Before Michael Douglas married Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2000, he had a “hippie wedding” with Brenda Vaccaro.
“This was the 1970s. No one got married,” the 77-year-old actress told Closer Weekly. “Then we decided to have a ‘hippie wedding’ at my agent’s house. We said vows that we loved each other and would be together forever.”
Previously, Vaccaro lived with the actor for seven years.
“I did ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ he fell in love with me and asked his dad, Kirk Douglas, to introduce us and offer me a part in [1971’s] ‘Summertree,’” she explained. “He was a great guy and I loved him, but I did not want to marry him.”
However, Vaccaro would change her mind — twice.
“Finally, it came time to say that we were doing it for real,” she told the magazine. “I said, ‘Yes,’ then wound up backing out of it. I really messed that one up.”
The reason? Vaccaro fell in love with another actor named Don Stroud.
“There was this really strong connection — spiritually, sexually, and so overpowering I could not handle it,” she said. “My dear friend Robert Shaw, who was making ‘Jaws,’ told me what I was doing was rash and I was making a mistake — the momentary pleasures like the one with Don would lead to lasting regrets if I broke up with Michael.”
Shaw was right.
“I regret all of it,” she added. “Everything was different back then. There were a lot of drugs. We hung out with Angelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, and it was a crazy time.”
However, the doomed relationship ultimately turned out to be a blessing for both Douglas and Vaccaro. Douglas is still married to Zeta-Jones and they share two children: 16-year-old Dylan and 14-year-old Carys Zeta.
Vaccaro found love again with real estate executive Guy Hector and the pair have been together for 31 years.
“I’ve had the most amazing life!” she said. “I feel spirited, hopeful and excited about the future. I want to do it all!”
The new issue of Closer Weekly is currently on newsstands.