Meet Jean-Claude Van Damme's Bodybuilder Wife Gladys Portugues Whom He Married Twice

Martial arts movie star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, shares an unusual love story with his wife of twenty years, Gladys Portugues.

Legendary actor Jean-Claude Van Damme has tied the knots five times in five unique ceremonies. Interestingly, two of those times were with the same woman, Gladys Portugues. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme at The Expendables 2 Premiere on August 13, 2012 | Source: Getty Images.

Jean-Claude Van Damme at The Expendables 2 Premiere on August 13, 2012 | Source: Getty Images.

WHO IS GLADYS PORTUGUES?

Gladys Portugues is an actress and a professional bodybuilder known for her appearances in "The Morning After," "It's Alive III: Island Of The Alive," and in the "Wil Shriner Show."

She was born on September 30, 1957, in New York, and adopted the nickname, The Tigress at an early age.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at Los Angeles premiere of "The Expendables 2" on August 15, 2012 | Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at Los Angeles premiere of "The Expendables 2" on August 15, 2012 | Photo: Getty Images

DREAMS TO BECOME MS. OLYMPIA

Being a bodybuilder, she participated in the Ms. Olympia contest at least twice, emerging among the top ten winners each time.

The actress's interest in bodybuilding was piqued when she was in college, after witnessing Rachel Mclish win the Ms. Olympia contest on TV. 

Since then, she aspired to one day achieve the title, which prompted her to venture into professional bodybuilding as well as weight lifting routines. 

Her bodybuilding career and Ms. Olympia appearances have earned her features on the front covers of several fitness magazines.

LIFE AS AN ACTRESS

Aside from exploring the fascinations of bodybuilding, the 62-year-old also ventured into acting and has starred in several outstanding documentaries, films and television shows where she played interesting roles.

In 1985, the star featured as herself in the Cinecom International Films production, "Pumping Iron II: The Women," and went on to be cast in the romance movie, "The Morning After," as a bodybuilder, marking her acting debut.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues are seen at LAX on January 31, 2015 | Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues are seen at LAX on January 31, 2015 | Photo: Getty Images

The mother of two also made an appearance in the Larco Productions Inc Film, "It's Alive III: Island Of The Alive," in 1987, and in 2011, she starred as herself in the first season of the British reality show, "Behind Closed Doors."

RELATIONSHIP WITH JEAN-CLAUDE

The mother of two has been married to the martial artist, Van Damme, for about two decades. Although the relationship has experienced a great deal of friction in the past, the couple emerged better for it, and has continued to live happily together and hold on strong.

The unusual relationship can rightly be described as a tale of destined lovers, as they keep finding their ways back to each other after every scandal they are faced with, reemerging stronger than ever.

HOW THEY FIRST MET

The love pair encountered each other for the first time during a photoshoot in California, as reported by the JCVD world official website.

At the time, both icons were experiencing the morning of their rise to stardom, and it didn't take long for them to become each other's romantic interest.

THE ACTOR'S EYES DID THE MAGIC

During an interview, the couple once explained how their love story began. They were both at an event where they did a ballet performance. 

After a round of ballet dancing, a furious Gladys walked up to the action superstar and confronted him for not offering to dance with her. Taken aback by her directness, the legend fired back, saying he was waiting for her to ask first, and just like that, they hit it off.

However, it wasn't until the 59-year-old took his shirt off during the dance did the stunned Gladys realize she already fell for him.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at Knokke-Le on 26 June 1999 | Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at Knokke-Le on 26 June 1999 | Photo: Getty Images

In the interview, shared on youtube, the "Double Impact" star noted at that moment, his wife fell in love with his suspenders. "No… with your green eyes..," she insisted with a laugh.

STARTING A FAMILY TOGETHER

The bodybuilder got married to the Belgium action hero in 1987 shortly after they met. The duo welcomed their son, Kristopher Julien Van Varenberg, in the same year, and three years later, their daughter, Bianca Briggite Van Varenberg, was born.

Their marriage survived for about five years before the family hit a hurdle that brought an end to their picture-perfect lives.

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THEIR FIRST DIVORCE

The lovebirds had a fallout in 1992, resulting from a cheating scandal. The former kickboxing champion cheated on his wife with the then-upcoming actress, Darcey LaPier, whom he saw secretly. 

Gladys filed for a divorce once she found out about the affair, and thus, their first marriage ended. In 1994, the martial artist went on to marry LaPier, who bore him his youngest child, Nicholas.

Jean Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at the premiere of Robin Hood | Photo: Getty Images

Jean Claude Van Damme and Gladys Portugues at the premiere of Robin Hood | Photo: Getty Images

GETTING BACK TOGETHER AFTER A BREAK

The star's fourth marriage lasted only three years before their divorce in 1997. Following the divorce, the action icon found his way back into his soulmate's heart, and they continued to share moments together until finally, they tied the knot again in 1999.

FORGING AHEAD

In 2015, the actress filed for divorce again to bring an end to their marriage of 15 years. This time, her husband was determined not to let her go a second time. 

Having experienced at least four divorces before then, the veteran actor fought hard to save his marriage from going down that path again.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, Gladys Portugues and family at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 15, 2012 | Photo: Getty Images

Jean-Claude Van Damme, Gladys Portugues and family at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 15, 2012 | Photo: Getty Images

A week after the divorce petition was filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the 62-year-old withdrew the case, decided to resolve their disputes and move on.

In the rise of their 2015 divorce scandals, the father of three spoke with media outlets, explaining his wife's change of heart. While speaking to TMZ, he said:

"There's so much divorce around the world, and it is very bad for the children, that's the problem. Couples have to work through their stuff together no matter what. They have to grow."

The four-time divorcee also noted that divorce brought about hardship for not just the couple involved, but the children, and the country as well. Consequently, their love survived the test of time.

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