Badass couples?
April 30, 2012 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Who are some real-life badass couples?

Inspired by the real people at the end of this TV Tropes list, I'm looking for more examples of real couples who did amazing things together--exploration, adventure, military exploits, extreme athletics, etc.

Not sure of the exact criteria, but something along the lines of facing significant physical risk or challenge together, and their couple-hood being an advantage, not just one tagging along after the other. (The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.) Probably not politicians or criminals. Even better if they have/had kids, and if they're still alive and/or in action.

Some I've already added to the list: Albert & Helene Schweitzer, climbers Dean Potter and Steph Davis (though now divorced), Daniel Boone & his family.
posted by gottabefunky to Human Relations (70 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan: unapologetic athiests, brilliant scientists, and one of the sweetest love stories I know of.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2012 [15 favorites]

Katia and Maurice Krafft, vulcanologists.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2012

Pierre and Marie Curie? One of Marie's Nobel Prizes was even jointly awarded to both of them. (I'm going to claim that Xtreme radioactive distillation to the max counts as "physical risk")
posted by -harlequin- at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Peter and Rosemary Grant (research scientists working in the outer reaches of the Galapagos).
posted by endless_forms at 11:54 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Charles and Ray Eames are my go-to badass couple for this sort of thing, I'm aware it's not strictly challenging but they were very good at what they did and were an absolute team about it. You might also enjoy this list of married astronauts.
posted by jessamyn at 11:55 AM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

Bradford and Barbara Washburn.

Martin and Osa Johnson.

Louis and Mary Leakey.

Marie and Pierre Curie, of course.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on April 30, 2012

Oh, how could I forget Dorothy Cheney and Richard Seyfarth?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:57 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

David and Micki Colfax
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2012

Some botany ones:

Wilmatte and Theodore Cockerell.

Mary and Joseph Clemens

Otto (O.E.) and Grace Jennings.

Stolen from here.
posted by bonehead at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not so much physical risk or challenge, but I've always thought Johnny Cash and June Carter were both pretty badass.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:00 PM on April 30, 2012 [12 favorites]

President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If you're wondering why, look at their job titles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on April 30, 2012 [19 favorites]

Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom.
posted by jtothes at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2012

George and Joy Adamson, who worked with lions in Kenya.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Barbara and Larry Savage, Miles from Nowhere. Two year round the world bicycle tour. And a very good read.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe (my favourites. He lived in New York. She lived in New Mexico. Each is a cornerstone of American art. And they had a love that truly lasted.)

George and Martha Washington
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
Bill and Melinda Gates
Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker
Jay-Z and Beyonce
Antony and Cleopatra
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
posted by nickrussell at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

extreme athletics

For a while there, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra were among the best at their respective sports. Friend of mine who worked with Hamm on off-the-field work said they worked out together.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Matthew Barney & Bjork.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:15 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, if we're doing the arts, let us not forget John Cage and Merce Cunningham. Or Susan Sontag and Annie Liebovitz. Or Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

Great ideas! Especially on the adventure/danger side.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:20 PM on April 30, 2012

Eric and Susan Hiscock; serial circumnavigators. They literally wrote the book (several books, in fact) on long distance sailboat voyaging.

On the arts side of things: Herb and Dorothy Vogel.
posted by gyusan at 12:25 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Robert Capa and Gerda Taro
posted by ig at 12:26 PM on April 30, 2012

Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson: independently, two of the most famous cultural anthropologists in history; while married, they also did significant research together in New Guinea and Bali.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:26 PM on April 30, 2012

Surely, Bonnie & Clyde
posted by iotic at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh whoops, didn't see the "no criminals"
posted by iotic at 12:33 PM on April 30, 2012

I always thought Julia & Paul Child were pretty badass overall, and especially for their involvement with the OSS.
posted by stellaluna at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

Dereck and Beverly Joubert
Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio

These are my two dream couples. :tear: Not a coincidence that they're both doing something related to conservation, activism, creativity, and travel.
posted by Sa Dec at 12:44 PM on April 30, 2012

Awesome collaborating couples: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw, Bryan Lee O'Malley and Hope Larson, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett. None of them are "badass" in the traditional going-into-danger sense, but... well, the Riverside and Bordertown universes are pretty badass, and the arc where Will Arnett's character marries Amy Poehler's in Arrested Development is pretty hilariouser when you find out they're married IRL. I think all of them have had their artistic careers improved by their spouse of choice, and all of them have collaborated together and done cool projects separately too.
posted by NoraReed at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

More artists than adventurers, but adventuresome nonetheless:
Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jaye Breyer?
Christo and Jean-Claude?
posted by modernserf at 12:50 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
posted by perhapses at 12:57 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Helen and Scott Nearing
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Churchlands (PDF)

Wiki: Paul ; Patricia
posted by jayder at 1:07 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Though now divorced, Curtis and Lisa Sliwa
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2012

Beatrice Shilling, who is famous for her WWII work on the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine, married George Naylor. Together they prepared and raced their own race cars.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:10 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Fucking Palmer.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ellen and Willam Craft "were slaves from Macon, Georgia in the United States who escaped to the North in December 1848 by traveling openly by train and steamboat, arriving in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. She posed as a white male planter and he as her personal servant. Their daring escape was widely publicized, making them among the most famous of fugitive slaves. Abolitionists featured them in public lectures to gain support in the struggle to end the institution. As the light-skinned mixed-race daughter of a mulatto slave and her white master, Ellen Craft used her appearance to pass as a white man, dressed in appropriate clothing."

