Paula Abdul and Emilio Estevez's Romance Began Over the Phone

Estevez reportedly first called Abdul to tell her he was a fan while she was still dating John Stamos.

TBT: Paula Abdul & Emilio Estevez
Photo: Ron Galella/Getty Images

Who: Grammy-winning singer, actress, dancer, and choreographer Paula Abdul, 58, and actor and writer-director Emilio Estevez, 58.

How They Met: Abdul and Estevez first made contact while the former was dating another early ‘90s heartthrob, John Stamos. According to People, Estevez called Abdul to express his admiration for the multi-hyphenate and her work, and continued to reach out once every couple of months. Their relationship was strictly landline-exclusive until Abdul came to N.Y.C. ahead of her world tour in 1991. She received a message at the hotel where she was staying (The Plaza, natch) — Estevez was staying there as well and suggested they meet for dinner. “After that he would send flowers or letters to every city I was in,” Abdul told the outlet. “We would have phone conversations and visit every few weekends. We thought everything was perfect.”

About six months later, Estevez proposed to Abdul when she visited him in Minneapolis (where he was filming The Mighty Ducks). “He got down on his knee and said, ‘I’ve been in love with you for a long time. I don’t want to live my life without you,’” Abdul said. “I just melted.”

In April of 1992, the pair wed in a private ceremony at a Santa Monica courthouse.

Paula Abdul and Emilio Estevez
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Why We Loved Them: There is very possibly nothing more gloriously early ‘90s than this relationship. “Paula Abdul weds Emilio Estevez after meeting for dinner at The Plaza Hotel” is pretty much 1992-generated Mad Libs.

When They Peaked: It’s easy to coordinate with a significant other (“I’m wearing black — oh, you’re wearing black too?”), it’s much more difficult to aggressively clash with them. Abdul and Estevez clashed so hard on the red carpet that it became performance art. Who wears jeans and a flannel (TO. A. PREMIERE.) when their partner is in a full-ass pinstriped two-piece with a color-coded accessory scheme?? Either it was intentional or neither of them gave a f—, and in the age of the oh-so subtle paparazzi op coordination, both of those possibilities are inspiring.

Paula Abdul and Emilio Estevez
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The Breakup: In 1994, almost exactly two years after Abdul and Estevez wed, the “Straight Up” singer filed for divorce. “It’s with tremendous reluctance and great sadness that I’ve taken this action,” Abdul said in a statement. “I have great affection and both personal and professional respect for Emilio. I know that we’ll continue to be supportive of each other.”

Estevez released a statement as well: “I have nothing but admiration, love and respect for Paula. I’m sorry we weren’t able to come to a different conclusion.”

At the time, People reported that the separation may have had something to with rumors about Estevez having extra-marital affairs, which Abdul had allegedly believed. The following year, People published a story with quotes from Abdul claiming that the split was actually because Estevez, a father of two, didn’t want to have more children. “It was very hard for him to admit that he couldn’t handle having kids again,” Abdul said. “It was heartbreaking for us both.”

In 2006, Estevez commented on his ex’s gig as an American Idol judge, telling GQ that he did not watch the show and that it was “part of the machine that I object to” (said machine being one that favors popularity over talent). “Bush said we're bingeing on oil. I think we're bingeing on gossip. It's gotten so far away from the work. Now people are just famous for being famous,” said Martin Sheen’s eldest son.

Where They Are Now: Abdul wed Brad Beckerman in 1996; they divorced less than two years later.

Estevez has kept a low-profile in recent years, perhaps reluctant to be a cog in the dreaded fame “machine.”

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