Maggie Smith Was Blissfully Happy With Husband Of 23 Years But Felt Hopeless After He Passed

Aug 05, 2022 by apost team

Dame Maggie Smith is a legend in the acting world. Younger fans might know her from the "Harry Potter" franchise or her award-winning turn in "Downton Abbey," but Smith has acted since the early 1950s and she has an incredible body of work to show for it. Notable film roles of hers include "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," "California Suite," "Tea with Mussolini," "Gosford Park" and more.

A true acting legend, Smith has earned many awards during her seven-decade career and is one of the few who can boast about having won the Triple Crown of acting, which comprises an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award. In total, she's won two Academy Awards, four Primetime Emmys, one Tony, seven BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and five Screen Actors Guild Awards. She's also been honored by Queen Elizabeth II, who named her a Dame in 1990 in recognition of her contributions to the arts and drama.

Smith's acting talents are remarkable as she is able to float from one genre to another just as seamlessly as she can act both on the stage and the screen. Furthermore, she has a huge heart as she is involved in many charitable organizations.

The actress was also lucky to find true love. Although she was married to her first husband Robert Stephens for eight years, and together they had two children, it was her second husband Beverley Cross who was the love of her life. In fact, Smith and Cross had an early fling in their youth before they went their separate ways and started families of their own. Then, following both of their divorces 15 years later, Smith and Cross reconnected and it was as if no time had passed. Let's take a look at their incredible love story.

Maggie Smith (1967), (United Artists/Getty Images)

Smith was born on Dec. 28, 1934, in Essex, England. She studied acting at the Oxford Playhouse and found work when she was just a teenager. Since then, she's had an incredible career that's included over 60 films and 70 plays, all the while she's received plenty of awards and praise along the way. Although many people probably recognize Smith from movies, the actress still has a soft spot for the theater, where she got her start. She opened up to NPR in a 2016 interview about the pressure she feels when she acts in film and television. She said:

"In the theater, you know, you get another chance. You can do it the next night, the next performance. You can probably get it right then. But you don't have any real say in a film. And quite honestly, I probably drive everybody mad and go on and on and on and want to do another take and – because I never feel that it's right. So I always feel huge pressure."

A couple of years later in 2019, she told The Guardian:

"I am deeply grateful for the work in 'Potter' and indeed 'Downton,' but it wasn't what you'd call satisfying. I didn't really feel I was acting in those things."

A love for the theater is something that Smith shared with Cross, her second husband. A playwright, Cross found instant success with his first play "One More River," and did his best to make a star out of Smith with his second play, "Strip the Willow." Later on, he extended his repertoire and wrote screenplays for film and television as well.

Beverley Cross, Maggie Smith (circa 1994), (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

In fact, the theater is actually where Smith and Cross first met in the early 1950s, before they began an affair around 1960, which all happened before they went on to marry different partners and then eventually reunite 15 years later. The two first met during a student revue at Oxford in 1952. Although Cross was already married to his classmate Elizabeth Clunies-Ross, he was smitten with Smith, who starred in his second play, "Strip the Willow" in 1960, which made her a star. That was when they began an affair while Cross had begun to divorce his first wife. 

But after Smith joined the National Theater at the Old Vic, she fell in love with fellow actor Stephens, who would become her first husband. The New York Times wrote that Cross was filled with "murderous hatred" for Stephens. Cross got married a second time and he and Smith went on to have children with their respective spouses. Smith and Stephens had two sons together, actors Chris Larkin and Toby Stephens, while Cross had two daughters and a son from his first two marriages.

Her eldest son chose the surname Larkin over his given name of Stephens to remove family preference. Larkin was chosen based on his favorite poet Philip Larkin. Classically trained, Chris first had small TV roles but now he is arguably most well known for his role as Hermann Göring in the 2003 film "Hilter: The Rise of Evil." He has also starred alongside several of Hollywood's biggest names, like Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe

Maggie Smith (2005), (Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Meanwhile, Smith's younger son, Toby also followed in his family's tradition in the performing arts. He's most notably known for his role as the James Bond villain, Gustav Graves, in the franchise's 2003 film "Die Another Day." He reprised the role in the 2012 video game "007 Legends," to which he lent his voice and likeness.

Although Smith had a family and life completely apart from Cross, it seems the two were meant to be after all. Fate showed up when Smith and Stephens' tempestuous marriage ended in 1975, amid allegations of numerous affairs on Stephens' part. Cross then promptly divorced his second wife and he and Smith married that same year on June 23, 1975. Smith once said, as reported by The New York Times:

“I’m remarkably fortunate ... When you meet again someone you should have married in the first place, it's like a script. That kind of luck is too good to be true.”  

The couple was together for 23 years until Cross' death in 1998 at the age of 66. The loss of her second husband was devastating to Smith, who's since carried on his memory. During a 2013 interview with CBS, Smith was asked if she was lonely without Cross and she replied:

"I don't know. It seems a bit pointless… Going on one's own and not having someone to share it with." 

The actress also said she had no interest in finding someone else. Smith is fortunate enough to have her family by her side including two sons and five grandchildren, who she called "wonderful."    

Maggie Smith (2015), (John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)

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