After seven years of marriage, T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens are going their separate ways. A spokesman confirmed the news to the AP Tuesday and said the couple is parting amicably. Madeleine was the 84-year-old oil tycoon’s fourth wife.
Skip Hollandsworth’s September 2008 Texas Monthly cover story on T. Boone offered a peek into the couple’s marriage in happier times. Some tidbits from that story follow below.
While Hollandsworth was flying with the couple on their $57 million private jet, Madeleine likened meeting T. Boone in 2005 to meeting her John Wayne.The conversation continued:
“We’re having such a good time that we’ve been talking about starting a family,” Boone said, the look on his face completely serious.
“Yes, we’re working very hard to have one,” Madeleine added, giving me an equally serious look, her perfectly plucked eyebrows rising slightly. “We’re trying every night.”
I stared at them, unsure what to say, until they both started laughing.
“The way things have been going, who the hell knows?” Boone said. “Who the hell knows?”
And how did they meet? Through Dallas Morning News society columnist Alan Peppard (who was second to report on the breakup, eleven minutes after D Magazine ’s Tim Rogers, who later wrote that “I suspect, though cannot say with certainty, that [Peppard] already knew about the divorce and had not reported it because he’s more of a gentleman than I but was forced by my post to put up his own.”).
Here’s Hollandsworth’s account of the couple’s first encounter:
It was Peppard who, after meeting Madeleine at a luncheon in Kentucky, suggested to Boone that he take her out on a date. Boone, however, was just coming off another marriage—right after his divorce from Bea, he had wedded a Dallas woman whom Condé Nast Portfolio magazine would later describe as “a voluble divorcée”—and he wasn’t certain he wanted to jump into another relationship. “Besides,” he told me, “I had never dated a woman outside Texas or Oklahoma.” Born in Iraq, where her father, a native Englishman, worked in a minor position for an oil company, Madeleine spent her youth in English boarding schools, where she learned to speak in a distinctly non-Texan manner, pronouncing the word “either,” for instance, as “eye-ther.” Perhaps most disturbing to Boone was that she was a vegetarian. He had no idea what she was going to eat if he ever took her to Bob’s.
He flew her to the ranch anyway. When she walked through the front door, dressed to the nines, he turned to a friend standing beside him and said, “Uh-oh.” Within three months, they married at her California home, and he gave her a heart-shaped wedding ring that was the size of a small atomic bomb. “I knew Madeleine already had some big jewelry,” Boone said, “but I wasn’t going to be out-ringed.”
To his friends’ astonishment, he was genuinely head over heels. He went to Congress to testify for one of Madeleine’s favorite causes—the abolition of horse-slaughtering plants—and after Hurricane Katrina, he funded another one of her passions: the rescue of some eight hundred stranded dogs and cats from New Orleans, which he loaded onto a cargo plane and flew to new homes in Colorado and California. He even decided to give up his cherished 1997 blue BMW (which he called, predictably, “Ol’ Bluey”) and ended up with a top-of-the-line Mercedes because Madeleine thought he’d look good in one.
In turn, Madeleine treated him like royalty. For his eightieth birthday party earlier this year, she rented out the entire Dallas Country Club, covered the walls with photos of his ranch, and hired comedian Dennis Miller to be the party’s emcee. (Miller’s best line: “Boone is one of the few people who can watch Giant and think it’s a home movie.”) For entertainment, she flew in the blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, British soprano Sarah Brightman, American Idol star Katharine McPhee, and Belgian singer Lara Fabian, whom Madeleine described as “better than Streisand.” They performed their various hits and, for the finale, gathered onstage and sang “My Way” while they gazed fondly at Boone (well, all of them, that is, except Bocelli).
“Good Lord, that sounds over the top,” I said to Madeleine when she recounted the evening.
“Hey, it was a festival of love,” she gaily replied. “I wanted the best to sing to the best.”