In the late 1930s, Artie Shaw was one of the most popular big band leaders in the world. The jazz clarinetist not only was one of the most famous musicians of his day, but he also became one of the most desired men around. As cliché as it might be, people find musicians particularly attractive – especially successful ones.
From Lana Turner to Judy Garland and Betty Grable, join Facts Verse as we discuss the many women that Artie Shaw dated or married.
While Artie’s career began to take off and his musical skill grew, his private life too began to take on a life of it’s own. He married his first wife, Jane Cairns, in 1932. Cairns was a typist, but sadly very little else is known about her and no pictures of her are known to exist. Cairns and Shaw’s marriage was annulled just one year after they exchanged vows.
Shaw got married again a year after he and Cairn’s marriage was annulled. This time, he wed Margaret Allen. The two began dating shortly after Shaw left Cairns, and a year later, they were married. The marriage lasted for just three years. In 1937, they got divorced. Once again, there aren’t any known photos of Allen.
Actress Lana Turner was Shaw’s first famous wife. Lana had a thriving career in Hollywood as a film, TV, theater, and radio star. She was recognized not only for her work as an actress but also for being a pin-up model.
At one point, she was the highest-paid woman in the film industry. Being one of the most glamorous stars of her day, during the second world war, US fighter pilots would frequently emblazon her image on their planes.
Turner and Shaw met on the set of the film Dancing Co-Ed. They eloped in Las Vegas in February 1940 even though they had just met and barely were acquainted with each other. The couple’s surprise wedding created a media fiasco and a PR nightmare for MGM executives, who weren’t at all pleased by Turner’s impulsiveness.
While she was married to Shaw, Lana starred in the drama film We Who Are Young, in which she portrayed a woman who marries a coworker despite company policies put in place to discourage such unions.
Just a few months after tying the knot, Lana and Artie got divorced. After the divorce went through, Turner discovered that she was pregnant. Unsure who the father was, Turner secretly had an abortion.
Before we move on to discuss Artie Shaw’s other wives and lovers, take a moment to show Facts Verse a little support by giving this video a like and by subscribing to the channel.
Artie Shaw’s fourth wife, Elizabeth Jane ‘Betty’ Kern Miller, was the daughter of singer-songwriter Jerome Kern. Although Artie was busy working on the music for the Academy Award-Winning film Second Chorus in 1940, he wasn’t too busy to start dating someone and eventually get married again.
Shaw and Kern had one son together, whom they named Steven. Not long after he was born, Shaw and Kern got divorced in 1943.
Ava Lavinia Gardner
Shaw took a stab at marriage once again with yet another actress and singer, Ava Gardner, in 1945. The couple got divorced a little under a year after they walked down the aisle.
Ava was first married to actor Mickey Rooney, but since he repeatedly cheated on her, Ava kicked him to the curb and divorced him in 1943. Her second marriage to Shaw was equally brief as her first one. She later married Frank Sinatra in 1951, but they too got divorced in 1957.
While married to Sinatra, Gardner would often run off to confide in Artie. She and Ol’ Blue Eyes rarely saw eye to eye, and she resented him for being too ‘gentle’.
Artie Shaw gave the gossip rags a ton to report on when he married novelists Kathleen Winsor in 1946. Winsor had rose to fame after publishing her first historical novel, Forever Amber, in 1944. The 972-page book had previously been much longer but was edited down to one-fifth of it’s original manuscript length.
The novel was widely criticized for it’s overt sexual references. Interestingly, 14 US states deemed it pornographic and had it banned. Despite this backlash, the film rights were purchased a month after the book was published, and Forever Amber went on to become one of the best-selling American novels that year.
Winsor had divorced her first husband in 1946. Just ten days later, she married Shaw. Incidentally, Shaw had chewed out his fifth wife, Ava Gardner, for reading Forever Amber, a novel that he deemed trashy. In 1948, just two years after the two got married, Shaw and Winsor got divorced.
Winsor went on to marry her divorce attorney Arnold Krakower. That marriage too ended in divorce. In 1953, Kathleen married her fourth husband, Paul A Porter. The two remained together for the remainder of their lives.
Shaw married his seventh wife, actress Doris Dowling, in 1952. Dowling started her career as a Broadway chorus girl, but she had traveled to out to Hollywood to join her sister Constance. There, she began a career in cinema.
After getting married to Artie, the couple had a son named Jonathan before divorcing in 1956. That same year, Doris married film executive Robert F. Blumofe. That marriage lasted just three years before ending in divorce in 1959. Dowling then married Leonard Kaufman and remained by his side until her death in 2004.
Evelyn Louise Keyes
Keyes was a chorus girl by the age 18. She then moved out to Hollywood to meet up with Cecil B. DeMille, who signed her to a personal contract before she even had the chance to do a screen test. Evelyn went on to be recognized for her performance in the 1939 classic film Gone With The Wind, portraying the character Suellen O’Hara.
Keyes had first been married to Barton Oliver Bainbridge Sr. The two got married in 1938, but Bainbridge ended his own life in 1940.
Shortly before appearing in Gone With The Wind, Keyes had an abortion. Complications of the procedure left her unable to bear children. Not long after that, she married and then promptly divorced director Charles Vidor. She then took another chance on marriage with actor and director John Huston, but that union ended in divorce as well.
After Shaw waltzed into her life, she was ready to finally settle down. Shaw too was tired of all of his short-lived marriages and wanted something more substantial. As such, he and Keyes went on to be married for 28 years.
Wizard of Oz star Judy Garlan fell under Shaw’s spell while on a trip to New York. While their romance was doomed from right out of the gate, their friendship would prove to be one of the most genuine of Shaw’s life.
Judy and Artie met in 1937 after seeing his band perform. At the time, Shaw was still married to Judy’s close friend and professional rival, Lana Turner.
After the show, Garland was so impressed with Shaw’s sound that she went up to him and introduced herself. While she was yet a big star, Artie likely already knew who she was. He was very impressed by her sophistication, intelligence, and musical knowledge.
After they started seeing each other behind Judy’s mother’s back, he taught her what books and novels he thought she should read. Garland was just 16 at the time, and Shaw was 12 years her senior and already married twice.
Shaw loved how bubbly and full of life Judy was. Evidently, according to some sources, their relationship never got serious, as Shaw saw her more as a little sister. However, other reports indicate that they did indeed pursue a more intimate relationship.
This actress, dancer, model, singer, and pin-up girl appeared in 42 films during the 1930s and 40s. She began her career in 1929 at the age of 12. During the 30s, she had contracts with RKO and Paramount. Some of her biggest films were 1940s Down Argentine Way, 1947s Mother Wore Tights, and 1953s How To Marry a Millionaire.
She and Artie Shaw briefly dated in the 1940s.
There you have it – just about everyone that Artie Shaw ever dated or married. It’s mind-boggling that anyone would ever get married eight times, but maintaining healthy, lasting relationships in the spotlight can be quite challenging, to say the least. That being said, you would think that after a certain point, you would cut your losses and give up on the institution – especially after so many failed attempts at making it work.
Did you know that bandleader Artie Shaw was married 8 times and that he dated some of the biggest names in Hollywood back during his heydey? Let us know in the comments.
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