The Interracial Couples Who Broke Barriers In History
Nowadays, most of us don’t even give interracial couples a second look. It’s become normal for people to marry outside of their race, even though these couples still sadly face racism and prejudice in their everyday lives. The iconic interracial couples we know today took their lead from some of the interracial couples throughout history who broke barriers and took their love to the Supreme Court.
The people on this list prove that love knows no color and that love is the best antidote to hate.
Serena Williams And Alexis Ohanian
Serena Williams is one of the best (if not, the best) tennis plays in the world, and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, is the co-founder of Reddit. This couple met in 2015 when both Alexis and Serena were staying at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel. Williams invited Ohanian to a tennis match after they spent the day flirting by the pool and the rest is history.
Serena and Alexis now have a daughter named Olympia together. For Williams, she appreciates how she and her husband are very different people, saying, “We are totally opposite. I think we just complement each other. I think we understand hard work in different ways.”
John Legend And Chrissy Teigen
John Legend and Chrissy Teigen have been together for a very long time, especially in Hollywood years. These two have managed to make love last in a town where most everything is disposable and fleeting. The couple met on a music video set when Chrissy was 20 and John was 28. It was basically love at first sight.
They married in 2013 and today are parents to two adorable children, Miles and Luna, who frequently appear in Teigen’s social media posts. Chrissy recently announced that she’s pregnant with the couple’s third child.
Lisa Bonet And Jason Momoa
Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa aren’t just an interracial couple. They also have quite a large age gap between them. Momoa was born in 1979 and Lisa Bonet was born in 1967. Still, these two have a lot in common. Momoa had been crushing on Bonet ever since he first saw her play Denise Huxtable on television.
The two finally met in 2005 while they were both at a New York jazz club. During an interview with Porter magazine, Bonet said, “In that moment, love came, and it came big, and he did not run as I think a lot of men do. He basically picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, caveman style!”
Ellen Pompeo and Chris Ivery
Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo met her now-husband, Chris Ivery in 2003 at a grocery store. They were friends for a few months before their relationship got romantic. They got married four years later in 2007, and Ellen gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl named Stella Luna, in 2009. They now have three children together.
During an interview with US Weekly, Pompeo discussed her secret to a successful marriage. She said, “just don’t try to change people. They are who they are, and they were fine when you married them, so don’t expect them to change.”
George And Amal Clooney
For a long time, George Clooney was known as the eternal bachelor. The public thought that he was never going to settle down. Then he met Amal. Amal was the woman who got George Clooney to give her a ring, which is quite an accomplishment. She’s also pretty accomplished in er own right. She’s a very successful attorney and businesswoman.
George And Amal Clooney were introduced in 2013 by a mutual friend. Clooney proposed in 2014, and the two married the same year at the Aman Canal Grande resort in Venice, Italy.
Josephine Baker And Jean Lion
We’re taking things way back with a couple who broke barriers back in the 1930s. Singer, actor, and entertainer Josephine Baker had been married twice before accepting a proposal from wealthy French broker Jean Lion. The couple got married in 1937, and their nuptials made Baker a French citizen.
Sadly, this relationship didn’t last very long. The pair got divorced in 1940. Perhaps the split had something to do with Baker becoming a spy for the French military during World War II.
Tina Turner And Erwin Bach
Tina Turner is an icon. She had been through a lot in life before she met her now-husband, Erwin Bach. The pair met in 1986 and they started out their relationship as friends. Bach, a German music executive, quickly fell head over heels for Turner.
The two finally wed in 2013, after they’d been together for 27 years. Turner, who’d been through an abusive first marriage, revealed her newfound happiness with Bach in her memoirs. “I lived through the hellish marriage that almost destroyed me, but I went on,” she said. “Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today.”
Prince And Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger met Prince when she was just starting her career in 1989. They met on the set of Batman. Kim was enthralled by Prince’s big personality. In fact, she was so infatuated with him that she ended up moving all the way to Minneapolis so that they could be together. This relationship wasn’t a lasting one, but Kim has fond memories of her time with Prince.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, the actress said, “It was a really special moment in time, and I have great memories. I don’t put a lot of restrictions on myself; let’s just put it that way. If there’s someone I connect with, we’ll go on these rides together.”