They were also the subject of an episode of The Memory Palace podcast.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:29 PM on April 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

These two have really grown on me. It's pretty badass, to me, to be throwing buckets of money around intelligently without regard for whether a project is glamourous or not. They have a challenge out to reinvent toilets.

That is an extremely unsexy project. Except it has an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people. It's deeply meaningful and has a huge direct impact on people's lives and health.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

John and Abigail Adams.
Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Lunt and Fontanne.
posted by pentagoet at 1:34 PM on April 30, 2012

Also, Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, if only for the entertainment value....
posted by pentagoet at 1:35 PM on April 30, 2012

Isabella and Ferdinand political but seriously badass.
posted by adamvasco at 1:40 PM on April 30, 2012

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:41 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Two more artists: Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
posted by expialidocious at 1:45 PM on April 30, 2012

I will throw in Tracey and Jay Petervary, unknown to many, but well known to the niche ultra-endurance mountain bike scene - having set the tandem record for the Tour Divide - a 2700+ mile course from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, NM. Hay currently holds the all-time individual course record.

They've also separately won the Iditarod Trail Invitational - think the Iditarod dog race, but on snow bikes.

As far as athletics, adventure... yeah there you go.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:48 PM on April 30, 2012

Artic explorer/ Nobel Peace Prize Winner Fridtjof Nansen and his wife Opera Singer/ Skiing Pioneer Eva Nansen. In addition to their individual accomplishments, the pair popularized the sport of skiing and help convince Prince Charles of Denmark to become the king of a newly independent Norway (Fridtjof was influential in the peaceful dissolving the Union of Sweden and Norway). Their son Odd Nansen was an architect, a member of the Norwegian resistance during WWII, and one of the co-founders of UNICEF.
posted by chrisulonic at 2:01 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Michael and Amanda Lovato are both pro Ironman triathletes. Off the top of my head, I don't know of any others, but I would be surprised if they were the only ones.

Jill Fredston and her husband Doug Fesler have toured the Arctic Ocean extensively in open-water rowboats and sea kayaks.

There are several well-known sailing couples who are extremely adventurous. Lin and Larry Pardey literally wrote the book on storm survival; Beth and Evans Starzinger have cruised extensively at high lattitudes. Alvah Simon's wife Diana, on the other hand, is clearly a tough cookie but chose not to join Alvah when he intentionally stranded their vessel over the winter in the sea ice off northern Canada. Again, there are undoubtedly more examples in the world of sailing.

Really, I would say that this phenomenon is fairly common, as many couples meet or get to know one another via shared interests.
posted by richyoung at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2012

Tony Horwitz and Geraldine Brooks did some pretty badass political (read: war zone) reporting in their day, although I think they've settled down somewhat since Brooks has turned most of her attention to fiction.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd highly recommend seeing the documentary Herb and Dorothy.
posted by yeti at 2:36 PM on April 30, 2012

Obviously controversial, but Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?
posted by threeants at 3:10 PM on April 30, 2012

Photographs of scientists in love probably has some good suggestions.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:19 PM on April 30, 2012

Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne
posted by carmicha at 3:21 PM on April 30, 2012

I sort of consider Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as bad-ass. Their charity work and service is pretty commendable and bad-ass in my eyes.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Remember the cute old ladies that were the first gay couple to be married in California? Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were bad ass warriors for women's rights and gay rights for over five decades. A truly great American couple that improved the lives of millions.
posted by ao4047 at 3:47 PM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]

Canadian Olympians Jocelyn Lovell and Sylvia Burka?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 4:47 PM on April 30, 2012

Jean and John Comaroff, known to most anthropologists as "The Comaroffs."
posted by dizziest at 5:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lin and Larry Pardey: Bad-Ass Sailors
posted by humboldt32 at 5:28 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

oooh, Norma and Lester Cobb.
posted by Sassyfras at 5:48 PM on April 30, 2012

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline Du Pre, although he cheated on her toward the end.
posted by tully_monster at 6:11 PM on April 30, 2012

I can't believe no one has mentioned Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Paul Romero & Karen Lungren (& also Jordan Romero's dad + stepmom)
posted by ig at 8:54 PM on April 30, 2012

LBJ and Lady Bird?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:43 PM on April 30, 2012

NPR: A True-Life Love Story Between Spies:
Robert and Dayna Baer were both married — to other people — the day they met. Both were working undercover for the CIA in war-torn Sarajevo, hunting down the Hezbollah cell that had tried to assassinate the local CIA station chief. [snip] Dayna was an up-and-coming young agent when she went to Sarajevo. For Robert, it was more of a last hurrah. "I had a cloud over my head," he says. "I was sort of in hiding, even within the CIA, because I had attempted to assassinate Saddam Hussein."
posted by pracowity at 5:10 AM on May 1, 2012

Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:40 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:53 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about badass families? Paul Romero & Karen Lundgren are accomplished adventure racers/athletes. Though you've probably heard more about Paul's son (Karen's stepson)Jordan, the youngest climber to climb the seven summits. They climbed them all as a family. I'd say that's pretty "badass".
posted by zen_spider at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2012

Art Spiegelman (author of Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers) and Françoise Mouly (Art Director for The New Yorker)
posted by workerant at 3:28 PM on May 1, 2012

David Byrne and Cindy Sherman?
posted by mahorn at 8:57 PM on May 1, 2012

Mildred and Richard Loving (who had probably the most appropriate surnames ever for such an important landmark civil rights/marriage case)
posted by mostly vowels at 9:03 PM on May 2, 2012

Valerie Plame and Joseph C. Wilson
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:35 PM on May 2, 2012

David and Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick
posted by puddleglum at 1:57 PM on May 11, 2012

« Older stopping am phone calls   |   Pros/cons to having "housesitter"? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.