Behind Every Great Men: 20 Forgotten Wives Behind World’s Famous & Infamous

11Chen Jieru

Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek’s wife Chen Jieru wrote a memoir that was suppressed by Chiang from publication until 1993. On their wedding night, Chiang infected Chen with syphilis, leaving her infertile. He later sent her to “study” in the US but never allowed her to return to China.


12Rachel Jackson

Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel Jackson was attacked as an adulteress and she died during the 1828 Presidential election after falling into a deep depression. At her funeral, Jackson said, “May God Almighty forgive her murderers. I never can.”


13Valeria Messalina

Valeria Messalina was a Roman Empress and the wife of Emperor Claudius, who once competed in a sex marathon with Rome’s foremost prostitute and came out on top. She was eventually executed when she married a senator while Claudius was out of town.


14Bertha Benz

German auto engineer Carl Benz's wife Bertha Benz was the world’s first motorist. In the summer of 1888, Bertha decided to “test drive” the second prototype of Motorwagen on a journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim, a distance of more than 50 miles in a single day, and left a note for Carl on the kitchen table.


15Jane Hawking

When Jane Hawking, Stephen Hawking’s first wife saw the movie script for The Theory of Everything, she deleted all the F-words, saying “Scientists in the 1960s and 70s didn't use the F-word and I’m pretty sure they don't know either.”


16Mileva Maric

Albert Einstein’s wife Mileva Maric had a daughter in 1902, one year before they were married. Existence of “Lieserl” was so well concealed that she was only discovered in 1986. It is believed that Einstein never met her and what happened to her is a mystery.


17Betty Shabazz

Wife of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, was killed by her own 12-year-old grandson in 1997. Wanting to return to his mother, who was in treatment as part of a plea agreement for plotting to kill Louis Farrakhan, he set his grandmother’s apartment on fire. She died weeks later of her injuries.


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18Nancy Simon

Woody Harrelson’s first marriage with Nancy Simon was intended to be a joke and they were going to divorce the next day. The storefront marriage/divorce parlor was closed the next day so they stayed married for 10 months.


19Magda Goebbels

Magda Goebbels, the wife of Hitler’s propaganda minister (Joseph Goebbels), had six children whose names all started with “H” to honor Hitler. When the Red Army entered Berlin, she ordered them all to be knocked out with morphine and then poisoned with cyanide in the Fuhrerbunker.


20Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, died soon after giving birth to their daughter. His complete entry in his diary for that day was, “The light has gone out of my life.” Besides a privately published tribute, he never spoke of her again, including never speaking about her to the daughter she gave birth to.

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