Paula Abdul And Arsenio Hall
While they were never married, talk show host Arsenio Hall dated pop star and choreographer Paula Abdul for a year. The pair met while they were working on the movie Coming to America together.
During an interview with Parade, Hall discussed Abdul, saying, “The most fun I’ve ever had in any phase of my life with a woman was with Paula. We were together because we wanted to be.” The two were spotted out together again in 2009, but it turns out that they’re just really good friends.
David Bowie And Iman
British singer and songwriter David Bowie met supermodel Iman back in 1990 during a dinner party. It was actually Iman’s hairdresser who introduced the two, and, for Bowie, it was love at first sight.
He told Hello! magazine that “[I] couldn’t sleep for the excitement of our first date. That she would be my wife, in my head, was a done deal. I’d never gone after anything…with such passion in all my life.” The two married in 1992 kept a low profile, not wanting their private home life to be plastered all over magazine headlines. Bowie, sadly, passed away in 2016.
John Lennon And Yoko Ono
Legendary Beatles musician John Lennon and artist Yoko Ono met at a London art gallery in 1966. The two instantly connected, starting a somewhat controversial romance, as interracial couples were just coming out of being seen as taboo in the United States.
Three years after their first meeting at one of Ono’s art exhibitions, the couple got married and remained together until Lennon’s assassination in 1980. In 2000, Ono founded the John Lennon Museum in Japan.
Woody Harrelson And Laura Louie
Actor Woody Harrelson met his future wife on the set of Cheers in 1987. As it turned out, Laura Louie was in need of some extra work and looking to further get into the film industry. She worked as his personal assistant for three years. They were together for over a decade before tying the knot in 2008.
Ironically, the happy hippie Harrelson never thought he’d get married, not really believing in it. Well, that is until Laura came into his life. According to Harrelson, it doesn’t take a lot for the couple to be happy — just a beautiful home, their children, and each other.
Kelly Ripa And Mark Consuelos
It might not come as a surprise that Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos found love on their soap opera, All My Children. On-screen, the two were love interests, and in 1995, the two started dating off-screen, too. One year later, the two actors decided to elope in Las Vegas, being happily married with three children ever since.
When asked about what attracted her to Mark all those years ago, Ripa’s answer was simple. She told Woman’s Day that “he was positively an alpha male, and I didn’t think I would be drawn to that. But I just worship him.”
Michael Caine And Shakira Baksh Caine
The relationship between Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh Caine started off like a Hollywood rom-com. In 1971, Caine saw Shakira in a commercial for Maxwell House Coffee, thinking she was the “most beautiful [woman] he had ever seen.” So, of course, he found out where she lives and had a mutual friend set them up.
Apparently, that eventually worked (after he called ten times!), because the two have been married since 1973. During an interview, Caine said, “The last one she decided to go out with me … We went out and fell in love instantly and have never parted since.”
Maya Rudolph And Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson and Maya Rudolph are pretty private about their personal lives. These two met in 2001 and they’ve been together ever since. Technically, they aren’t legally married, although they do refer to each other as husband and wife. They have four children together.
During an interview with US Weekly, Rudolph said, “I think, genuinely, like the effort to make an effort — [that’s] the most romantic gesture. Like, to be present. To show up every day is kind of the most romantic part because you can bail at any moment.”
Eddie Murphy And Paige Butcher
Eddie Murphy met his long-time girlfriend Paige Butcher in 2006 when she was working on Big Momma’s House 2. He went to the set to meet his friend Martin Lawrence but quickly found himself striking up a conversation with Butcher between takes. But they didn’t see each other seriously for many years, finally dating in 2012 and getting engaged in 2018.
While the two take pictures together on the red carpet, they’re very quiet about their personal lives. Butcher even went as far as deleting all of her social media accounts, Telling Vanity Fair, “I’m in a relationship with a celebrity, so I felt like there’s already enough of me out there.”
