Demi and Bruce join long line of failed Hollywood marriages

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis have gone from golden couple to the latest in a long line of failed celebrity unions.

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis have gone from golden couple to the latest in a long line of failed celebrity unions.

The movie synopsis has probably already been written. She was pure white trash from New Mexico who carved a lucrative career from taking her clothes off. He was the Die Hard action hero with a roving eye. Together they made money, babies and movies. And money. Lots of it.

The news that their marriage had reached the point of no return is mildly eyebrow-raising, but to most Hollywood observers an inevitable development. The real shock is that the union lasted so long.

No matter how much they engaged in public protestations of love the potential for a Joanne Woodward/Paul Newman relationship never really existed.

Give it a few years, the cynics said when they married in November 1987, after a three-month romance. The same critics were confounded when on the surface the couple appeared to have as solid a relationship as is possible in the commitment-shy vicinity of Hollywood.

The usual suspects have been reeled out by "close friends" attempting to explain the break-up. They were spending too much time apart, they said, the pressures of stardom were too much.

But in recent years a series of incidents indicated that time was running out for two of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. Willis (43) was reported to have been incensed when young Titanic star Leonardo di Caprio was photographed leaving their Malibu home while he was away filming. The green-eyed monster struck Moore (35) when her husband befriended fellow Fifth Element star Milla Jovovich and flirted unashamedly at endless publicity events.

Their nanny, Kim Tannihill, further fuelled rumours last year when she said she was suing the couple for the way they had treated her. Her writ included the nugget that she believed the marriage was on the rocks.

In July last year a US tabloid ran a story headlined "Bruce and Demi: On the Rocks, Now It's Turning Into Hollywood's Nastiest Divorce in Years". Moore had spent a wild night with Johnny Depp, the paper said. An Australian magazine alleged that Moore's obsession with exercise and an eating disorder were driving the couple apart. Two lawsuits were duly filed by the couple.

"We are not filing for financial gain but to protect our reputation," said Willis at the time. The marriage was falling apart and no amount of legal letters would paper over the cracks.

Demi Moore was born Demetria Guynes in a trailer-park in Roswell, New Mexico, near legendary Area 51, a top-secret base long rumoured to house extra-terrestrial lifeforms. This geographical titbit strikes a chord with ardent Demi detractors. The woman who sheds her clothes at the drop of a clapper board has alienated many a female movie fan.

There is an opposing view. Moore is viewed by some as a feminist icon because she took one giant step for women by successfully negotiating higher fees. She now reportedly receives £8 million a movie.

Moore was an unlikely candidate for super-stardom. Her mother was an alcoholic, her father a gambler. She first married at 18 to British singer Freddy Moore. She took his name but left him after three years. She acted in soaps and various non-movies before landing a part in the seminal 1980s bratpack film St Elmo's Fire in which she played a cocaine addict. In real life she kicked a similar addiction shortly afterwards.

Willis, whom she met about the same time, came from a similarly inauspicious background. He worked in a factory in New York where he started as a struggling actor. Bit parts followed stints as a barman before he was chosen to star in a romantic detective series, Moonlighting.

While Moore began to beat a path away from the bratpack and landed rolls in box-office hits Ghost, A Few Good Men and Indecent Proposal, Willis, now her husband, made the blockbuster Die Hard and the mediocre Hudson Hawke. After several years in decline, he got back on track with a low-paid but well-received cameo in Pulp Fiction. Die Hard with a Vengeance was followed by Fifth Element and the ascension of Willis's star.

His wife's good fortune has begun to unravel. She starred in such flops as Striptease and recently GI Jane after undergoing breast enlargement surgery to boost her chance of landing roles. She remains one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, but at a price.

A former friend, actress Ally Sheedy, said recently: "She had an adorable little figure and she changed it, made it the focal point and then sold it."

Over the years, Willis and Moore have come to be seen as the worst kind of Hollywood superstars. They flaunt their massive wealth with excessive (even by Tinseltown standards) parties and a hefty entourage of bodyguards, nannies and servants. They are partners in the celebrity restaurant chain Planet Hollywood and own vast amounts of property around their house, set on 40 acres in Hailey, Idaho.

The couple named their daughters Rumer Glenn, Scout La rue and Tallulah Bell. Lucky Rumer was hauled into the publicity game at an early age by appearing in utero with her heavily pregnant mother on the front page of Vanity Fair. Moore appeared nude, albeit covered in body paint, a second time.

Willis has caused controversy by praising the Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan in a recent interview.

The couple have not yet filed for divorce, and nothing is known about custody arrangements for the children. Speaking about Moore in the past, Willis once conceded that their marriage "goes through ups and downs". "It's a little garden that you have to tend all the time," he said. It was one job the couple couldn't pay someone to do.