- Patrick, 57, has been married to a hairstylist named Jillian, 57, for 24 years
- They almost split in 2015, after his busy schedule left him with little free time
- But they ultimately got back together after he quit Grey’s Anatomy
- READ MORE: Patrick Dempsey is named as People’s 2023 Sexiest Man Alive
Thanks to his bright smile, twinkling eyes, and charming personality, Patrick Dempsey has been one of Hollywood’s top heartthrobs for more than three decades. And being the celebrity crush of millions has lead to a fierce fascination into his love life.
Patrick, 57, who was recently announced as People’s 2023 Sexiest Man Alive, has been married to a hairstylist named Jillian, 57, for 24 years – defying the A-list curse that has seen so many celebrity couples crumble under the pressures of immense fame and the temptations that can come with vast stardom.
And while the Grey’s Anatomy star and his wife, who share three kids together, have stood the test of time, they almost fell victim to the Hollywood hex in 2015, when they announced that they were divorcing.
At the time, Patrick was spending almost all of his waking hours focused on his booming career, which unfortunately left very little time for his personal life.
With his marriage on the brink of collapsing, Patrick decided to take a step back from the spotlight and leave the wildly popular medical drama.
And while the move left millions disappointed that their favorite character would no longer be in the show, it also resulted in many admiring Patrick’s dedication to his family – and ultimately saved his relationship with Jillian.
Since then, Patrick has been very open about how the brief separation taught him to ‘prioritize’ spending ‘quality time’ with his wife and three kids over his work.
As the 57-year-old star gets named People’s Sexiest Man Alive, FEMAIL went ahead and broke down his love life from start to finish – including his strong bond with Jillian and how they salvaged their relationship after nearly splitting over his busy schedule, as well as his very controversial first marriage.
Before he and Jillian walked down the aisle in 1999, Patrick actually went through an extremely messy divorce.
He tied the knot with his 48-year-old manager when he was only 21 years old, and when they split seven years later, his ex accused him of physical abuse, only to later retract her accusations and admit that they were all ‘false.’
Here’s a look back at Patrick’s rocky road to finding love with his wife Jillian.
Controversial first marriage: Patrick wed his 48-year-old manager when he was 21 and cementing himself as a heartthrob – she accused him of abuse during their divorce, but then retracted her claims
Patrick met his first wife, Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Parker, when he was only 18 years old and trying to break into the industry.
At the time, he had landed the lead role in the touring company of Neil Simon’s autobiographical play Brighton Beach Memoirs, while Rocky, a 44-year-old actress and former model, was hire to play his aunt.
The two formed a strong bond during their time in the show together, and after it came to an end, Patrick decided to hire her to be his manager.
Soon after that, Patrick was cast in his first movie, the 1987 World War II comedy film In The Mood – and almost immediately after it premiered, he was launched into mega stardom, thanks to his impressive acting abilities, handsome looks, bright smile, and charming personality.
Patrick became a sensation practically over night, but as Patrick was cementing himself as Hollywood’s heartthrob, he was simultaneously falling in love with his manager, Rocky – and when the news that he was taken came out, it shattered the hearts of millions of women around the globe.
Patrick and Rocky’s relationship was certainly controversial – especially because so many had become so invested into the rising star’s personal life.
Their immense age gap and her job as his manager left some people raising their eyebrows over their romance, but despite the scrutiny, Patrick and Rocky tied the knot in August 1987, when he was only 21 and she was 48.
They were married for seven years before they went their separate ways in April 1994 – and the split was messy, to say the least.
The two became embroiled in a nasty, two-year divorce battle, and during the proceedings, Rocky accused Patrick of physically abusing her – something she later retracted.
In the court papers, Rocky claimed that Patrick once attacked her while they were on the set of his movie, Can’t Buy Me Love, which she alleged left her with arthritis.
‘While we were on the set of his movie Can’t Buy Me Love, he beat me up because he claimed he “wanted to see what it was like to beat up a woman,”‘ she said.
‘The physical abuse included [Patrick] breaking my finger when he rushed me to a van and closed the door on my finger. I now suffer from arthritis in my hand from where [Patrick] injured me.’
She also alleged that she had to see a psychiatrist during her marriage to Patrick, and that she was forced to quit her career to focus on helping the actor ‘get off drugs and alcohol.’
‘During the marriage I began seeing a psychiatrist on a regular basis,’ she continued. ‘I was placed on anti-depressants and other prescription medications to help me function.’
But years later, in 2006, when the court documents were made public for the first time, Rocky called her accusations against Patrick ‘false.’
‘In the heat of a divorce, sometimes people say things they normally wouldn’t,’ she said in a statement at the time.
‘But the statements of physical and mental abuse, as well as alcoholism and drug use, are false.’
