The Amazing Life Story Of The Iconic Ali MacGraw

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She Began Her Career As A Photographer’s Assistant

Every successful celebrity began somewhere. Ali, at age 22, began working at the women’s fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. She worked there as an assistant to influential fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland. She also worked as a photographer’s stylist at the iconic fashion magazine Vogue. These jobs were the root of what turned out to be a successful career.

Her First Marriage Ended In Heartbreak

Like many other people, after college, Ali Macgraw married her college sweetheart- Robin Hoen. Robin was the first of Ali’s three husbands. He was a banker and a recent graduate of the prestigious Harvard University. However, early on she realized he was not the love of her life. Their marriage didn’t last very long- the two got divorced after a year and a half.

Her Assistant Job Lead To A Modeling Career

Although Ali worked as an assistant and stylist- it didn’t last for long. Her natural beauty was hard to ignore, the photographers at Vogue were very impressed by her. They asked her to do some photoshoots herself. It was a great success. She then began her second career as a model. Everyone loved her natural, “less is more” look with little make-up.

Modeling Wasn’t Enough, She Wanted To Act

Ali MacGraw was not satisfied with just a modeling career and decided to go into acting as well. She began her acting career by appearing in television commercials such as the “Polaroid Swinger” camera commercial. Later on, she made her debut in the film industry with the 1968 crime-drama movie A Lovely Way To Die. She played Melody in the film. It was a small role and only the beginning.

She Attended The Same College As Hilary Clinton

Often when choosing a career path, people draw inspiration from their parents. Both of Ali’s parents- Frances and Richard MacGraw, were artists. It’s no wonder she too decided to pursue a career in the arts. She attended Wellesley College- a prestigious school whose alumni include Diane Sawyer and Hilary Clinton. This was only the beginning for Ali.

Acting Was Frightening For Her

In one interview for AARP, she described her choice to become an actress, “I was never trained as an actress. It was frightening for me, every single solitary breathing second. I had some sort of pop-star energy, but I had no qualifications. I was never comfortable.” Despite this, her acting managed to gain momentum and grab the nation’s attention. Her first big part in a film was on the romantic comedy Goodbye Columbus. Ali won a Golden Globe Award for the film as the “most promising newcomer-female.”

 

Producer Robert Evans Fell In Love With Her

Besides winning over Hollywood with the film Goodbye Columbus, she also caught the attention of Robert Evans. Evans was a Paramount executive and very influential in Hollywood. Ali MacGraw caught his eye and the two fell in love. They got married in 1971 and had their only son- Josh. With Robert as her career guide, her acting career took off even further than before.

 

Producer Boyfriend Gets Her Her Big Break

While Ali MacGraw was living a real-life love story with producer Robert Evans- she also acted as Jenny, a student in love, on Love Story, a film produced by Evans. In the film- law student Oliver (played by Ryan O’Neil) and music student Jennifer share a great love despite their different backgrounds. Then tragedy strikes. The film is considered one of the most romantic films of all times and was a great success. MacGraw received an Academy Award nomination for the film.

She Had A Rough Start

Ali MacGraw was born in Pound Ridge, New York. Her mother was Jewish and her father was an Irish American. While her family was loving, her household was not always happy. As she was growing up, she lived in a small one-family home- along with the owners. Money was tight and there was constant tension due to her father’s substance abuse. However, this didn’t stop her from building her successful career.

Many Believed Steve McQueen Was the Love Of Her Life

While Ali was married to Robert Evans, it seems he was not her true love as she later married Steve McQueen. While she ended up divorcing him as well, many people believed he was the love of her life. In fact, when Steve was on his deathbed, he would not agree to see her. According to Marshall Terrill’s biography, many of McQueen’s close friends thought Ali was the one true love of his life which could be the reason he couldn’t bear to see her.

Ali Didn’t Want To Do “The Getaway” At First

After appearing in the successful film Love Story, Ali was in high demand and many filmmakers wanted to work with her. At the time she was married to Robert Evans. He wanted to avoid her acting in preppy roles and set up the meeting for the film The Getaway. At first, Ali didn’t want to do the film. She had a one-year-old baby and didn’t like the script. However, in 1972, Ali MacGraw decided to do it anyway.

