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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who announced on Sept. 20 that they are to divorce, spent more than a decade in the media spotlight. The pair went public after their 2005 movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith–shot while Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston. As depicted in the then exploding medium of glossy tabloids, the triangle had archetypal power; the dichotomy of the good-natured sitcom star Aniston and the “dark,” intriguing Jolie seemed almost too apt.

The couple made use of the public’s interest to promote their films and causes, framing themselves as the heirs to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton–globetrotting cosmopolitans whom scandal followed endlessly. Over time, the parents of six went from courting press attention to shunning it. Nonetheless, their parting signals the end of an era. As more and more celebrities strive to be “relatable,” Pitt and Jolie were the last movie stars famous for living purposefully outsize lives.


This appears in the October 03, 2016 issue of TIME.

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