Interracial Celebrity Couples Today and in History

The couples on this list date back to the early 1900s onward

Celebrities have long been trendsetters, making it no surprise that entertainers, athletes and writers engaged in interracial marriage long before such unions were legal. While opponents of interracial marriage today often say that such marriages are doomed, a number of longtime Hollywood couples consist of interracial duos.

Despite the longevity such couples can have, celebrities in interracial marriage have recalled how they’ve been on the receiving end of racist messages because they chose to pursue interracial romance. With this roundup, learn more about famous interracial couples, including gay and straight pairs. Find out about the famous couples who’ve been married for years and the late couples who married when racial segregation was the norm in the United States.

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Longtime Interracial Couples in Hollywood

Matt Damon and wife Luciana Barroso.
Matt Damon and wife Luciana Barroso come from different ethnic backgrounds. Disney - ABC Television Group

 It’s difficult for any marriage in Hollywood to have staying power, but a number of interracial couples, including Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, have been married for years. Ripa, who is white, met Consuelos, who is Hispanic on the soap opera “All My Children.”  Other long-lasting interracial couples in Hollywood include actor Woody Harrelson and his Asian American wife Laura Louie, Matt Damon and his Latina wife Luciana Barroso, and Thandie Newton and her white husband Ol Parker.

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Celebrities Discuss Their Interracial Marriages

Terrence Howard
Actor Terrence Howard has received criticism for marrying interracially. Sean Davis/Flickr.com

The rich and famous aren’t immune to the disapproval interracial couples sometimes face in the United States. Celebrities such as Chris Noth, Terrence Howard and Tamera Mowry-Housley say they’ve all experienced criticism and outright hateful messages because they married someone from a different race.

Noth of “The Good Wife” fame says that he’s received mail warning him not to go to certain locales in the South because his wife, actress Tara Lynn Wilson, is African American.

Terrence Howard accused the black press of lashing out at him because of his marriage to an Asian woman he later claimed was racist.

Tamera Mowry-Housley broke down in an interview on the OWN network after revealing that hateful people have referred to her as the “white man’s whore” because of her marriage to Adam Housley, a white Fox News correspondent.

George Takei and Brad Altman
Actor George Takei with husband, Brad Altman. Greg Hernandez/Flickr.com

Given that gay couples tend to enter interracial relationships more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts, it’s not surprising that a number of celebrities who identify as gay and lesbian are married to or in relationships with people who don’t share their ethnic background.

When “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts came out as a lesbian in December 2013, she revealed that her girlfriend is a white massage therapist named Amber Laign.

Wanda Sykes, another famous black lesbian, married a white woman in 2008. Comedian Mario Cantone, an Italian American, is married to a black man, and comedian Alec Mapa, who’s Filipino, is married to a white man. Actor George Takei, a Japanese American, also has a white husband. More »

Lena Horne
Actress Lena Horne faced a backlash after marrying a white man. Kate Gabrielle/Flickr.com

 The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t legalize interracial marriage until 1967, but a number of famous people, both in and out of Hollywood, married across cultural lines years before the high court’s landmark decision.

Black boxer Jack Johnson, for example, married three white women—all no later than 1925. He was arrested for his romances with white women and often lived abroad to avoid persecution in a United States where Jim Crow was still going strong.

In 1924 socialite Kip Rhinelander made headlines after marrying a mixed-race maid of Caribbean and English background. He tried to have the marriage annulled, but when that proved unsuccessful, he received a divorce from his devoted wife, Alice Jones, and agreed to pay her a monthly pension.

In 1939 and 1941, the writer Richard Wright married—both times to white women of Russian Jewish background. Like Johnson, Wright spent much of his last marriage, which lasted until his death, in Europe.

In 1947, actress and singer Lena Horne married her Jewish manager. The couple received threats and Horne faced criticism in the black press due to her decision to marry interracially.  More »

Wrapping Up

Famous interracial couples reveal the stigmas such pairs have faced throughout history and continue to face today. They also reveal that despite the obstacles mixed-race couples face in society, it's possible for them to have long lasting relationships.