She Fell In Love With Steve McQueen During “The Getaway”

As it turns out, the decision to act in The Getaway changed her life forever. During the filming, Steve McQueen and Ali felt a strong attraction to one another. In one interview MacGraw described the feeling, “he was recently separated and free…I was scared of my overwhelming attraction to him.” The two ended up falling in love while Ali was still married to Robert Evans.

She Left Robert Evans For Steve McQueen

The great love between bad boy and icon Steve McQueen and Ali was not a secret. Very quickly the scandal became a  public love affair. As it turns out, The Getaway would be the last role Ali did while still married to Evans. The two divorced in 1972. Robert ended up getting married another six times after his divorce with Ali. However, all of his marriages ended in divorce.

Steve McQueen Wanted Ali To Be A Full-Time Wife

A year after her divorce, Ali married Steve McQueen in 1973. However, as it turns out- their marriage wasn’t the healthiest. As far as Steve was concerned- Ali was better off as a stay at home mom rather than a successful career woman. Ali was madly in love and happy to put her career aside in order to make Steve happy. For five years, Ali put acting on hold and was a full-time wife.

 

Steve McQueen Was A Problematic Husband

While Ali was ready to put her interests aside and make sacrifices for McQueen- he wasn’t able to do the same. Not long after their marriage, McQueen returned to his old habits of substance abuse. He also had various affairs. Many people couldn’t understand how the sophisticated and graceful model turned actress was married to the problematic and rebellious Steve McQueen.

 

Steve McQueen Commanded Her Not To Act

After several years of being a housewife only- Ali MacGraw felt she needed more in her life in order to feel fulfilled. She began talking to Steve about returning to work and acting again. However, he became mad and demanded she stay a housewife. He didn’t want her to have any outside interests or hobbies. He wanted her to stay at home and wait for him to return from work.

 

She Had No Choice But To Leave Steve McQueen

Ali MacGraw was a strong woman and did not want to live under Steve’s control. She couldn’t maintain her housewife role any longer and decided to search for a job in acting. In 1978, she got a role as Melissa in the action film Convoy (directed by Sam Peckinpah). Steve McQueen was very angry and could not accept her decision under any circumstances. In 1978, their marriage came to a nasty end.

 

The Split Left Her With Nothing

It was well known that Steve was a bad boy. He had various affairs while married to Ali. Their divorce ended up being a very awful and nasty process. In fact, Steve was so mad at her, he didn’t leave her any choice and kicked her out of their home even as their son was still living there. But that’s not all- the woman with whom he had his latest affair, Barbara Minty, moved in. She became Steve’s third wife. Ali was left with little money and had to start over.

No Closure For Ali Even On Steve’s Deathbed

In 1978, Steve developed a bad cough. As it turned out, he had cancer- a type associated with asbestos exposure. However, two years later, at age 50, McQueen actually died of a heart attack in his sleep. When he was on his deathbed, Ali hoped to make peace with Steve. However, he still would not speak to her. In Marshal Terrill’s biography, it is noted that she was possibly the love of his life and therefore he couldn’t bear to see her. Ali never got closure from Steve.

A Wildfire Destroyed Her House

After the divorce, Ali didn’t have much money and was working on rebuilding her acting career. However, Ali didn’t have much luck at the time and while she was working to rebuild herself- a wildfire broke out and burned down her Malibu home. The fire ended up completely destroying her home and she lost many sentimental items including pictures which held memories close to her heart.

 

L.A. Was Too Judgmental For Her

When the fire broke out, Ali viewed it as a wake-up call. She wanted to leave Los Angeles for quite some time. However, only when the fire broke out, she made the life-changing decision and decided to move to New Mexico. In one interview she talked about the fire as the sign she needed, “I thought, ‘this has got to be happening to me for a reason.'” She also talked about her L.A life, “It’s tough being an ex-female pop star getting older in a town that often judges you by ‘how do you look?'”

