The Greatest Love Triangles

Love Triangles

The love triangle, invented by the Phoenicians (citation needed), is one of the greatest trials a couple can endure (or not endure), along with bear-baiting, getting from Van Cortlandt Park to Coney Island, or shopping at Ikea together. No one, be they king, pauper, or regrettably-mustached ’70s guitar virtuoso, is immune to its perils. But the stories spawned from such drama become legend. Here now are the ten greatest love triangles of our time. Pick a side. Or three.

10. Joey Ramone, Linda Ramone, and Johnny Ramone

 Joey Ramone, Linda Ramone, and Johnny RamoneNo matter how tough punk rockers may act, they’re just as susceptible to heartbreak as the rest of us. The story goes that when Joey Ramone found out his bandmate Johnny Ramone was seeing his former girlfriend Linda, he wrote “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” a not-so-subtle jab at both Johnny’s conservative politics and, er, baby-taking-away habits. Johnny’s eventual marriage to Linda put him and Joey on nonspeaking terms, although the two continued performing together for years. Awkward.

9. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Aniston

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer AnistonAngelina Jolie was Billy Bob Thornton’s hot but weird and totally-okay-with-mouth-kissing-her-brother ex-wife. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were championed as the Hollywood couple who had actually figured out how to make marriage and business work. And theirs was a love triangle that would feed the families of tabloid journalists for years to come. When news of the Aniston-Pitt divorce hit in 2005, America sank to its knees. Some say national confidence has never recovered.

8. Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Eddie Fisher

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Eddie FisherWhen Elizabeth Taylor met Richard Burton on the set of 1963’s Cleopatra, the two entered into one of Hollywood’s most tempestuous romances, making them a kind of proto-Brangelina. (Rich-abeth? Eliza-Burton?) Although they were both still married to other people at the time, Liz was no stranger to sordid affairs — she’d stolen her then-husband Eddie Fisher from her friend Debbie Reynolds. She soon divorced Fisher to marry Burton. Fisher’s plight is a reminder of a key relationship truth: if someone’s willing to cheat with you, they may soon be willing to cheat on you. 

7. Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim, and Faith Evans

Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, and Faith EvansOne probably shouldn’t expect fidelity from an MC who raps so reverently about his dick, so consider this the least surprising entry on the list. Lil’ Kim was one of several women with whom Biggie Smalls allegedly cheated on his wife/baby mama Faith Evans. Evans then found herself at the center of further rumors when Biggie’s rival Tupac (you may have heard of him) released a track to claiming the two had slept together. Kim would later exploit the dalliance to no end, while Evans would sing the hook on Puff Daddy’s hit “I’ll Be Missing You,” before… not doing much else, really. The whole thing seems like a surreal rap soap opera but, again, we’re talking about a protagonist whose sincerest expression of affection was called “Me & My Bitch.” 

6. Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards

Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith RichardsItalian actress and fashion model Anita Pallenberg represents the gold standard of groupiedom. After meeting The Rolling Stones backstage at a Munich concert, Anita struck up a relationship with Brian Jones. Following a sex-, drugs-, and, presumably, rock-and-roll-fueled romance, she traded up for Keith Richards, whom she was with for more than a decade. But things weren’t all heroin, Chuck Berry riffs, and precariously dangled-cigarettes in Richardsville: Pallenberg had a a fling with Mick Jagger while the pair were scoring Performance, thereby scoring the coveted groupie hat trick and seemingly breaking Richards’ heart in the process. To this day, Pallenberg remains an inspiration to anyone who dreams of one day sleeping with most of a world-famous rock band. 

5. Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and June Miller

Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and June MillerHenry Miller was no stranger to sex, as anyone who’s read, well, virtually any of his work can attest. But he might have met his match in pioneering female eroticist Anaïs Nin. Nin was entranced by Miller, and so bankrolled his time in Paris and the first pressing of Tropic of Cancer. They also had a lot of sex. Then Nin became somewhat… infatuated with Miller’s wife, June, entering into a close and sexually-charged friendship with her. Nin lavished June with jewelry, money, and clothesoften to the point of bankrupting herself, but the pair never actually consummated anything — Nin simply considered June the perfect femme fatale. Nin’s diary documenting the trio’s exploits was eventually turned into a not-too-terrible film called Henry & June, which is a fun way to feel kind of smart while watching what is essentially softcore porn starring famous literary figures.

4. George Harrison, Patti Boyd, and Eric Clapton

Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and June MillerThe achingly pretty Patti Boyd had already inspired “Something” and a few other George Harrison songs by the time the couple’s friend Eric Clapton developed a bit of a thing for her. Clapton’s solution was to begin dating (and living with) Boyd’s seventeen-year-old sister, Paula. Oh, and to write “Layla,” one of the most searing proclamations of unrequited love ever put to tape. Harrison and Boyd separated in 1974, and she married Clapton in 1979, before leaving him in 1984 and divorcing him in 1988. (Apparently there was quite a line at the courthouse.) Harrison and Clapton, for their part, remained good friends and kept a great attitude about the whole thing, apparently even referring to themselves as each other’s “husband-in-law.” Hey, it sure beats “weiner cousins.”

3. Petter Lindström, Ingrid Bergman, and Roberto Rosselini

Petter Lindström, Ingrid Bergman, and Roberto RosseliniYou might have inspired a slew of passive-aggressive Facebook status updates when you broke up Brendan and Julia, but you probably weren’t ever publicly denounced in Congress. Ingrid Bergman moved to America while still married to neurosurgeon Pia Petter Lindströmbut while filming Stromboli in 1950 with Roberto Rossellini, the two fell in love and conceived a child, the gloriously-named Renato Roberto Ranaldo Giusto Giuseppe Rossellini, or “Robin” for short. When the news broke in the States, Bergman was savaged: Senator Edwin C. Johnson called her a “free-love cultist,” and “a horrible example of womanhood,” and “a powerful influence for evil,” in characteristically subdued Congressional language. Oh, and then Stromboli bombed. Ah, well. At least we got Isabella Rossellini out of the whole thing. 

2. Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Princess Diana

Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, and Princess DianaKate Middleton and Prince William may be Cinderella and Prince Charming incarnate, but the royal romance between Prince Charles and Princess Diana was more Grimm than Disney. Their marriage was marred by an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, who Charles met at a polo match during the ‘70s, which we’re pretty sure makes this the most British love story ever. Diana called Camilla “the Rottweiler;” Camilla’s husband, meanwhile, not only knew of the affair but was polite enough to consent to it, which definitely makes this the most British love story ever. The Prince and the Duchess eventually got their happy ending when they wed in 2005, but that was only after they’d both divorced their partners and Diana died tragically in a car accident, which kind of puts a damper on their whole “inspiring, decade-spanning romance” thing. 

1. John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie KennedyWhat can we say about this love triangle that hasn’t been said? It’ll probably be remembered in mythic terms long after slightly more consequential affairs like the Cuban Missile Crisis are forgotten. Still, it’s hard to watch Monroe’s notorious “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance and not think, “Cuban what who?”

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The Greatest Love Triangles

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