Published October 02, 2009
Three weeks into the fall TV season, Julianna Margulies and her new show, "The Good Wife," are getting rave reviews. It looks like Alicia Florrick, the disgraced politician's wife played by Margulies, is going to stick around for a while, just like the women who served as the inspiration for her character.
The show's creators, the husband-and-wife team Robert and Michelle King, wondered about the real-life women who stand by their men in their time of disgrace, and the couple ended up writing a series about the phenomenon. It's Margulies' best TV work since "ER," and it gives some insight into these real-life good wives who've endured public humiliation brought on by their husbands' private missteps.
Hillary Clinton is the poster girl for the "stand by your man" set. When the Monica Lewinsky affair broke in 1998, after reports had already surfaced about Clinton's liaisons with Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones, the entire nation, if not the world, wondered, "Why does she stay?" We all assumed it was because they had some kind of arrangement: they stayed together to get to the top, and she would look the other way. Little did Bill know, HIS Presidency was not the top for Hillary, and through her own Presidential campaign and subsequent position as Secretary of State, he's had a lot of paying back to do.
Back in the '60s a girl stayed with her guy no matter what. It's just what you did. Even if your husband ran his car off a bridge and a young woman accidently died. In 1969, Joan Kennedy, first wife of Senator Ted Kennedy, was pregnant and confined to bed rest when she got up, got dressed, and accompanied her husband to the funeral of Mary Jo Kopechne, the woman killed in Teddy's accident; she then attended his court hearing that week. She suffered her third miscarriage a few days later. If that's not being a good wife, we don't know what is. Joan and Teddy stayed together for another 13 years before finally calling it quits in 1982.
When the Kings came up with the idea for "The Good Wife," they were reportedly watching ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resign from office after news of his involvement with a prostitution ring broke. Standing staunchly by his side was his wife, Silda. She forgave the "Luv Gov" for the $80,000 he spent over several years on call girls. She forgave him so much, she even threw him a 50th birthday party this past summer. We're guessing the DJ was prohibited from playing Ashley Dupre's latest pop song.
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of North Carolina Senator and ex-Presidential candidate John Edwards, has got to be the strongest woman in the world. Not only has she endured decades of political campaigns (including two Presidential ones), she also has survived the loss of a child and has been living with incurable cancer since 2007. And as if all that weren't enough for one woman to endure, she has stayed with her cheating husband, who admitted to an affair with Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker on his campaign trail. Plus, tabloid stories have reported that he fathered Hunter's child (though he has not admitted paternity). Through it all, Elizabeth has supported John, even going on "Oprah" to explain her position that "John had made a terrible mistake," and as long as it was just this one time, she can forgive him. But even the strongest have their breaking points, and as rumors swirl that John's (ex?) mistress and love child are planning a move to North Carolina near the Edwards' beach home, reports have erupted that Elizabeth is, at long last, speaking to divorce lawyers.
When ex-Illinois State Representative Rod Blagojevich was arrested for bribery in December 2008, his good wife, Patti, defended him. When he was impeached and prohibited from holding a public office in Illinois ever again, Patti supported her husband's cries of foul play. When he went on his publicity campaign to try to clear his name, she followed suit by joining the cast of "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here" (sadly for her, Spencer and Heidi grabbed all the attention and no one paid much notice to her pleas of innocence on her husband's behalf). We're not sure if her position has to do with her undying love for Rod or that fact that she took part in some of the calls discussing the selling of Obama's Senate seat (though no charges have been filed against her).
This past June, Nevada Senator John Ensign stepped in front of the cameras and admitted to having an affair with a campaign worker in 2008. Although his wife, Darlene, was not physically next to him during the press conference, she did stand by her man. She quickly released a statement saying, "We have worked through the situation and our marriage has become stronger." Their union may be better off, but his potential Presidential campaign in 2012 has taken a fatal hit.
In August of last year, David Duchovny checked himself into rehab for sex addiction. The case was one of life imitating art, as Duchovny plays a sex addict who has destroyed his marriage on "Californication." His wife, Téa Leoni, stuck with her man for a while, but the pair did split a few months later. They have reportedly reconciled and have been spotted together on several occasions in the last few months (including family vacations), looking very affectionate. So does this mean he's cured? Only Téa knows for sure.
In August 2004, Dina McGreevey stood directly by her husband's side (actually, a little behind and to his right, in the stance taken by all good wives) when then New Jersey Governor James McGreevey announced that he'd had an affair and was resigning. What made Dina's support especially brave (or crazy, depending on your point of view) was that McGreevey was also admitting that his indiscretion was with another man. And, as if that weren't devastating enough, the other man was the person McGreevey had appointed as New Jersey Homeland Security Advisor — and who was threatening him with a sexual harassment law suit. Dina did divorce her husband three months later. If you want all the sordid details, you can read them in his book, "The Confession."
Tammy Faye Bakker
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the faces of the religious right in the '70s and '80s. They were founding members of the 700 Club, and their series, "The P.T.L. Club," made them household names. But in 1987, a scandal broke, revealing that Jim Bakker had used $287,000 of the church's money to cover up his sexual relationship with secretary Jessica Hahn. But Tammy believed in Jim and became famous for those tears of mascara flowing down her over-painted cheeks. Five years later, she did eventually for divorce while he was in prison, saying that she could "not pretend anymore." We're guessing after all that insanity, she felt right at home on "The Surreal Life."
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