Marion Ross, the beloved actress from "Happy Days," might have had a successful career, but her marriage slowly fell apart. Read her story and discover her husband's unexpected reaction to the news of her pregnancy.
Ross had a marriage that lasted close to two decades, but she slowly started falling out of love with her husband after one shocking incident. The actress thought Freeman Meskimen was a helpful and understanding man, but she was wrong.
The blissful first years of their marriage were not a good indication of what was to come. Meskimen turned into an unmotivated and moody drinker that left Ross to take care of their household.
Actress Marion Ross at the 6th Annual Television Awards on December 1, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
ROSS' HUSBAND DIDN'T PULL HIS WEIGHT
Ross was the breadwinner, and despite their unbalanced union, she managed to make the best of a bad situation because she preferred being the dominant spouse.
Ross didn't want a controlling partner, and Meskimen was more than satisfied to leave his wife in charge of their affairs. However, there were many times that Ross wished her husband, nicknamed Effie, would be different.
"I always felt that I was the one who had to take the lead in everything that happened in our marriage and our lives."
Marion Ross attends the American Comedy Awards, at the Shrine Exposition Center, Los Angeles, California in 2000. | Source: Getty Images
ROSS PITIED HER SPOUSE
The actress didn't care about her spouse's path, but she wanted him to do something that made him feel accomplished. However, it was not Meskimen's overwhelming lack of motivation that led to the end of their marriage.
Ross gave her husband "a pass," and instead of resenting him, she pitied him. Meskimen also dabbled in acting, landing roles in "Sky Commando" (1953), "The George Sanders Mystery Theater" (1957), and "Battle of Rogue River" (1954).
However, he never reached the success he dreamed of and even told Ross he wanted to give up. While Ross dealt with Meskimen's lousy attitude and actions for many years, she grew increasingly disappointed.
Marion Ross and Freeman Morse at the Red Cross blitz drive held in Movie City circa 1957. | Source: Getty Images
ROSS HAD A MARVELOUS MOMENT WITH HER CO-STAR
A telling sign of the deteriorating relationship between Ross and Meskimen was the actress' decision to confide in someone other than her husband when she had life-changing news. While filming in 1959, Ross missed two periods and knew she might be pregnant.
She kept the possibility to herself, but when her role as a nurse in "Operation Petticoat" required underwater scenes, she hesitated and shyly told co-star Cary Grant, "I don't think I should go down in this sub."
Actor Cary Grant, circa 1955. | Source: Getty Images
Grant was confused by her hesitation because he knew Ross to be an adventurous spirit who was always up for a challenge. She shared the big news with him and told the movie star about her potential pregnancy.
Grant was the first person she shared the announcement with, even before revealing it to her husband. The two shared the incredible moment, and Grant promised Ross that her secret was safe with him.
Actor Cary Grant, circa 1955. | Source: Getty Images
CARY GRANT'S EMOTIONAL REACTION TO THE NEWS
Grant sat next to Ross and put his arm around her lovingly. He sweetly said: "You're pregnant!" When she looked into his eyes, she saw something unexpected. Ross shared: "When I looked at him, he had tears in his eyes."
"I recall my eyes filling with tears, too, as one of the most handsome and famous movie stars in the world sat holding me and telling me how wonderful it was that I was going to have a baby," Ross continued.
ROSS' HUSBAND'S REACTION WAS THE OPPOSITE OF HER CO-STAR'S
When Ross' doctor confirmed her pregnancy, she was ecstatic and shared the significant life milestone with her husband. He reacted significantly differently to Grant, and the response shocked her.
Ross explained that her spouse was devastated and outraged. She shared:
"'What have you done?' He screamed at me in a rage that was unlike any he had ever displayed before. I just kept saying 'It's okay. It's okay. Calm down. Don't worry. I'll take care of the baby.'"
Ross realized her husband's fury and unexpected reaction to the pregnancy news led to her falling out of love with him. She expressed: "If he was devastated by the news that I was pregnant, I was equally devastated by his reaction."
Actress Marion Ross during an episode of "Happy Days" on January 15, 1980. | Source: Getty Images
ROSS WAS POOR AFTER THE DIVORCE, BUT SHE FOUND LOVE AGAIN
Ross and Meskimen's marriage eventually fell apart after 18 years, and when the actress was 40, she got divorced. The end of her union left her poor, unemployed, and forced to care for two kids by herself, but she managed.
"I rented out one of the bedrooms in my house to pick up some money. I'd think, 'I made $35 today.' It was hard."
Marion Ross and her son Jim attend a Los Angeles movie premiere at American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre on November 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
ROSS AND HER COMPANION LIVED A WONDERFUL LIFE
Despite ending a relationship late in life and facing extreme challenges, Ross was thrilled to find love again. She thanks therapy sessions for enabling her to move on from the heartache. The actress had a romantic and rewarding relationship with Paul Michael, whom she met by chance in 1988. Speaking about meeting Ross, Michael said:
"So she walked in the room, and she looked like a dream, you know? So I spread my arms like that, and she came right to me. We hugged each other. Nobody introduced us or anything. It was just like that."
The pair also appeared together in DiPietro's "Over the River and Through the Woods" and "The Last Romance." They were incredibly in love and often acted like besotted young lovers.
Marion Ross and Paul Michael at the Seventh Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards on February 21, 1993 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
Ross, who turned 93 years old in 2021, lived a happy life, and her companion, Michael, summarized it in a few words when he said: "These are the happiest days of my life with Marion. We've had such a wonderful, wonderful ride."