Oscar for best supporting actress in Chicago

‘Thank you Swansea, I love you,’ shouts Catherine as she collects her Oscar for best supporting act-ress in Chicago in 2003.

The (non Welsh) audience exchange confused looks — is Swansea her therapist? All the same, they are enchanted by her down- to-earth charm.

She places her statuette on the mantelpiece next to her husband’s. They’re the toast of Tinseltown — and all that jazz.

 9. Face off

On holiday in Barbados in 2005, Michael is seen with a bruised and bleeding face

On holiday in Barbados in 2005, Michael is seen with a bruised and bleeding face

On holiday in Barbados in 2005, Michael is seen with a bruised and bleeding face. Was he injured in a sword fight? Did he fall from a horse? Or maybe he had a facelift?

Every movie needs a mystery, and the audience are left to decide this one for themselves.

10. Step-Mommy Dearest

Proving she is no wicked stepmother, in April 2010 our fairy tale princess writes to the courts pleading with them to be lenient with her wayward stepson Cameron, then 31, who had been charged with dealing drugs. 

Her words are deeply moving … but to no avail. He gets five years in jail.

 11. Tragedy strikes

It's August 2010 and the pair are preparing to celebrate ten years of marriage. But every film buff knows that when the romantic leads appear blissful, tragedy is around the corner

It’s August 2010 and the pair are preparing to celebrate ten years of marriage. But every film buff knows that when the romantic leads appear blissful, tragedy is around the corner

It’s August 2010 and the pair are preparing to celebrate ten years of marriage. But every film buff knows that when the romantic leads appear blissful, tragedy is around the corner. And so it proves true when Michael reveals he has stage four throat cancer.

His beautiful wife is stoic by his side. But is implying that oral sex caused it a good idea? Oh, Michael. Every loving wife has her limits.

12. Fight Club

Our heroine emerged from London’s Claridge’s Hotel in February 2011 and there was a scuffle as she tried to get through the paparazzi

Our heroine emerged from London’s Claridge’s Hotel in February 2011 and there was a scuffle as she tried to get through the paparazzi

The first rule of Hollywood is that you don’t get caught brawling. The second rule is that, if you do get caught, turn it into your best performance.

As our heroine emerged from London’s Claridge’s Hotel in February 2011, there was a scuffle as she tried to get through the paparazzi. Her husband gallantly defended her honour.

13. Smiles . . . APART

In August 2013, the couple announce their separation and Catherine is being treated for bipolar disorder

In August 2013, the couple announce their separation and Catherine is being treated for bipolar disorder

It’s the 2013 Oscars. But dark clouds are gathering. In August, the couple announce their separation. Catherine is being treated for bipolar disorder.

14. Unbreakable!

Then, in July 2015, they take to the red carpet in London's Leicester Square with their children, Dylan and Carys, to promote Michael's new film Ant-Man

Then, in July 2015, they take to the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square with their children, Dylan and Carys, to promote Michael’s new film Ant-Man

After just six months apart, our stars are back together.

Then, in July 2015, they take to the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square with their children, Dylan and Carys, to promote Michael’s new film Ant-Man.

Cue the soundtrack of triumphant music. There’s no crushing the Douglases — this is one of the great Hollywood comebacks.

15. Moving into the White House

In 2016 the couple bought a eight-bedroom , 18-bathroom new home in Bedford, New York, bought for £3.8 million

In 2016 the couple bought a eight-bedroom , 18-bathroom new home in Bedford, New York, bought for £3.8 million

The panoramic lens reveals a majestic white house in the distance. Has our romance turned into a political drama?

No, it’s not in Washington, it’s their presidential eight- bedroom 18-bathroom new home in Bedford, New York, bought for £3.8 million in 2016.

16. And the award for the best wife goes to…

Catherine tenderly kissed Michael after he wins a Golden Globe in 2019 for Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method

Catherine tenderly kissed Michael after he wins a Golden Globe in 2019 for Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method

Michael wins a Golden Globe in 2019 for Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method. Enter Catherine. Tenderly kissing him on the head, she turns in a real-life ‘best wife in a supporting role’ performance.

 17. In bed with Catherine

Catherine stares down the camera lens and invites viewers to climb between the sheets with her on shopping channel QVC

Catherine stares down the camera lens and invites viewers to climb between the sheets with her on shopping channel QVC

Her dark eyes twinkling with mischief, Catherine stares down the camera lens and invites viewers to climb between the sheets with her. ‘Just feel it, it’s glorious,’ she purrs. 

Viewers’ hearts race — can it be? But Michael can relax. She’s just selling her new range of homeware Casa Zeta- Jones on shopping channel QVC. Every actress needs a second string to her bow.

18. A Final Twist

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones on the red carpet at the Emmys last year

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones on the red carpet at the Emmys last year

For the stars of Hollywood, 2020 is a disaster. Covid means no work, premieres or parties. Forlorn, she stumbles across a snap of a happier time on the red carpet at the Emmys last year. Things will get better.

19. Happily Ever After!

They embrace and upload their movies on social media. The music builds as fireworks light up the sky.

They embrace and upload their movies on social media. The music builds as fireworks light up the sky. 

It’s the morning of their 20th wedding anniversary. He has made a special recording of the first moment he saw her in Zorro. She blushes and laughs — she’s made a home movie, too, set to the music of Snow White’s Some Day My Prince Will Come.

They embrace and upload their movies on social media. The music builds as fireworks light up the sky.

Eat your heart out Disney.    


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