It’s easy to understand why many celebs pair off with other celebs. After all, dealing with the demands of Hollywood life has to be a lot easier with a partner who can understand the ins and outs of the entertainment biz. But not all celebrity relationships are created equal, and for the folks on this list, love happened far from Tinseltown.
Through chance meetings, family friends, and non-Hollywood work associations, these stars fell hard for so-called "normals," and what’s more interesting than that, perhaps, is the fact that despite the instant relief of no longer having to do so, these spouses of the stars kept their jobs.
Yep, you read that right. This group that includes lawyers, a stockbroker, an advertising executive, and even a highway patrolman all chose to keep punching a clock rather than retiring early to champagne wishes and caviar dreams. These are the celeb spouses who quietly work a regular job.
The good husband
Julianna Margulies spent seven years portraying Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife, the hit CBS drama that portrayed the far-from-ideal marriage of a lawyer and her philandering politician husband. In real life, it’s Margulies who married the lawyer, Harvard Law graduate Keith Lieberthal.
In 2011, Margulies shared with Ellen DeGeneres (via Entertainment Weekly) the story of how she met her normie Prince Charming. "I met my husband at a dinner party that I wasn’t going to go to through an agent I didn’t sign with," Margulies said. "I was like, ‘I’ll come for a drink.’ I just started a Broadway show so I didn’t want to stay out late. Famous last words. I went, and there was Keith." The unlucky agent happened to know the soon-to-be very lucky Lieberthal from college.
Margulies and Lieberthal hit it off immediately. They married one year later, just ahead of the birth of their son, Keiran, according to People. Asked how their union survives the sometimes rocky road of stardom, Margulies said, "I married a rock, who understands what I do without any resentment."
Justin Mikita is Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s partner in many ways
Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson met his husband, lawyer and activist Justin Mikita, at the gym, but according to Us Weekly, they like to tell people it was through "mutual friends." Regardless of their origin story, it seems that Mikita’s career has had more of an influence over his star hubby than the other way around.
In a 2014 interview with Out, Mikita, who had previously "worked for the American Foundation for Equal Rights on the Prop 8 case," talked about a new foundation that he coaxed Ferguson into starting. That foundation, Tie the Knot, is a fundraising effort that sells celebrity-designed bow-ties to finance advocacy "for the LGBTQ civil rights throughout the United States & beyond."
"It was really cool to see him being gratified by doing something he never thought that he had in him," Mikita told Out of Ferguson’s involvement with Tie the Knot. "He never thought of himself as an activist."
Asked about the impetus for his activism during his 2015 Reddit AMA, Ferguson revealed just how influential Mikita was in that regard. "Having been bullied as a kid I really felt for people who felt marginalized or ‘less than,’" Ferguson wrote. "I wanted to use my new platform to help people. Justin, my husband has been an amazing partner in helping me make those ideas a reality. He is equally passionate and has great ideas."
A romance built on activism
Like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, actress and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon also married an influential activist civilian. According to City & State, Christine Marinoni owned a "lesbian coffee shop/bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn" in the mid-’90s, and after one of her employees was "a victim of a hate crime," she became active in advocating for LGBT issues.
According to the Advocate, Nixon met and became friends with Marinoni in 2001, when both women worked on causes in education. At the time, Nixon was in a long-term relationship with Danny Mozes, the father of two of her children. They split up in 2003, and by 2004, Nixon and Marinoni were an item.
Nixon and Marinoni wed in 2012, according to People, after waiting three years following their engagement for same sex marriage to be legal in their home state of New York. Marinoni became a stay-at-home mom to both Nixon’s kids with Mozes, as well as the son they had together in 2011, Max.
Eventually, Marinoni returned to work in the political sphere, taking a job within the New York Department of Education as "a special adviser for community partnerships," according to the New York Post. She resigned from the position in March 2018, presumably to alleviate any possible conflict of interest should she inevitably decide to contribute to Nixon’s campaign.
Marcia Cross found love at the florist
Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross found her non-Hollywood bliss with financial adviser Tom Mahoney, and according to People, it was Cross who made the first move. Speaking with the mag the year after their 2006 marriage, Cross said she left her number for Mahoney after seeing him "outside an L.A. flower store" in 2004. They had dinner a week later, and the rest was history.
In 2007, Cross and Mahoney welcomed twin daughters Savannah and Eden. Though the happy couple is relatively private about its relationship, it was reported in 2009 that Mahoney underwent treatment for an unspecified form of cancer. According to the Daily Mail, he "lost significant amounts of weight" and "the majority of his hair" during treatment.
Fortunately, Cross told TV Guide in 2010 that Mahoney was "absolutely 100 percent clear at the moment." She added, "It’s always checking, checking, checking for another year or so." We here at Nicki Swift certainly hope for the best.
Seth Meyers’ wife’s job is no joke
Seth Meyers currently hosts Late Night with Seth Meyers, but it was thanks to his previous gig, Saturday Night Live, that he found the love of his life. Speaking with Your Tango, Meyers revealed that he met his wife, attorney Alexi Ashe, at fellow SNL cast member Chris Kattan’s wedding. Ashe was there with her sister, who "worked in the set design department of SNL." Meyers said it was love at first sight, and described Ashe as "a very smart woman, smarter than me." He also shared that she "works at the Brooklyn D.A.’s office," but that is a pretty humble description of his wife’s credentials.
According to Human Rights First, Ashe has worked extensively in efforts to combat human trafficking. She’s worked in the Special Victims and Human Trafficking Bureaus of the D.A.’s office and has served on the board of both the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition and Human Rights First. Her work within the justice system eventually paved the way for a career in human trafficking advocacy.