 

Despite Steve’s Wishes, She Returned To The Screen

Ali was motivated to continue with her acting career despite Steve’s wishes. In 1983, she appeared in the mini-series The Winds of War which depicts the trials of the Henry and Jastrow families during World War II. She also acted in Gunsmoke: The Long Ride– a 1993 western film which is based on the well-known series Gunsmoke. She even appeared in a prime-time soap opera- Dynasty. Although, she received much criticism for that role and later admitted she only did it for the money.

She Battled Depression

After Ali gave up acting at the peak of her fame- her recovery process was tough. In ’82 she spent almost a year without work. According to her autobiography, Moving Pictures, she battled depression and substance abuse. In one interview for PEOPLE magazine she talked about the year she had no work, “I had this enormous depression all year. I spent hours every day scattered, a big waste of energy. People tell me that I am well-grounded. I am sane in the New England sense of the word. But last year I was just holding on.”

She Went To A Facility to Battle Her Demons

According to her autobiography Moving Pictures, a friend helped show her the way. This friend persuaded her to go to the Betty Ford Clinic. Ali knew she needed help but only after she went, she realized it was life-saving. One article in the Los Angeles Times discussed her autobiography and stated, “she wants to demonstrate that at 50, having, as she and numerous other Betty Ford-ers have put it, ‘dealt with her garbage,’ she has become a grown-up.”

She Was Named One Of The Most Beautiful People

Ali MacGraw has become an icon. While she did model during her career, she focused mostly on acting. However, her beauty was something that could not be ignored. In 1991, she was included in PEOPLE magazine’s list of the “50 Most Beautiful People In the World.” This comes as no surprise- her beauty is truly unique.

She Is Largely Responsible For Today’s Yoga Craze

Ali decided to devote to a healthy lifestyle. Starting in her early 50s, she has embraced the yogi lifestyle and even released several yoga videos. Her video Ali MacGraw Yoga Mind and Body, which presents several physical workouts and meditations, has become a bestseller. In fact, it was so popular that Vanity Fair titled it as largely responsible for yoga’s popularity in the USA in recent years.

She Has Her Own Clothing Line

In recent years, Ali has been focusing on another passion of hers- design and art. She has recently released a clothing line called “ali4ibu.” The line is for the Ibu movement. In Malay (the language of Indonesia), Ibu means “a woman of respect.” The movement, which works with 71 artisan groups in 34 countries, helps woman around the world become economically self-sufficient.

She Is An Animal Rights Activist

One important cause which Ali has fought for throughout the years is animal rights. She was once quoted saying, “I’ve always loved animals and I always thought that they were, if not better, then the absolute equal of any two-legged creature that God ever created.” She even made a public service announcement for PETA asking residents to include their animals in their evacuation plans for when the next natural disaster hits.

Ali And Ryan O’Neal Had Huge Crushes On Each Other

Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal worked together in the romantic film Love Story. One reason for the movie’s success was the amazing chemistry they had on screen. As it turns out, their chemistry was not only in front of the cameras. In one interview with Oprah Winfrey, the two admitted they had “huge crushes” on each other. O’Neal said, “at the end of the day, I was so sad because her husband might be in town and she’d be with him!” 

On Ryan O’Neal: “Our Chemistry Has Not Changed”

Love Story is still considered to this day one of the most romantic films ever made. Both Ali and co-star Ryan O’Neal earned Academy Award nominations for their leads in the film. Fans worldwide waited years to see them reunite. And in 2016, they finally did at a national tour of the traveling play Love Letters. MacGraw described the reunion to PEOPLE magazine, “our chemistry has not changed. We still feel the same about each other.”

Ali Admits She Wasn’t An Easy Partner To Be With

Throughout the years, Ali MacGraw got married and divorced three times. In one interview, she discussed her love life and admitted she wasn’t an easy partner. She said, “I was an atrocious partner…I had no room for compromise, and most importantly, I never told anybody who I was. I wanted them to read my mind about what I wanted.”

