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George Clooney's short-lived first marriage, Vegas wedding, and refusal to marry again before finding love with Amal Clooney

George and Amal are now parents to twins Ella and Alexander

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
2 days ago
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Happy birthday George Clooney! The Oscar-winning actor, producer, and philanthropist turns 63 today, and will likely celebrate in Italy with his wife Amal Clooney and their twins, six-year-olds Ella and Alexander.

For the better part of nearly four decades, the star has been in the spotlight, and while his career has experienced several highs, so has his personal life.

Before becoming one of Hollywood's heartthrob dads and the most doting husband to his wife of nearly a decade, the actor was once married to a fellow Hollywood star, which unfortunately didn't get its happily ever after.

Who was George Clooney's first wife?

George's first wife was actress Talia Balsam. Now 65, Talia comes from a family of actors, the daughter of Martin Balsam and Joyce Van Patten, and the niece of actor Dick Van Patten.

Actress Mary Beth McDonough, actor George Clooney and girlfriend actress Talia Balsam attend the First Annual Singers' Salute to the Songwriter on April 7, 1986 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center in Los Angeles, California.© Getty Images
George's first wife was actress Talia Balsam

She began her acting career in the late '70s, at the same time as her ex-husband, and landed her first role of notice in 1977 on the sitcom Happy Days. She continued playing recurring and supporting roles in TV and film for decades.

Her most significant roles include recurring turns on the shows Homeland and Mad Men, plus starring opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in the HBO series Divorce from 2016-19. She is now married to actor John Slattery, with the couple playing Roger and Mona Sterling on Mad Men, and they share one son.

How did George Clooney and Talia Balsam meet?

George and Talia met in 1984 when starring in a local play, and quickly fell in love. However, their relationship didn't last very long and Talia broke things off.

American actors George Clooney and Kelly Preston, circa 1985.© Getty Images
Between their first split, George dated actress Kelly Preston for two years

In between, he dated actress Kelly Preston (the late future wife of John Travolta) from 1987-89, even adopting a Pot-bellied pig with her named Max (who he kept after the break-up).

LATEST: George and Amal Clooney make rare appearance to share impassioned message about their work together

Years later, he and Talia reconnected and things moved quickly. He proposed in 1989 and soon after, that December, they jetted off to Las Vegas and tied the knot.

How did George Clooney and Talia Balsam's marriage end?

Actor George Clooney and wife Talia Balsam attend the ABC Television Affiliates Party on June 14, 1990 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California.© Getty Images
The couple tied the knot in 1989 and were divorced by 1993

Things started off well for the newlyweds. However, just three years in, their marriage started to deteriorate. "It was a very tough time," George told Vanity Fair. "And in the middle of it all I had a bleeding ulcer and I was really sick."

By 1992, he had filed for divorce, which was made official the following year. "I probably – definitely – wasn't someone who should have been married at that point," he shared. "I just don't feel like I gave Talia a fair shot. I was responsible for the failure of that marriage." 

MORE: Amal Clooney's giant $500k 'ethical' engagement ring from husband George

The Syriana actor continued: "I would say to Talia, 'You tell me how much – what you think is fair. I'll write the check. I won't negotiate.'...Instead, I paid $80,000 in lawyers' fees. And that makes me crazy."

Actors Talia Balsam and John Slattery attend A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's 2018 at the Hilton New York on November 10, 2018 in New York City.© Getty Images
Talia has been married to actor John Slattery since 1998

What did George Clooney say about getting married again?

In interviews after the divorce, George emphatically stated that while he still loved kids and wanted to be a parent someday, his stance on marriage had shifted.

MORE: George and Amal Clooney's living room is so palatial in rare glimpse of their home

"I won't marry again," he famously told Barbara Walters in a 1995 interview. He asserted that it was because he "wasn't very good" at marriage, which was reflected in his many relationships post-divorce.

Actor George Clooney smiling in suit© Getty Images
George was in several high-profile relationships between 1995 to 2013

Between 1995 to 2013, he was linked with and dated stars like Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Renée Zellweger, Linda Thompson, and more. He dated Lisa Snowdon on and off for five years, and Krista Allen for two years.

MORE: George and Amal Clooney's relationship timeline

Despite the tense circumstances surrounding their split, George and Talia are now on good terms. In an interview with People in 2016, Talia spoke of her ex-husband's character when promoting her show Divorce: "George is charming. He remains charming. I've worked with him."

Amal and George Clooney at the wedding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018© Getty Images
In 2013, he met Amal Alamuddin, and in September 2014, they got married

Fortunately, in July 2013, George met Amal Alamuddin in Italy, and love quickly blossomed. They were engaged after six months of dating and tied the knot in September 2014.

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