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Maggie Smith & Beverley Cross Were Happily Married for 23 Years — Losing Him Made Her Life 'Pointless'

Joe Akins
Feb 19, 2022
03:00 P.M.
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Maggie Smith and Beverly Cross fought all odds to have their romance. However, after the screenwriter's death, Smith was heartbroken and found living pointless.

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British actress, Maggie Smith, is one Hollywood star who has kept her audience spellbound by her talents while staying tight-lipped about her personal affairs.

Smith's movie, film, and theatre performances sealed her place as one of Hollywood's biggest stars. However, she is most known to modern audiences as Professor Minerva McGonagall from the "Harry Potter" series, who is strict but fair. 

On "Downton Abbey," she plays Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. However, these are just the most recent of a lengthy line of characters that the powerful actress has brought to life.

Smith appeared in various movies during the 1990s, including the Whoopi Goldberg comedy "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit." In addition, the actress received widespread acclaim for her role in the period drama "Downton Abbey." The performance earned her three Emmy Awards in 2011, 2012, and 2016.

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Smith has two Academy Awards to her name. In 1969, she won the first award as an idealistic, unconventional schoolteacher in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." In 1978, she received the second award for best-supporting actress for her portrayal in Neil Simon's "California Suite."

Maggie Smith attends the EE British Academy Film Awards on February 14, 2016 | Photo: Getty Images

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Smith has had such a successful acting career, so much that the industry ran out of accolades for her. As a result, she was honored with lifetime achievement awards.

The most notable is her induction into the Order of the British Empire (DBE) as a "Dame" Commander in 1990. In 2014, she was also appointed a Companion of Honor (CH).

Away from the cameras, Smith was involved in one of the most significant romances of the century. The actress enjoyed a happy life with her fellow film star, Beverly Cross. Here's how they met.

Dame Maggie Smith attends the London Evening Standard British Film Awards on February 7, 2016 | Photo: Getty Images

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MEETING BEVERLY

Cross was a prolific writer, best known for his first play, "One More River," which premiered in 1959, and the rowdy musical comedy "Half a Sixpence," which he also wrote in 1959. However, he's remembered chiefly for his lengthy hunt for Smith.

The couple met in 1952 at a student revue in Oxford, where Cross was a student. The playwright was immediately stunned by Smith, who was 18 at the time. 

Cross was married to Elizabeth Clunies-Ross, an Oxford classmate, but he found it difficult to let go of Smith. The duo began an affair, and Cross divorced his wife to be with his heartthrob. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned.

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Smith met and fell in love with fellow actor Robert Stephens, whom she met at Laurence Olivier's new National Theater. The duo married, and Cross was filled with murderous loathing for Stephens. The disappointed playwright eventually married Gayden Collins, a model.

Smith's life with Stephens was a happy one for the first few years of their marriage. The couple welcomed two children, Chris Larkin and Toby. The actress's sons followed in her footsteps and pursued a career in the movie industry.

Life with Stephens soon became unbearable as the actor was unfaithful and battled alcohol. In addition, Smith's marriage to her first husband ended in 1975, making her a prime target for her former lover, Cross.

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MARRYING BEVERLY

After her 1975 divorce, Cross, who was married to model Collins, quickly filed for a divorce. He married Smith that same year and helped her raise her two sons. The couple never had kids together, but their years as a couple were their best.

Smith spent the next 23 years of her life married to the playwright. The actress refused to talk about her marriage to Stephens during their married years as she did not want to offend Cross.

Smith later confessed that she still loved Stephens for being the father of her children. However, she valued life with Cross. The 87-year-old counts herself lucky to have married the man of her dreams.

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Actress Dame Maggie Smith and her partner Beverley Cross, circa 1995 | Photo: Getty Images

LOSING CROSS

Cross died in 1998 at age 66. Before his death, the playwright was treated for a series of aneurysms. His death was not only heartbreaking for his fans, but it was life-shattering for his wife, Smith. Two daughters from his first marriage, a son from his second marriage, and two stepsons survived the screenwriter.

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Years after his death, Smith opened up about how she felt without her long-time lover. When asked how she coped with his demise, the mom of two said

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

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Smith said she turned her focus to her work to cope with the pain of his death. The "Harry Potter" star said, "They say it [the pain] goes away, but it doesn't. It just gets different. 'It's awful, but what do you do?"

Smith later added, "After the busy-ness, you are more alone, much more. A day that is absolutely crowded keeps your mind away from why you are alone, but when it stops, that is the deafening silence."

The actress has remained single since losing her second husband. When asked if she would consider love again, Smith replied, "I don't think I would find anybody who could come anywhere near Bev."

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LIFE AFTER CROSS

Smith continued to appear in movies after Cross's death. However, she also struggled with her health. The "Sister Act" actress was diagnosed with breast cancer, leaving her to battle for her life.

Smith said her treatments left her frightened to return to the theatre. However, the actress was later notified of her freedom from the disease after two years of receiving treatment.

Maggie Smith at a screening of "The Lady in The Van" during the BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 13, 2015 | Photo: Getty Images

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Speaking of how she got diagnosed, Smith said she felt a lump in her breast, and a visit to the doctor confirmed her fears. Following her diagnosis, the award-winning star filmed "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" while undergoing treatment.

Smith has remained a key figure in Hollywood but has reduced her public appearances in recent years. However, her legacy remains intact.

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