She Remained Very Close With Ex-Husband Robert

While her relationship with Steve McQueen ended badly and with no closure, she remained friends with her ex-husband Robert Evans. Since the two share a son, Josh Evans, it was easier for them to remain life-long friends. In fact, Ali even accompanied ex-husband Robert when he was awarded his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

She’s Not A Fan Of Today’s Celebrity Culture

Ali was mainly active in the Hollywood scene in the 1970s and 1980s. However, since then much has changed in celebrity culture, and Ali is not a fan. In one interview with the executive director of Huntsville’s Museum of Art, Ali claimed that she doesn’t like today’s trend of celebs who become “famous for being famous.” According to her, it’s the same culture which chooses “popular over quality” and “pop stars over real actors.” She was quoted saying, “I’m waiting in terror for the inevitable Steve McQueen movie in which I will be played by, ooh, Selena Gomez.”

Kendall Jenner Has Been Compared To Ali MacGraw

Nowadays, one of the most famous reality television shows is Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And one of its stars-Kendall Jenner, has been compared to the young Ali MacGraw. Besides being a reality star, Jenner is also a successful model. Jenner has admitted that she has been compared to MacGraw several times, “my mom would hear from her friends that they thought I looked like her.” In fact, Kendall’s mother, Kris, made her watch Love Story. However, Kendall admitted she fell asleep in the middle of the viewing. 

Fashion Designer Michael Kors Is A Big Fan

In the 1970s, Ali Macgraw was a true fashion icon. She had a very distinctive, bohemian look. Even today she still influences the fashion world. In fact, the well-known fashion designer Michael Kors is a big fan of hers. In one interview he said, “Ali MacGraw is proof that you can be a star but still be a real individual. She’s the quintessential American girl.” Kors has also been quoted saying that there’s always a little bit of Jenny Cavilleri in his designs (referring to Ali’s character in Love Story). 

She Says Actors Like McQueen Just Don’t Exist Anymore

While Ali is a fan of various modern-day actors (such as Anthony Hopkins and Susan Sarandon), she has admitted that legendary actors just aren’t here anymore. She was referring to actors such as Steve McQueen, Robert Mitchum, and Cary Grant. She was quoted saying, “they were so larger than life…and there’s some other little piece that is missing for me,” in modern-day stars.

Her Hairstyle Has Set Current Trends

In the 1970s, Ali was considered to be a true “it-girl.” One style which she became known for was her signature hairstyle: the center-part. The style consists of super straight hair which frames the face. Since then and up until this day, the center-part has become a timeless look. Throughout the years, women have continued to adopt this style; something about its youthfulness and ease made it a very popular.

She Was Titled A “Santa Fe Living Treasure”

The actress has been a New Mexico resident for a long time. Recently she was honored for her advocacy work in the area. She was titled one of the four “Santa Fe Living Treasures.” The organization is known for honoring elders who have served the community with good deeds. Ali advocates for various causes, many of them pertaining to animal rights. In one interview she claimed that her past fame helps her gain more attention to these issues.

Her Net Worth Is Estimated At $6 Million

In the past several decades, Ali managed to take part in several different careers. She is not only an actress but also a model, an author, a designer, and an animal rights activist. With all these professions under her belt, it’s no wonder her net worth is estimated at $6 million. One thing is for certain, she worked hard to get where she is today!

The Most Important Thing In Her Life

Ali has been through some problematic relationships in the past. After all, divorcing three times can be challenging. However, she is always able to bounce back. Today, she stresses the importance and value of friendship in her life. In one interview for the Man Repeller, she said, “with all of the different stages — and when you get older, there are a lot of stages — you do get to a point where you think what’s really, really, really important?…The most important thing is the quality of your friendships.”

Ali MacGraw Today

Today Ali is considered to be a legendary actress, fashion icon, model, author, and activist. Nowadays, she is busy keeping up with her clothing line ali4ibu and doing yoga in her free time. She also enjoys spending time with her 47-year-old son, Josh Evans, who has become a filmmaker, producer, screenwriter, and actor.

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