Famous Show-Biz Pairings Who Called It Quits

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It was in 1976 that singer Tina Turner filed for divorce from her abusive husband and musical partner, Ike Turner. The end of this talented, tumultuous duo was to be expected, but not all musical breakups are, and few are ever amicable. DYR looks back at the famous pairs who called it quits.

“Hall & Oates”

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Remember on Friends when Ross and Rachel were on a break, but one of them thought they were broken up and embarked on all sorts of “single” behavior? That wasn’t the case with Hall & Oates, who’ve taken a series of breaks throughout the four decades they’ve been together as a musical group. In the ’80s, at the height of their career, the duo separated after the release of Live at the Apollo, but continued to record together sporadically throughout the ’90s and early 2000s. While Hall & Oates occasionally play shows together, they haven’t recorded new material in almost a decade, but don’t take this as a permanent situation. “I don’t want anybody to think that Hall & Oates is ‘breaking up,’ or any of that nonsense,” says Daryl Hall.

“Simon & Garfunkel”

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In 1970, after releasing their fifth album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, legendary folk duo Simon and Garfunkel announced that they were breaking up. In the decades that followed, the two had a few, short-lived reunions, but failed to make it work permanently. Art Garfunkel finally opened up about on the pair’s split in February 2013, saying that the bulk of their issues were due to Mike Nichols (director of The Graduate) casting him and Paul Simon in the 1970 film Catch-22. Apparently, tensions grew when Nichols cut Simon out of the film completely.

“Sonny & Cher”

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Cherilyn Sarkisian was a 16-year-old high school dropout and Sonny Bono a 27-year-old gofer for record producer Phil Spector. Professional and personal sparks flew despite their differences and the pair began recording together, becoming one of the most popular musical acts of the 1960s. They eventually married in 1969 amidst rumors of Bono’s infidelity, and launched The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour a few years later. Success wasn’t enough to keep the couple together, who divorced in 1975. It took decades to mend their relationship but the two finally did, with Cher even giving the eulogy at Bono’s funeral in 1998.


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Back in the 1980s, British pop duo Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael—a.k.a. Wham!—ruled the charts with their hit record “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” The bubblegum pop tune shot to number one in both the U.K. and the U.S., but the musical high wouldn’t last for long. Reports surfaced that Michael wanted to make music for a more sophisticated audience, so the group held a grand-finale show at Wembley Stadium on June 28th, 1986, before going their separate ways.

“Abbot & Costello”

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The comedy pair first worked together in 1935 at the Eltinge Burlesque Theater on 42nd Street in New York City. The serendipitous arrangement (Abbott jumped in after Costello’s regular partner got sick) led to radio gigs, a 36-film contract with Universal Studios and the legendary routine “Who’s on First?”, with Abbott playing the straight guy to Costello’s goofball character. They made millions together but reportedly feuded in 1945, after Abbott hired one of Costello’s former employees, whom he had allegedly fired. They continued to work during that time, but didn’t speak off camera. Then in 1957, amid reports of possible tax evasion, the two dissolved their longtime partnership.

“Martin & Lewis”

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Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were the classic American comedy team, with Martin serving as the straight man to Lewis’ dim-witted funnyman. What began as a struggling Vegas act blossomed into a successful pairing, in which Martin flexed his musical chops and Lewis handled the slapstick. In 1949 they landed a radio series on NBC, which ran for four years, and co-starred in more than 15 films. Their relationship eventually soured (Martin disagreed with the direction of their act), and the pair didn’t speak for 20 year. Fortunately for fans, one of Lewis’ annual MDA telethons brought them back together in the mid 1970s.

“Nichols & May”

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The improvisational comedy duo met on campus at the University of Chicago in the early 1950s, but it was immediately evident that Nichols and May were headed for the big time. By 1960, the two were on Broadway and were invited to perform at President John F. Kennedy’s legendary Madison Square Garden party. But the two broke up unexpectedly in 1962 to pursue solo projects. A behind-the-scenes reunion took place in 1996 for the film The Birdcage, with Nichols directing and May adapting the screenplay.

“Cheech & Chong”

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Talk about an oxymoron. This Grammy Award-winning team of stoner comedians, comprised of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, were a hit on the stand-up circuit back in the 1970s and ’80s. Their brand of hippie humor was chock-full of drug references, with marijuana often acting as the focal point. They released a number of comedy albums between 1971 and 1981, and appeared in many low-budget cult films, including Up in Smoke, Nice Dreams and Things Are Tough All Over. In 1985, citing a need to develop projects that didn’t focus on drug use, Marin left the group. His departure caused a rift that lasted through the ’90s. Eventually the two made up, and in 2008 Cheech & Chong reunited for a comedy tour.

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