Sammy Davis Jr. And May Britt
Singer Sammy Davis Jr. and Swedish actresses May Britt married in 1960, during a time when many Americans didn’t approve of interracial coupling. Britt was from a different place, though, and she saw no reason why color should keep her away from the man she loved.
Even though the two divorced eight years after saying their vows, they are said to be leading figures in the fight for marriage equality. Gerald Early, editor of The Sammy Davis Reader, said, “It was one of those things in the ’60s that was part of opening up American society a little bit. [They] were pioneers in making America more accepting of interracial marriage.”
Richard Loving And Mildred Jeter
When family friends Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter married in 1958, they probably had no clue they were going to make history. As an interracial couple in the Commonwealth of Virginia, their sanction was illegal. The two were arrested in the middle of the night, paving the way for the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia.
In a statement to the Washington Evening Star, Jeter said, “not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me.”
Donna Summer And Bruce Sudano
It didn’t take long after meeting at Casablanca Records in 1977 for disco queen Donna Summer and songwriter Bruce Sudano to start dating. Actually, it only took a few months! Then, the two were off, writing legendary tracks and making history together with songs such as “Bad Guys.”
Three years later, the two wed on a 52-acre ranch in Thousand Oaks, California, with their children, until 2012, when Summer passed away from lung cancer.
Bill de Blasio And Chirlane McCray
Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray met in 1991, while he was an aide to the deputy mayor of New York City, and she was writing speeches. As the now-couple tells it, de Blasio pursued McCray, knowing she was a feminist who played for the other team.
During an interview, McCray explained her life simply, saying, “In the 1970s, I identified as a lesbian and wrote about it. In 1991, I met the love of my life, married him.” The two have been happily married since 1994, having two children together.
Robert De Niro And Grace Hightower
Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower’s relationship hasn’t been an easy ride, but let’s start from the beginning. The two met in 987 at a London nightclub, but they didn’t date and get married right away. They waited a decade, tying the knot in 1997. Then, only two years later, divorce and a custody battle ensued.
But, plot twist, the two rekindled their romance and vows in 2004, with De Niro jokingly saying, “[The officiants] can make sure this one sticks.” It didn’t stick, and in 2018 the two split once again.
Pearl Bailey And Louie Bellson
Pearl Bailey was a talented singer and actress throughout the ’40s-’80s. And it was in 1952 that she was introduced to jazz drummer Louie Bellson, the first white musician in Duke Ellington’s band. It was a quick romance, with the two falling for one another in just four days.
During a time when interracial coupling was frowned upon, the two still married. They said their vows in London on November 19, 1952, and were together for 38 years.
Jack Johnson And Irene Pineau
Jack Johnson was the world heavyweight boxing champion, a status that made him turn his nose up to the Jim Crow laws at the time. For him, his third marriage to a third white woman wasn’t abnormal in the 1920s. He met Irene Pineau at an Aurora, Illinois race track in 1924, and were married a year later.
They were together for 21 years, and when asked what she loved about Johnson, Pineau said, “I loved him because of his courage. He faced the world unafraid. There wasn’t anybody or anything he feared.”
Betty And Barney Hill
Betty and Barney Hill were a couple most famous for being the first “alien abductees.” It was during a time when the Hills were fighting for equality and dignity that they wound up losing a day, were supposedly abducted, and ended up having strange dreams of being brought up to an alien spacecraft.
Psychiatrists now believe their alien encounter was nothing more than a hallucination brought on by the stress of being in an interracial relationship during the ’60s. Thankfully, they didn’t allow the terror of the evening to affect their relationship. They were happily married for nine years before Barney’s untimely death in 1969.
Alfre Woodard And Roderick Spencer
Alfre Woodard is no stranger to critics, having dealt with them most of her personal and professional life. But if there is one thing she’s good at, aside from acting, is proving people wrong and standing her ground. And that’s exactly what she did when she married Roderick Spencer in 1983.