Patrick has spoken about the romance on a few occasions, and he has branded it as ‘ridiculous’ and a ‘nightmare.’
‘It was ridiculous,’ he once said. ‘A Freudian nightmare that’s publicly known. Let’s say I was a little bit lost. I needed discipline, but I sort of outgrew that.’
He also told ABC of his first marriage. ‘I think I needed a mother. There were a lot of negative things that I’m still undoing from it. She had a son one year older than me.’
Acclaimed director and longtime friend of Patrick’s Harry Winer even once admitted, ‘The relationship was destructive, to himself and his career. He was manipulated.’
Rocky passed away of throat and lung cancer in 2014, at age 74.
Finding his soulmate: Patrick met his second wife while she was working as a hairstylist and he paid a visit to her salon, and they tied the knot in 1999
Soon after his divorce, Patrick met Jillian while she was working as a hairstylist and he paid a visit to her salon.
At the time, he was already one of the biggest stars on the globe, and Jillian admitted to People that she was completely star struck when he came strolling in to get a haircut.
After that, Jillian became Patrick’s go-to hairstylist, but it wasn’t until three years later that they started dating.
‘She was always flirting,’ Patrick told the publication, while Jillian insisted, ‘That’s not true.’
Eventually, Patrick decided to ask Jillian out on a date and she said yes. He took her to his home where he cooked her a delicious pasta dish – and it blew her away.
Within three months of their first date, they were living together, and within two years, they were walking down the aisle.
They became husband and wife in July of 1999 at his family’s home in Maine, and they went on to welcome their first child together, a daughter named Talula, in 2002, followed by twin boys, Darby and Sullivan, in 2007.
After becoming a dad, Patrick opened up about how his priorities changed to Life magazine.
‘Fatherhood is the most important thing. Everything else is a joke. Now, making money is about providing for my children,’ he said.
‘Being a father makes you look at yourself. You look at your marriage and go, “How do I improve this? How do I keep growing and create a stable environment for my children?”‘
Almost torn apart: As Patrick’s career flourished, his personal life crumbled and the couple announced they were splitting in 2015 – but after he quit Grey’s Anatomy he was able to save his marriage
But as Patrick’s career continued to flourish, his personal life began to crumble.
In 2005, Patrick was cast as Dr. Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd in the wildly popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy opposite Ellen Pompeo.
He starred in the show for 11 seasons, but the immense fame and busy filming schedule began to put a strain on his relationship.
He opened up about struggling to spend time with his wife while balancing his work to Good Housekeeping in 2011.
When asked what the hardest part of marriage was, he admitted, ‘When you’re not connecting.
‘Your partner is going out the door when you’re coming in, and you don’t have a chance to debrief on the day. That’s the worst.’
In 2015, after 16 years of marriage, the couple shocked the world when they announced that they were separating.
‘It is with careful consideration and mutual respect that we have decided to end our marriage,’ they said in a mutual statement at the time. ‘Our primary concern remains the wellbeing of our children.’
But Patrick wasn’t ready to ‘let go’ of Jillian. He then made the shocking decision to leave Grey’s Anatomy, took a major step out of the spotlight, and got to work on repairing his marriage.
‘Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of,’ he later told People. ‘I didn’t feel like we had done all the work. We both wanted to do that work. That’s where it started.’
Stronger than ever: Since then, they have been as happy as could be, and Patrick has credited therapy and spending quality time together with helping to repair their relationship
The two then started marriage counseling, which he said was a ‘very important’ step to salvaging their romance, and in 2016, they announced that they were no longer separating.
‘Everybody has their own path,’ he said at the time. ‘Jill and I decided it was time to work on our issues and improve.
‘We wanted to be role models for our kids like, OK, if you have differences, you can work them out.
‘You can only do one thing at a time and do it well. I [learned] to prioritize. Our union has to be the priority.
‘I wasn’t prepared to give up on her and she wasn’t either. We both wanted to fight for it.
‘You’ve got to keep at it. You’ve got to communicate, and stay open and not get lazy. And not give up. And lots of sex!’
Since then, Patrick and Jillian have been going strong, and they constantly gush about one another on social media and in interviews.
And while the star returned to acting soon after they got back together in 2016, he has been open about how he now always ensures that he is spending ‘quality time’ with his family.
When asked what made his relationship work in 2018, he said, ‘Getting quality time together.
‘With three children, everyone is running around trying to get them to sporting events or school activities, getting them prepped for college or all that – but couples have to figure to get date nights. That is what it is about.
‘We are growing together as a couple, individually, and as a family. The older you get, the more you realize how little time you have, and [how] you want to make the most of it.’
The couple is also very supportive of each other’s careers, and Jillian, who has gone on to found her own clean beauty line, is often by Patrick’s side at red carpet events.