Speaking with the Vineyard Gazette of her pivot away from criminal prosecution, Ashe said, "It was really hard for me when a case was over to say goodbye and good luck and not know the next steps. I wanted so badly to be giving them services while also prosecuting their case. And so I’m not surprised that I now find myself as a service provider."
Lisa Kudrow and her husband started out as…friends
There’s not a whole lot of publicly available information about Friends star Lisa Kudrow’s husband, Michel Stern. He is usually referred to in the press as a "French advertising executive" or "French businessman," but that’s about as deep as his biographical background gets. Kudrow, however, has shed a bit of light on the origin story of their romance.
According to the Daily Mail, Kudrow met Stern while she was "living with a French girl and he had just moved here." Kudrow was instantly attracted to him, but there was a snag: Stern was dating her roommate. "When he’d come to pick her up, he’d say, ‘Oh, hello Lisa,’ and I’d say, ‘Hi,’ and I’d go and leave the room and he thought I was a freak," she said of the awkward situation. The relationship between Stern and Kudrow’s roommate only lasted two and a half months.
Six years later, Kudrow and Stern bumped into each other at the roommate’s birthday party, and they’ve been together ever since. They wed in 1995 and welcomed son Julian in 1998. Asked about the secret to her marital longevity, the actress told Glamour, "When [Michel and I] decided to get married, we understood: We’re not promising to love each other forever, because you can’t do that, but we are promising to work on whatever problems come up. We’re committed to our marriage working."
Speeding tickets are probably NBD for Alison Sweeney
It may seem like The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney’s marriage to California Highway Patrolman David Sanov is one of the more unusual pairings on this list, and perhaps it would be, if say, they met after he pulled her over or something. But their love story is actually a pretty common one: They’ve know each other since they were little kids.
Speaking with Working Mother in 2010, the former Days of Our Lives star said they became acquainted because their parents worked together, but they didn’t start dating until she was 21. "I totally had a crush on him when we were young," Sweeney said. After dating for two years, they tied the knot. "We have similar values and personal beliefs," she said. "But we’re also opposites. I’m a little more optimistic. He’s a realist. My general attitude is: It’ll be fine; it’ll work out. It infuriates him."
Sweeney expanded on the success of her marriage to Health in 2015, when she shared that she and Sarnov use their anniversary each year to analyze their relationship. "We kind of give each other a job evaluation, which sounds a little embarrassing!" she said, adding, "We talk about our three favorite things about the other person and then three things that we could work on."
Okay, so maybe their relationship is a bit more unusual than most.
Tracey Stewart’s regular job became so much more
Former The Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s wife, Tracey Stewart, actually spent much of her life working regular jobs that she really didn’t like in the design field. It wasn’t until her husband encouraged her to find a job that would "make [her] cry," according to NPR, that she went back to school to become a veterinary technician. "He was absolutely right," Tracey said. "It was the best job I ever had and I truly loved that job."
Tracey turned her passion and training into a whole new focus for her life. She wrote a book about animal stewardship, and together with Jon, bought a 12-acre New Jersey farm with the intention of turning it into a non-profit animal rescue, according to The New York Times. Tracey also founded Moomah, the online lifestyle magazine that covers topics ranging from veganism to sustainable living, to, of course, animal rights advocacy.
Granted, Tracey has now become something of a minor celebrity in that niche world, but it’s interesting to think that while her husband cracked jokes on TV every night, she was possibly in an animal hospital somewhere, holding down an angry cat having its nails clipped.
Is Gal Gadot sure her husband doesn’t work for Hallmark?
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot’s husband, Yaron Varsano, has a "regular job," since he happens to be a real estate developer who sold his Tel Aviv hotel for more than $27 million in 2015, according to Globes. On top of that, as of this writing, he’s listed as "self-employed" on Facebook, but he could just be taking a nice little self-financed sabbatical. Anyway, Varsano’s technically not a celebrity, so we’re including him on this list.
According to a 2016 Glamour interview, Gadot said she met Varsano "nearly 10 years ago through mutual friends at this very strange party in the Israeli desert." Like many others on this list, she said it was love at first sight — for him. "He told me on our second date he was serious and wasn’t going to wait more than two years to ask me to marry him," Gadot said. Varsano did exactly that in 2008, although Gadot has never revealed the details of the proposal other than to say that it was "very special."
Varsano once publicly shared his love for Gadot in a Facebook post celebrating their anniversary. "10 years have gone by, yet it feels like yesterday we first met… My heart will forever beat to the sound of our love," he wrote. Wow. Forget real estate, this guy has a future in poetry.
Ken Jeong has the perfect prescription for a good marriage
It’s pretty common knowledge that Ken Jeong, the actor who got his start playing Katherine Heigl’s cantankerous doctor in Knocked Up, is actually a licensed medical practitioner. In fact, so is his wife, Dr. Tran Ho, who Jeong credits as the sole reason he transitioned into acting in the first place.
Speaking with People in 2015, Jeong revealed that Ho "still works part time," and that when it came to his acting career, she "was like a good college coach telling the star player it was time to go pro." In an interview with Conan, Jeong said he met Ho met while working at the same practice. They hit it off right away and were engaged within a few months.
Jeong reiterated his devotion to Ho in a touching Mother’s Day tribute for HuffPost. In it, he shared that Ho battled "a highly aggressive form of breast cancer" in 2008, which was the year after the birth of their twin daughters, Zooey and Alexa, and just as Jeong landed his career-defining role as Leslie Chow in The Hangover. Even in this difficult time, Ho championed Jeong’s career and insisted he take the role even as she embarked on several years of "grueling treatments."
"When Tran was told she was cancer-free, it was the greatest moment of my life," Jeong wrote. "In those two years, I fell in love with my wife all over again and discovered a deeper love and appreciation for her than I ever had. For that, I am thankful."