At the time, the couple’s relationship was highly criticized. But they stood together, supporting one another through the hard times. Now, they’re considered to be one of the strongest couples in Hollywood, having persevered through prejudice and mockery only to come out stronger.
Sir Seretse Khama And Ruth Williams
“I have met a girl, and I think you should meet her! Somebody I should like to be my wife.” That sentence is what Sir Seretse Khama, later the first president of Botswana, told his friend the first time he saw Ruth Williams. They were in London, and it was pretty much love at first sight.
But it was the ’40s, and they were a consent target for bigots. But they loved each other, getting married in 1948. During an interview with Ebony, Khama said, “But in matters of love the heart is seldom ruled by skin colouring. She did love me, and I knew that this was the woman I wanted for my wife.”
Louisa And Louis George Gregory
Unfortunately, for Louisa and Louis George Gregory, their love story had them apart for most of their marriage. The two met in Egypt in 1911 while on a pilgrimage to the Middle East. While there, they met Baha’i leader Abdu’l-Baha who told the two they should wed.
Their union would become the first interracial marriage in the Baha’i Faith. But not everyone was alright with the interracial coupling, and they spent a lot of time apart. Louis spent much time in the South, teaching the Baha’i Faith while Louisa taught in Eastern Europe. They were married for almost 40 years until Louis’ passing in 1951.
George Schuyler And Josephine Cogdell
George Schuyler was a controversial journalist in the 1920s, something that very much intrigued the young Josephine Cogdell at the time. Being interested in radical politics and new ideas, the wealthy Texas heiress decided to write to Schuyler. They planned to meet each other in New York and, according to them both, it was love at first sight.
They married in 1928, having one daughter, Philippa, who became something of a child music prodigy. The couple remained married until Josephine’s death in 1969.
Gladys Emery and Gunjiro Aoki
As a servant in the Emery house, Gunjiro grew up knowing Gladys. Then, when they were in their 20s, Gladys declared her love for the Japanese man, stating that they were going to get married. Unfortunately for them, her parents and the state of California were very much against their union.
They decided to travel to Oregon, only to find the same racial prejudices. Finally, Gunjiro obtained a marriage license from the King County Courthouse in Seattle, Washington, and the two were able to wed in 1909.
Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche And Juliette Lafargue
Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche met Juliette Lafargue in 1901, while, visiting Villejuif in France. The two married a few years later, in 1908. But because of racial tensions in France during the time, the two made the decision to voyage to Laroche’s homeland of Haiti for employment.
Unfortunately, that voyage happened to be aboard the Titanic. The night of the iceberg crash in 1912, Laroche woke his pregnant wife and two young daughters, getting them to the top deck and on to life rafts. Laroche didn’t make it. He’s thought to be one of three black men aboard the vessel.
Jamie Chung And Bryan Greenberg
While actors Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg are married now, when they first met in 2012, they were both in relationships. Three years later, they were happily married in a beautiful ceremony in Santa Barbra, California. But, interestingly, the two actors chalk their successful relationship up to having alone time.
During an interview with ET, Chung said, “We enjoy spending time together, but we also enjoy spending time alone. It’s our dynamic on how to make it work. He has his own hobbies and interests, and there’s particular ones that bring us together, but we do have our individual outlets, creatively, and things we can just call our own.”
Ryan Piers Williams And America Ferrera
Actress America Ferrera first met Ryan Piers Williams in 2005, and while not a lot is known about their initial meeting, she did star in a student film he was directing at the University of Southern California. They married a few years later, in 2011. Honestly, this is a Hollywood power couple who just loves storytelling and working together.
When asked how it was working with her husband, Ferrera said, “to jump into [a movie] and know that the person who knows you the best and who has your best interest in mind has your back the whole time. We were able to do that for each other.”
George Lucas And Mellody Hobson
After meeting at a business conference in 2006, DreamWorks animation chairman Mellody Hobson began dating film director, producer, and Star Wars creator, George Lucas. The two dated for years before finally getting married on June 22, 2013, at Skywalker Ranch.
