‘It’s a Wonderful Life’s’ Gloria Grahame Married Her Stepson Years After She Was Spotted With Him in Bed

“Crossfire” actress Gloria Grahame married her stepson, Tony, eight years after her second husband discovered them in bed. It was her longest relationship.

Gloria Grahame’s love life was controversial. Apart from dating a nearly three-decade younger man later in life, she cheated on her second husband, Nicholas Ray, with his son, Tony.

Ray could never forgive them – not even a decade later when Grahame and Tony married and raised two children together. Here’s Grahame’s unusual story.

Gloria Grahame in ‘A Woman’s Secret’ in 1949 | Photo: Getty Images

Born in November 1923, Grahame grew up in Los Angeles, California. Her mother was Jean Hallward, a British stage actress who wanted her kids to find greater success in showbiz. 

Grahame’s life changed in 1944 when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) co-founder Louis B. Mayer saw her during a Broadway production and gave her a contract in his media company.

Promotional photo of Gloria Grahame circa 1948 | Photo: Getty Images

She made her film debut in 1944’s “Blonde Fever,” but her career skyrocketed with 1946’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In 1952, Grahame took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “The Bad and the Beautiful.” 

She only said, “Thank you very much,” and left the stage when she accepted the award. According to actress Terry Moore, Grahame was insecure and always felt unqualified.

Gloria Grahame kissing her Oscar in 1952 | Photo: YouTube/Sussex Daily News Ver.2

Grahame’s career in the 1940s was flourishing, but her personal life was a mess. She filed for divorce from actor Stanley Clements, her first husband, in 1946, even before celebrating their first anniversary. 

They eventually got back together, but he physically abused her. The same day their marriage was annulled in 1948, she married her second husband, “Rebel Without a Cause” director Nicholas Ray.

“From the press’s reaction, you’d have thought I was committing incest or robbing the cradle.”

Nicholas Ray and Gloria Grahame circa 1950 | Photo: Getty Images

Ray and Grahame’s relationship was destined to fail from the start. He once admitted he was “infatuated” by his wife, but he didn’t like her very much. To prevent her from spending almost $40,000, he gambled it away on their wedding night.

Three years after saying “I do,” Grahame cheated on her husband with her stepson, Tony. Worse, Ray discovered his wife and son in bed at their Malibu home. They divorced in 1952, but the reason for their separation was kept a secret for a decade.

The actress married TV producer Cy Howard in 1954, but their relationship was short and traumatic. During one of their multiple fights, Grahame pulled a gun on Howard.

Gloria Grahame circa de 1950s | Photo: YouTube/Sussex Daily News Ver.2

Grahame kept working in Hollywood until 1962 when everyone discovered she secretly married Tony (Ray’s son) two years earlier in Mexico. People were shocked because she was in a serious relationship with her stepson, but she was defiant. She said

“I married Ray, the director. People yawned. Later on, I married his son, and from the press’s reaction, you’d have thought I was committing incest or robbing the cradle.”

Promotional photo of Gloria Grahame | Photo: YouTube/Sussex Daily News Ver.2


Although nobody expected much of Grahame and Tony’s relationship, they stayed together for 14 years and welcomed two sons. However, their relationship and her reputation of being difficult to work with significantly harmed her career.

Ray never accepted Grahame and Tony’s romance. Apart from their age gap (Tony was 14 years younger), he couldn’t forgive them for cheating on him and remained estranged from Tony until his passing.

In 1974, Grahame and Tony divorced, and her Hollywood career was also fading. Four years later, she moved to London to work on a theater production and met Peter Turner

Promotional photo of Gloria Grahame | Photo: YouTube/Sussex Daily News Ver.2

Almost 30 years her junior, Turner began an on-and-off affair with her and eventually moved into her apartment in New York. Unfortunately, she kept disappearing with no explanations.

In 1980, Turner grew tired of his partner’s repetitive behavior and returned to England. He learned the reason for Grahame’s strange behavior one year later: she had been secretly pushing him away because of her breast cancer diagnosis.

Doctors first told her she had cancer in 1974. After changing her diet and lifestyle and getting radiation treatment, it went into remission. It came back in 1980, and instead of telling Turner about it, she kept it a secret until she couldn’t. 

Promotional photo of Gloria Grahame | Photo: YouTube/Sussex Daily News Ver.2

One day, Turner got a call from a theater in Lancaster to say that Grahame had collapsed and was in the hospital. Grahame refused medical help and asked Turner if she could stay at his parents’ home in Liverpool.

Turner agreed and contacted her eldest children to tell them about the actress’s condition. They took her back to New York, and she was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital on October 5, 1981. A few hours later, she passed away at 57. Rest in peace.

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