To an entire generation of die-hard Grey’s Anatomy fans, Patrick Dempsey will forever be known as “McDreamy”, the heartthrob neurosurgeon who swept Meredith Grey off her feet for 11 seasons.
However, what many Dempsey devotees may not realise is that the 56-year-old actor has had a colourful and surprising love life outside the walls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
When be was 18, the then-fledgling actor embarked on a romance with his manager and acting coach, Rochelle “Rocky” Parker.
Parker was 48 and a widowed mother-of-three when she married 21-year-old Dempsey in 1987 – making it a 27-year age gap between the couple.
The pair, who met on the set of the theatre production Brighton Beach Memoirs, raised eyebrows for a number of reasons.
In the stage show, an 18-year-old Dempsey played Parker’s teenage nephew and the pair forged a close bond during the tour.
But it wasn’t their large age difference that shocked fans – it was the fact Parker was also the mother of Dempsey’s best friend, Corey Parker.
The press had a field day with reports Dempsey was married to his best friend’s mum.
However, Dempsey maintained he only became best friends with Corey once he was already romantically involved with Parker.
Dempsey and Parker were married for seven years, their relationship marred with accusations of abuse, ending in a messy divorce.
Parker accused the actor of assaulting her on the set of the 1987 film Can’t Buy Me Love and she made these claims in her divorce filing.
“While we were on the set of his (1987) 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!’ I now suffer from arthritis in my hand from where Respondent injured me,” legal documents from 1994 reportedly said, The Sun reported in 2016.
“The physical abuse included Respondent breaking my finger when he rushed me to a van and closed the door on my finger.”
She also claimed their marriage fell apart because Dempsey left her for another woman.
Parker later retracted these allegations of domestic violence in 2006.
She shared a statement saying that, during the divorce proceedings, she had been advised to make those accusations.
“In the heat of a divorce, sometimes people say things they normally wouldn’t. But the statements of physical and mental abuse, as well as alcoholism and drug use, are false,” she said in 2006.
Dempsey has never publicly commented on his ex-wife’s allegations.
Following a lengthy legal battle, Dempsey and Parker officially divorced in April, 1994. The actress was diagnosed with throat cancer and died in 2014 at the age of 74.
The Made of Honour star, meanwhile, managed to find love again in his second wife Jillian Fink, who he married in 1999.
Dempsey and Fink have two children, daughter Talula, 20, and 15-year-old twins Darby and Sullivan.
Much like his ill-fated romance with Parker, Dempsey and Fink filed for divorce in 2015. After a brief separation, the couple reunited for good in 2016.
Speaking to People about his relationship with Fink, Dempsey said he fought hard for their marriage.
“Our marriage was not something I was prepared to let go of,” Dempsey said in 2016. “I didn’t feel like we had done all the work. And we both wanted to do that work. That’s where it started.”
He also admitted the prospect of another marriage breakdown was “scary” to comprehend.
“It’s always destabilizing when you’re potentially breaking up a family or you have a big section of your life that’s ending,” he added.
Dempsey, who left Grey’s Anatomy in 2015, has appeared in a number of blockbuster films and smaller projects.
He will reprise his role of Robert Philip in the 2022 sequel to Enchanted and will play Italian racing driver Pierro Taruffi in the upcoming film Ferrari.
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