Plenty of high-profile Long Island love stories have played out over the past several generations. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are five of those stories, ranging from heartbreaking tragedy to a fleeting love affair to modern-day marriage.
Historians believe that the country’s first Valentine was given on Long Island during the Revolutionary War. British officer Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe was occupying the home of wealthy American merchant Samuel Townsend in Oyster Bay, which is now the Raynham Hall Museum. Simcoe stayed in the house for six months in an attempt to get Townsend, a known Patriot, to sign an oath of loyalty to King George III, which he eventually did.
During that time, Simcoe pursued Townsend’s daughter, Sarah “Sally” Townsend. To try and woo her, historians say, he gave her poems believed to be the first Valentines given in the country. The two never became a couple, and Simcoe had a wife back in Great Britain at the time. The Raynham Hall Museum has the handwritten poetry, dated Feb. 14, 1779, on display.
TEDDY’S DOUBLE VALENTINE’S DAY TRAGEDY
Years before he became president, on Feb. 14, 1884, Theodore Roosevelt’s mother, Mittie, and wife, Alice Lee, died within hours of each other. Lee had just given birth to the couple’s daughter, Alice, two days earlier. Roosevelt was so struck by heartbreak that he left New York to move out west, leaving baby Alice with his sister.
He returned to raise his daughter and remarried by 1886. Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, which is now the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, also known as the “Teddy Roosevelt House,” was built during this tumultuous time in his life in the 1880s.
BOGIE AND BACALL
Humphrey “Bogie” Bogart and Lauren Bacall had an unlikely but fulfilling relationship in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The actor and actress met on a film set in 1944 when Bogart was 46 and Bacall was 19. The age difference did not keep them apart, however, and they married the next year.
The couple went on to star in four films together before Bogart died of cancer in 1957, leaving Bacall a widow at age 32. Bacall became a Hamptons regular after that and died in 2014. When once asked about her 12-year marriage with “Bogie,” she said, “It was much too short. We had a lovely life together.”
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, co-stars of the 1963 film Cleopatra, had a scandalous relationship from start to finish. They each cheated on their partners to be with each other, and when the news got out, they quickly got married and retreated to Pembroke, the since-demolished Glen Cove estate, for a weekend honeymoon.
The couple was in 11 movies together and paparazzi spotted them at Long Island establishments several times throughout the relationship. Neighbors reported the two got into some fierce arguments throughout the years. They divorced in 1974, remarried in ‘75, and had a final divorce in ‘76. While the two partied at various Long Island mansions, separately, Burton claimed the two were still together, but they each eventually married other people.
Long Island residents Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa, both television stars, are perhaps the most popular LI, celebrity couple of our time. The couple met on the set of All My Children in 1995. A year later, they eloped in Las Vegas.
Now, 25 years later, the couple has three children of their own. The two spend some of their marriage apart, while Consuelos is filming Riverdale and Ripa is filming Live With Kelly and Ryan, but they say they’re making it work just fine and often post about their relationship on social media, usually about how much they miss each other and counting down the days until they’re together again.
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