Today, Florence Foster Jenkins is released into American theaters. The film stars Meryl Streep as the titular character, a real New York heiress. Early reviews were positive, and unsurprisingly were centered around the performance of Streep. Streep is the very definition of an acting legend, nominated for an incredible 19 Academy Award nominations since 1979. Should Florence Foster Jenkins garner even more praise, she could even be looking at a 20th come next year.
It wasn’t too far before that first Oscar nomination that Streep met the man she is still married to today, Don Gummer. Gummer is also an artist, though not in the same field as his wife. The circumstances through which they met may not have been ideal, but their love has endured. During Streep’s Oscar acceptance speech in 2012, the first person she thanked was Gummer, saying “First, I’m gonna thank Don, because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives you’ve given me.”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. He and Streep Were Married in 1978, 6 Months After the Death of John Cazale
Before Gummer, Meryl Streep was in a committed, serious relationship with John Cazale. Cazale was a beloved and respected actor with a short but legendary filmography. Cazale died in 1978, after a battle with lung cancer. While dealing with his cancer, he was still filming The Deer Hunter, a film Streep also had a major role in. She stayed with him every step of the way, taking him to treatments and helping him until he passed. Al Pacino said of her devotion, “When I saw that girl there with him like that I thought, ‘There’s nothing like that.’”
The tragedy of Cazale’s untimely death struck a chord with many, Streep in particular. Despite that, Don Gummer entered the picture quickly, a friend of Streep’s brother. Gummer and Streep’s brother came to help pack up the apartment Streep and Cazale had shared. A relationship started after she moved into his apartment, and progressed incredibly quickly – just 6 months after Cazale had passed, Streep and Gummer were married.
It would seem rushed, but the pair is still together all these years later. Shortly after the marriage, she explained her thoughts on the matter and whether she could be over Cazale by saying, “I haven’t got over John’s death, but I’ve got to go on living and Don has showed me how to do that.”
2. He is a Sculptor and Has Had Dozens of Public Exhibitions
Don Gummer, in addition to being the husband of arguably the most acclaimed actress of our time, is a successful professional sculptor. Getting both his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and his Master’s of Fine Arts at Yale University in the early 70s, his resume is quite impressive. With dozens of exhibitions, collections, and commissions to his name, he has seen an incredible amount of success in the world of art.
One of his more recent exhibitions was referred to as Gummer on Broadway. Nine of Gummer’s sculptures were placed along Broadway in New York City between Columbus Circle and 157th St. Gummer said each sculpture was based on a specific type of poem.
I first became interested in haiku poems because of the simplicity of their structure… Three lines stacked together containing 17 syllables. Five in the first line, seven in the middle, and five in the third line. I thought of substituting shapes for the syllables and instead of writing a poem with three sentences and 17 syllables, I made a sculpture with three vertical sections and 17 shapes, five in the bottom section, seven in the middle, and five in the top section. The three sections are separated by horizontal, linear flat rectangles, my version of lined paper.
3. Gummer and Streep Have Four Children Together
Together, Gummer and Streep are the parents of four children, born between 1979 and 1991. Their eldest son, Henry Wolfe Gummer, is a musician who has released music both as a solo act (going just by Henry Wolfe) and in the band Bravo Silva. Their eldest daughter is Mamie Gummer, an actress. Her resume includes starring in television shows like Off the Map and Emily Owens M.D., as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife.
Meryl and Mamie aren’t the only actresses in the family – Grace Gummer, the third child, has also made a nice living with her acting work. In addition to being in TV shows like Mr. Robot, Extant, and The Newsroom, she appeared on Broadway in 2011 in the show Arcadia. Their youngest daughter is Louisa Gummer, a model with IMG.
4. He Has Talked About Getting Used to Streep’s Incredible Accomplishments
Gummer and Streep have had quite a charmed life, one that has involved a lot of going to award ceremonies. Gummer was asked by the Daily News about whether or not he gets tired of simply being there while his wife receives awards and accolades. Gummer replied that that wasn’t the case at all: “Not sick, I just don’t get excited… She just always hates asking people or having people asked to come support her. She gets tired of it… after a while what can they say.”
He was also asked if he is ever in awe of being married to the most acclaimed actress of a generation. His response? “No, never.” The Hollywood life may be glamorous, but their home life is far more boring, less arguing about the Oscars and more arguing about, as he says, “Wash the dishes or put them in the dishwasher.”
5. Streep Has Described Them As a “Perfect Odd Couple”
Meryl Streep has also been asked about the pair’s relationship. She referred to herself and her husband as “the perfect odd couple,” and has said she was very proud of their family. She said their differences in personality have allowed them to succeed as a couple for as long as they have, stating that “Don is a man of few words – I’m the one who keeps up a constant stream of chatter in the house. He listens very patiently and then goes back to his work. He also loves me as I am, eager and overactive, even at this age.”