Celeb Love Affairs That Were Kept Secret Until Death

We think we know so much when it comes to our favorite celebrities. But every now and then, a little detail about their complex private lives is unearthed, jolting us to the realization that most of what we know is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a trove of behind-the-camera secrets that don't make it to the public ... at least, not until an insider chooses to divulge. Many a time, such dramatic disclosures come long after the concerned celebrities aren't around to hear them or share their side of the narrative.

Despite death, insight into beloved artists' life stories still always manages to capture fan attention. "We go on their journeys with them and experience their tears and heartache," relationship therapist Audrey Hope told E! News, explaining why fans are so invested in the experiences of celebrities, especially romantic ones. 

Hollywood doesn't just sell dreams of love; it makes them. The dramatic declarations of love we see in the movies — clandestine affairs, emotional entanglements, second chances, covert confessions — aren't just star-studded fantasies. Many actors have replicated cinema in real life, exploring romantic endeavors that sensationally became universal knowledge only after they died. Film sets, glitzy parties, celebrity socials — Hollywood gives great ground for sparks to fly between the who's who of showbiz and entertainment. Some romances are written into history, some are lost between the pages. Here's a list of celebrity love affairs that were kept secret until their deaths. 

Farrah Fawcett and her college sweetheart never lost touch

With Farrah Fawcett's iconic golden blowout, million-watt smile, and effortless retro glam, she presided over the 1970s as America's beloved small-screen sweetheart. Her own heart, though, was commanded by a number of suitors — many known, some unknown. Actor Ryan O'Neal stood out in public as her most well-recognized partner, with whom she had an on-again, off-again liaison from the time her career peaked until the last decade of her life. After Fawcett's death in 2009, an unfamiliar name came to the fore surrounded by claims that he was romantically involved with Fawcett during her final years. 

Greg Lott identified himself as a college boyfriend of Fawcett's, telling ABC News that they were together at the University of Texas and had reconnected in 1998. By then, Fawcett had made her way out of several consecutive relationships, including that with O'Neal. "Farrah Fawcett and I reunited ... in a relationship, a loving, consensual, one-on-one relationship," Lott revealed, claiming that they remained exclusive and together until the "Charlie's Angels" star died. 

Lott and O'Neal apparently didn't get along during Fawcett's lifetime, and even after. One of two legendary paintings Andy Warhol had done of Fawcett was carried off by O'Neal, despite the actor's living trust stating that all her artwork be forwarded to her alma mater. Lott notified the university and was aggressively fighting for the painting's return, CNN reported. A verdict in 2013 permitted O'Neal to keep the painting. 

Colin Farrell shared a romantic relationship with the iconic Elizabeth Taylor

When one hears the name Elizabeth Taylor, the mind immediately flashes back to the golden era of Hollywood when her status as one of the biggest stars of the century defined a whole era of acting glam. Her iconic pairings with leading men of the time — including Paul Newman, James Dean, Richard Burton, and Montgomery Clift — placed her in handsome company. But it was in a much younger pool of men that romance waited for her, in the form of Colin Farrell. Yup! The Irish actor, who has been scoring big global acclaim of late with "The Banshees of Inisherin," was apparently involved with the legendary Taylor.  

Divided by a whole generation, the pair unconventionally crossed paths in a hospital and sent flowers to each other, kindling a friendship that stuck through the final years of Taylor's life until her death in 2011. "It feels like, in my head — not her, I'm projecting — but the last kind of romantic relationship I had, which was never consummated," Farrell said, first making the bombshell revelation on Ellen DeGeneres' show in 2013 (via YouTube).

Though Farrell was married during the time that they connected, he admitted having rather profound feelings for Taylor. Since her death, Farrell has been associated with the late actor's namesake AIDS foundation and, as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, spoken keenly about "keeping her message and the importance of her mission alive." 

Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston apparently wanted to marry

The coming together of two stars as famous as Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson would have been quite something. While the artists never teamed up for a duet that would have doubtless reached chart-topping successes, Houston and Jackson did quietly indulge in a romance behind the scenes during the 1990s. For two of America's biggest acts to cross paths at the time was only inevitable. What wasn't common knowledge was that they shared something more than friendship. 

The supposed affair came to light after Houston's death in 2012, and after Jackson's death in 2009, when the latter's bodyguard approached the press with some unheard-of celebrity gossip. "Whitney practically moved into Michael's ranch and they had a fling like any other young couple," Matt Fiddes told The Sun (via Today). Fiddes further claimed that the "Thriller" hitmaker was even keen on marrying Houston. 

And apparently, the reverse was true as well. Close to both singers, producer David Gest revealed that Houston and Jackson reciprocated a desire to be married but Jackson was too shy to pop the question, per The Indian Express. Interestingly, Houston's death also brought forth an alleged year-long secret affair she had with Jackson's older brother, Jermaine Jackson, in the 1980s. He was married at the time, which was reported as a reason for their split. 

