Photo credit by Kanijoman
Behind every great man is a great woman: a phrase feminists cherish and misogynists abhor. Though the statement might be true in some cases it is more often a matter of equal ground. Who says the woman has to be behind the man, or reversely, the man in front of the woman? History shows that both man and woman work best when side by side.
A number of famous couples have succeeded in both love and work. It is quite hard to find a perfect collaborator, so why not find the perfect partner? Many celebrities and historical figures have collaborated together to further enrich and revitalize each other’s careers. Many of these collaborations were not as highly advertised as others and remain slightly mysterious (or controversial) to this day.
Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric - Einstein’s first wife was a Serbian mathematician, one of the first women to study physics in Europe. The pair were married for sixteen years (from 1903-1919), in which time Maric contributed her opinion to Einstein’s studies. While working on the Annus Mirabilis papers Einstein described topics as “our theory” and “our work”, indicating Maric as a contributor. She is also rumored to have contributed to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. These claims are often disregarded by scientists and historians, but the truth of her contributions may never be known. Einstein admired Maric’s thirst and passion for knowledge as well as her strong and independent nature, considering her his equal. The two eventually divorced after collaborating on many ideas (and two children).
Alfred and Alma Hitchcock - The famed suspense director married Alma Reville in 1926 after meeting at a film studio in London. Keeping his personal life in the business, Alma was an assistant director, screenwriter, and editor. She served as Hitchcock’s right-hand throughout his career, offering her opinion on every aspect of the films he directed. Like all good collaborators, Alfred Hitchcock was smart to take her advice. Alma noticed that Janet Leigh had swallowed after her death scene in Psycho and Hitchcock was forced to return to editing and alter the negative to fix the image. Alma Hitchcock had a great ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for continuity. Though she is not credited, it is rumored that she contributed dialogue to a number of the director’s famous films.
Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan - It is hard to argue that underground folk and jazz music hero Tom Waits might never have reached iconic status were it not for his marriage to Kathleen Brennan. The two met in 1980 on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s One From the Heart (Waits provided the soundtrack and Brennan was a script analyst). Love and marriage followed, as did frequent collaboration. Though originally serving as an inspiration (Waits penned the song “Johnsburg, Illinois” after Brennan’s home town), it was not long before she began writing songs. Since the mid-80’s, Brennan has been credited on most of her husband’s material as both lyricist and music arranger. She is also a painter, contributing art to some of Tom’s album booklets. Little is known about the mysterious couple, and Brennan is rarely seen in public. They prefer to live a quiet life (rumor has it on a farm somewhere in California) and that seems to work just fine for both music, art, and love.