When talking with Oprah about their relationship, Hobson explained why it worked, saying, “I think it works because we are extraordinarily open-minded people and we’re open to what the universe brings us, and I think we didn’t have preconceived ideas about what a partnership should be and so we allowed ourselves to discover something that was unexpected.”
Jessica Alba And Cash Warren
Jessica Alba and Cash Warren met on the set of Fantastic Four, in which Alba was starring as one of the heroes, and Warren was working behind the scenes as a production assistant. And while the two were very busy with their respective careers, they still found time for one another, marrying in 2008 in Beverly Hills.
In one of her iVillage blog posts, Alba explained how they keep their marriage strong, saying, “Making time for our relationship in our daily routine — even though it’s surprisingly predictable and may not seem as spicy as our spontaneous pre-kiddo days — [it] really helps keep the romance alive.”
Wanda Sykes And Alex Sykes
For Wanda Sykes and Alex Niedbalski, being an interracial and gay couple was difficult, with marriage equality just beginning to take off in the political realm. The two met in 2006, on a ferry to New York’s Fire Island, dating for a few years before getting married secretly in Las Vegas in 2008.
During an interview with O, Sykes said, “The drive behind me coming out publicly was when it became political, back when Proposition 8 was being talked about. I felt like I had to say something. That’s when I said alright, it’s important to speak out.”
Enrique Iglesias And Anna Kournikova
Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias met professional Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova in 2001, on the set of the pop stars “Escape” music video. Kournikova was playing Iglesias’ love interest in the video, and, from there, the rest is pretty much history. The two began dating, eventually having three beautiful children together.
For the singer and tennis player, marriage isn’t overly important. During an interview with US Weekly, Iglesias said, “I don’t think you love someone more because of a piece of paper. Nowadays, it’s not taboo to have kids and not be married. What makes a difference is that you’re a good parent, period.”
Salma Hayek Pinault And Francois Henri Pinault
French billionaire businessman and philanthropist Francois Henri Pinault and actress Salma Hayek met in 2006, during a gala at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. But Hayek is very protective of the romantic night, saying, “it’s such a romantic, amazing story, but it is mine.”
The two were married a year later, after announcing Hayek’s pregnancy. They opted for two ceremonies, one being a quiet affair while the other was a star-studded celebration in Venice, Italy. When speaking of their marriage, Hayek says, “I get to be who I am with him, and I don’t feel that somebody tries to limit me.”
Luciana Barroso And Matt Damon
As Matt Damon put it, luck was on his side when he met his future wife in 2003. While shooting his movie Stuck on You, filming was moved from Hawaii to Miami. One night, the actor was dragged out to a bar where Luciana Barroso happened to be bartending. For Damon, it was love at first sight, and the two were married in 2005.
For Damon, he feels lucky to have fallen in love with someone outside of Hollywood. And when Vogue asked what his secret to marriage is, the actor said, “I’m lucky I found my wife. And I guess maybe if there’s any secret, it’s to feel lucky.”
Tamera Mowry-Housley And Adam Housley
The Fox News correspondent found out who actress Tamera Mowry was by seeing a picture of her on his economic professor’s wall of “favorite students.” The professor gave Housely her email, and it must have been one heck of a letter because the actress agreed to meet up for a date at P.F. Chang’s in 2005.
Although they’ve been happily married since 2011, they’ve faced their fair share of criticism, being an interracial couple at the time social media was taking off. But Mowry-Housely is ahead of the curve, saying on her talk show, The Real, “being open to learning is the key to making an interracial relationship work.”
Zoe Saldana And Marco Perego
A lot is unclear when it comes to the relationship between actress Zoe Saldana and artist Marco Perego. But if there is one thing that is very clear, it’s that they are very much in love with one another. While there is speculation of when and how they met, the where is in New York.
They had a secret wedding in 2013, something the public didn’t hear about until a few months later. According to Saldana, “As soon as we decided we were going to get married, we didn’t wait. We did it three weeks later.” The couple is still happily married with three beautiful children.