Carrie Fisher had hushed-up links to multiple famous singers

The moment she was unveiled in her Princess Leia fineries, Carrie Fisher became a fantasy of millions. Among them were many contemporaries in her own artistic league who fancied her as well. One such heavy-hitter was rock legend Freddie Mercury. If you're racking your brains to fish out (see what we did there?) a picture of Fisher and Mercury in a romantic embrace, don't strain your memory.

Their affair was a surprise revelation made after Fisher's death in 2016 by way of a biography, "Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds: Princess Leia & Unsinkable Tammy In Hell." Fisher was introduced to him through her mother Debbie Reynolds, who took her teen daughter to a star-studded party hosted by Mick Jagger in the 1970s, the book claimed. 

It was there that Mercury struck up a friendship with Fisher. Though the "Star Wars" actor was initially hesitant about engaging with the Queen vocalist, who was then married to Mary Austin, she was soon enamored of the stage icon. The book gets into scandalous detail, even going on to claim that Fisher explored an affair with another famous queer icon she met at Jagger's party: David Bowie. Though Fisher never addressed these supposed liaisons during her lifetime, she did leave fans with a long-hidden and long-hoped-for secret. She and Harrison Ford were an item. "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend," she told People

Amy Winehouse had a clandestine affair with this fellow rocker

Amy Winehouse's magnificent presence in the world of music was highlighted as extensively as the goings-on in her private sphere. A popular soul and jazz figure until her death in 2011, with a legacy that endures even after, Winehouse was involved in a number of tumultuous relationships during her lifetime that were well-publicized — except one that apparently no one knew about. Libertines frontman and known friend of Winehouse, Pete Doherty, came forward a year after her death with a dramatic revelation about their supposed romantic relationship. "Amy and I were lovers. I loved her then and, well, I still do today," he told The Daily Mail, recalling the large-hearted woman she was. 

Around the period that Doherty was hanging out with her, Winehouse was involved with Blake Fielder-Civil in a famously tempestuous marriage addled with drug issues and jail time. Particularly memorable footage from the noughties hazily harks back to the time Winehouse, Doherty, and a few mice (yup, mice) made a video titled "Winemouse" together, discouraging a then-imprisoned Fielder-Civil from divorcing Winehouse. "If you divorce her you'll have me to deal with," Doherty warned (via Paper). 

Rolling Stone, acknowledging the infamous clip, asked Winehouse about Doherty in 2008. "We're just good friends. ... We're just really close," she said. Doherty claimed that though Winehouse became unkind to him toward the end of their relationship, the two remained in touch until the final year of her life. 

Humphrey Bogart was secretly involved with his hairdresser

Of all the salons in all the towns in all the world, he walked into hers. Well, kinda. Verita Thompson worked as a hairdresser in and around Hollywood during the early 1940s when her paths first crossed with one of cinema's most formidable legends, Humphrey Bogart. "Casablanca" was yet to release when Bogart, who had already secured his place as an American noir icon, locked eyes with Thompson at a party. He was then on his third notoriously volatile marriage to actor Mayo Methot. Thompson was a married woman too, but sparks flew. "Bogie didn't like to dance, but, honey, we danced the night away and from that day on we were lovers," Thompson told the press four decades after Bogart's death in 1957, The Guardian reported. 

Thompson revealed the affair in a tell-all book, "Bogie and Me: A Love Story," in 1982. "He always said we'd make a perfect couple because we were so much alike," she said, via The Independent. Bogart and Thompson's association stretched until 1955, going steady even in the backdrop of Bogart's celebrated high-profile marriage to Lauren Bacall. Given the tightly wound industry norms at the time, Bogart and Thompson's secret love didn't make front-page headlines — but wasn't the best news for the iconic Bogart-Bacall union. Thompson was, in her own words, "Bacall's worst nightmare." She died in 2008, having become an inseparable part of Bogart's legacy. 

John Lennon was tangled up with this famous singer

In examining his immeasurable contribution to music and culture, history often glosses over the fact that John Lennon was a rather notorious adulterer. One of the women he is alleged to have been secretly involved with was the iconic pop singer Alma Cogan. In a startling revelation made nearly half a century after Cogan's death in 1966, her sister Sandra Caron confirmed her clandestine affair with one of the most revered songwriters in history. The Cogan-Lennon pairing was only spoken about in whispers at the time, "but it was something no one admitted because John was married" to Cynthia Lennon then, Caron told Evening Standard

Cogan reportedly hung out with all of the Fab Four but her sexual chemistry with the smart Beatle was intense, so much so that even Cynthia couldn't help but notice "how outrageously she flirted with him." Years after Lennon's death, she admitted she was aware of the spark between her ex-husband and Cogan, as The Daily Mail quoted her saying, "Now that I think about it, with all the emotion gone out of it, I can see the attraction." 

As goes Cynthia's narrative, Lennon was heartbroken after Cogan's death from cancer and found respite in Yoko Ono. In fact, she thought that Lennon's pairing with Cogan, not his legendary one with Ono, was the real deal. It was Lennon's extramarital involvement with the latter that apparently sealed the divorce deal for Cynthia in 1968. 

