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12 sitcom couples who were married in real life

There's a good reason these actors had chemistry.

Cast chemistry can make or break a television show, especially a romantic comedy. A sitcom about a married couple needs believable leads at its center. Of course, there is a simple way to ensure this. A studio can cast a real-life couple.

Well, it's easier said than done. For starters, incredibly funny husband-wife duos do not just fall off trees. Then there is the fact that Hollywood relationships have the success rate of the Cleveland Browns. If the marriage falls apart, a hit show might, too.

Despite the odds, these loving, lovable partnerships made for some fantastic television. Let's take a look at some television couples who happened to be married offscreen. You can watch many of them on MeTV!

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1

Oscar and Blanche Madison on 'The Odd Couple'

Jack Klugman and Brett Somers

We begin with a failed fictional marriage. The premise of the show, of course is two recently divorced men rooming together. Brett Somers, one of the sharpest wits on Match Game, portrayed Oscar Madison's ex. It was a case of foreshadowing, of life imitating art. Somers and Klugman would divorce in 1977.

2

Col. Hogan and Fräulein Hilda on 'Hogan's Heroes'

Bob Crane and Sigrid Valdis

Yes, there was love in this WWII prison camp. Hogan and Hilda have a flirtatious, kissing relationship, though it is often implied the romance runs deeper. At one point, the Germany secretary drops his imprisoned beau a hint, telling him she expects an engagement ring in exhange for her help. In 1970, the two actors married on the set of the sitcom.


3

Louie De Palma and Zena Sherman on 'Taxi'

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman

Louie, the high-strung head dispatcher in the taxi depot, ran hot and cold with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Zena. The actors met and moved in together in 1971, though did not marry until 1982. Just this year, the two separated.

4

Bridget and Bernie Steinberg on 'Bridget Loves Bernie'

Meredith Baxter and David Birney

This charming pair had natural chemistry. The two would marry in 1974. That romantic spark was captured in Bridget Loves Bernie, a sitcom about an interfaith marriage. The CBS comedy became the No. 5 show of the 1972–73 season. However, a handful of religious leaders led a vocal attack on the series. Boycotts were threatened and Meredith Baxter claimed to have received bomb threats. That was enough to put an end to Bridget Loves Bernie.

Image: The Everett Collection

5

Steve Elliott and Betty Jo on 'Petticoat Junction'

Linda Kaye Henning and Mike Minor

This is one of those instances when an event on TV syncs up with one in real life. Minor and Henning bonded on the set of Petticoat Junction while their characters, Steve Elliott and Betty Jo, formed a romance. The onscreen couple married during the show's fifth season in 1967, and about a year later, Minor and Henning tied the knot. If only the couple's real relationship was as good as their fictional one. Minor and Henning divorced in 1973 and didn't have any children. 

6

George and Katherine Papadopolis on 'Webster'

Alex Karras and Susan Clark

Hard-nosed Detroit Lions star and four-time Pro Bowler Alex Karras made an uncommonly smooth transition into huggable TV dad. In 1975, he appeared in a TV movie called Babe, and fell in love with its star, Susan Clark. The two married in 1980. Three years later, they headlined Webster alongside Emmanuel Lewis. The two remained married until Karras passed away in 2012.

7

Dick and Paula Hollister on 'He & She'

Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss

Considered a forerunner to the smart, sophisticated comedy of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, this sitcom raked in the Emmy nominations in its one and only year, but lost the ratings war to Green Acres. Prentiss and Benjamin played a thoroughly modern working couple, a cartoonist and a social worker. One episode won "Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Comedy Series." The two stars remain married to this day!

Image: Wikimedia Commons / CBS

8

Stu and June Erwin on 'The Trouble with Father'

Stuart Erwin and June Collyer

This early series, which ran from 1950–55, helped set the mold for the typical family sitcom. Both began their careers in film — what other choice was there in the 1930s? After taking a decade off in the 1940s, Collyer returned to acting to join her husband on ABC. The kids on the show were not their actual children, however.

Image: The Everett Collection

9

Jeannie and the Blue Djinn on 'I Dream of Jeannie'

Barbara Eden and Michael Ansara

Okay, admittedly this is not a true relationship, certainly not a healthy one, at least. Jeannie was a human who refused to marry the magical Blue Djinn. So, he turned her into a genie in a bottle. The role was played by Ansara, who had married Eden in 1958. It was his second of three marriages, as the two split in 1974.

Image: The Everett Collection

10

George and Marion Kerby on 'Topper'

Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling

People today often complain that TV just takes its ideas from the movies. Hollywood did that back in the 1950s, too, as this sitcom was based on a popular 1937 film. A ratings hit, this supernatural tale revolved around a friendly ghost couple (and their ghost dog) who "haunt" the new tenants of their former home. Kind of like Beetlejuice, in a way.

Image: The Everett Collection

11

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson on 'The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet'

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson

The epitome of the real-life TV couple, Ozzie and Harriet turned their hit show — still the longest-running sitcom of all time — into a family affair, bringing their talented teen-idol children along for the ride. It almost operated like reality TV. We honestly believed their life was this picture perfect and pleasant.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

12

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on 'I Love Lucy'

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz

You didn't think we were going to forget them, did you? Not only did Ball and Arnaz have one of the best marriages on television, they also were a powerful force behind the scenes. Together, they founded Desilu Studios, making Ball the first woman in charge of a production company. Although the professional success lasted, the marriage didn't. The couple divorced in 1960 after 20 years and two children.

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