Sophia Loren was smitten with Cary Grant

What defense do mortals like ourselves have against the charms of Cary Grant, when even a beauty queen like Sophia Loren couldn't resist? In a secret divulged almost three decades after Grant's death, Loren harked back to the 1950s when she had a whirlwind romance with her famous co-star from "The Pride and the Passion."

The film was a Hollywood milestone for Loren, who had so far only enamored audiences on her Italian home base and was debuting opposite one of America's biggest stars. "He looked as though he'd just stepped down from the screen: a dream come true," Loren recalled of her first encounter with Grant, per The Daily Mail. Grant, 30 years her senior, soon asked her out to dinner. 

At the time, Loren was on the cusp of marrying her partner, the Italian film producer Carlo Ponti. Grant himself was on his third marriage to Betsy Drake, but his on-set romance with Loren was so fiery that he was dreaming of a life together. "If you think and pray with me, for the same thing and purpose, all will be right and life will be good," Grant wrote to Loren in a letter made public in her memoir (via The Guardian). Curtains dropped on their passion-charged fantasies when Ponti's lawyers arranged his marriage to Loren by proxy in 1957. Loren later told The Sydney Morning Herald that not long before he died, Grant called her one last time to say goodbye. 

Patrick Swayze and Kirstie Alley were more than friends

Patrick Swayze was married to the love of his life, Lisa Niemi, for 34 years. Childhood sweethearts, the two met during their teens and were together until the "Dirty Dancing" star's tragic death in 2009. Though Niemi is part of Swayze's enduring legacy as his longest partner, a second woman came forward claiming her significance in his life. Actor Kirstie Alley believed she had shared a profound emotional connection with the late dancer around the time the two co-starred in the 1985 television miniseries "North and South." 

During a 2012 appearance on "Entertainment Tonight," she revealed that she and Swayze fell in love despite both of them being married to other people at the time (via Us Weekly). Though the two apparently didn't romantically engage, "I think what we did was worse because I think when you fall in love with someone when you're married, you jeopardize your own marriage and their marriage."

"She thought he was the most handsome, sexy, king person she'd ever met, and each day on the set, she began to fall more and more in love," a source, quoted by Radar Online, said about Alley's strong feelings for Swayze. Long after Swayze's death, she consistently watched the miniseries they had shot together. Best known for her television work in sitcoms "Cheers" and "Veronica's Closet," Alley died in 2022 — also from cancer, like Swayze. 

Lindsay Lohan was apparently one of Heath Ledger's last romances

January 22, 2008, was a tragic day in Hollywood. Actor extraordinaire Heath Ledger was found dead of an accidental drug overdose in New York City. It was a sudden, seismic shock that rattled fans across the world, and also brought forth some unheard-of details about Ledger's life. His long-term relationship with actor Michelle Williams, with whom he also shared a daughter, had come to an end only a few months before he died. After their breakup, the status of Ledger's romantic life was in the shadows ... until it wasn't. 

In a bombshell report after Ledger's death, Radar Online claimed that the "Brokeback Mountain" star was involved with Lindsay Lohan during his final days. Sourcing back to an alleged phone call between Lohan's parents, the outlet quoted her mother saying that Ledger and Lohan were very close, and that his death shook her up. Lohan's mother also expressed fear for the "Mean Girls" star's life, "because when she's drunk or takes an Adderall with it she will do something like Heath Ledger did in a second without thinking." 

Meanwhile, conflicting reports suggest that Ledger's endmost romance was with his good friend Mary-Kate Olsen. "They were hooking up, but neither were particularly interested in making it exclusive," a source told People. It is well-publicized that the masseuse who found Ledger dead in his apartment immediately dialed Olsen. 

Sean Connery had a fling with this famous Bond girl

It's impossible to flash back to "Diamonds Are Forever" without conjuring up the image of a stunning enchantress introducing herself as Plenty O'Toole to James Bond at a casino. Lana Wood, the beauty in question, was more than just an on-screen Bond girl flanking Sean Connery. In a revelation made a year after Connery's death in 2020, Wood revealed that the pair had taken their sizzling chemistry off-camera for a brief fling around the time they filmed their 1971 spy thriller. It was likely a passionate affair, since Wood recalled for Fox News that "kissing wasn't way up there on the list" of events that took place during their liaison. 

Even so, Express quoted her saying that with the knowledge of her covert romance with Connery, acting out intimate scenes with him was especially tough. She said, "I think anyone would be hard-pushed to resist Sean." Despite it all, the award-winning Connery didn't let matters of the heart overshadow his work, with Wood recalling his efficiency on set.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a relationship built to last. Wood alleged that while Connery initiated the affair, it was she who called it off. She was dating music composer Leslie Bricusse at the time and, prizing her connection with him, thought it best to end things with Connery, who replied, "I understand completely." In hindsight, Wood acknowledged that it was embarrassing to think that she believed Connery took their fling seriously at all!