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- May 27, 1985
- Vol. 23
- No. 21
Who's the Boss Now?
Bruce Bids Bye-Bye to His Bachelor Days as He Weds Julianne Phillips In a Secret Wedding Ceremony
But a time comes when two people
should think of these things
Having a home and a family
Facing up to their responsibilities
They say in the end true love
But in the end love can't be no
To say I'll make your dreams come
true would be wrong
But maybe, darlin', I could help
I WANNA MARRY YOU ©1980 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Last week Bruce Springsteen helped Julianne Phillips' dreams along. Six months after they met, and less than a week after the world learned of their engagement, the rocker who was born to run stopped running. Instead, shortly after midnight on May 13, Springsteen, 35, walked Phillips, 25, down the aisle of an Oregon church.
The church—Our Lady of the Lake, in Lake Oswego, a wealthy suburb of Portland—is about as far from Bruce's hangouts, the seedy rock clubs of As-bury Park, N.J., as you can get. But Springsteen's musician friends, including saxophonist Clarence demons and guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt (who wore his trademark bandana, albeit a "formal" black one) seemed totally at home in the red-brick building where Julianne's mother plays the organ every Sunday. First Springsteen, wearing a traditional tux, approached the altar with his parents, Douglas and Adele. Then Ann and William Phillips followed with Julianne, who was wearing an off-white, antique lace dress, ankle-high boots and a waist-length veil. The bride and groom, both raised as Catholics, held hands for much of the ceremony; later they put their arms around each other. Finally they exchanged rings. When the wedding was over, at 12:40 a.m., the crowd of 55 or so friends and relatives burst into applause.
The clapping was as much for Ann and Bill Phillips as for the bride and groom. The parents of six children (Julianne is the youngest) had just done the impossible: marrying off their daughter to Bruce Springsteen two blocks from their home without a single reporter or crazed groupie interrupting the proceedings. Hell-bent on privacy, other rock stars have married on boats (Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley) or in all-but-inaccessible places (Keith Richards and Patti Hansen wed at the tip of Baja California in Mexico). But it was Julianne's dream to get married at Our Lady of the Lake. Mom obliged, relying on friends ("I was confident they would keep the secret") and instincts. "We were just a little bit cagey," she admits with a smile.
It was on May 5 that Julianne called her mother to say she and Bruce planned to marry—and soon. Mrs. Phillips contacted Father Paul Peri, who agreed to perform the ceremony on the morning of May 15. Later that day the guests would repair to the Phillipses' backyard for the reception. Says Ann, 60, whose elder daughter, Mary, had been married in similar fashion 12 years ago, "We wanted Julianne and Bruce to have the same lovely occasion."
But Mary's marriage wasn't the biggest thing to hit Oregon since Lewis and Clark. Julianne's was. By May 9 word had spread of her impending nuptials to the man long considered rock's most eligible bachelor. Claimed the Asbury Park Press, "You could almost hear the sound of hearts breaking all along the Jersey Shore."
Some fans drove to Lake Oswego, hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple and exchange information about the time and place of the wedding. Local radio station KKRZ set up a "Springsteen rumor hotline" to give fans up-to-the-minute information, of which there was precious little. The Phillipses, whose phone number is listed, received phone calls from dozens of reporters and eventually put an answering machine on the line. One evening Bill Phillips, a good-natured insurance broker, brought pizza and wine to the journalists camped in his driveway.
Bruce and Julianne tried to ignore the growing commotion. By sneaking out through a neighbor's backyard, they were able to come and go as they pleased, and one evening they even showed up at a local pool hall and listened to their favorite artist on the jukebox. Incredibly, no one recognized Springsteen. But, Ann remembers, as the crowds grew, the word from Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, was "there could be trouble." Bruce was worried that a simple two-ring ceremony could turn into a three-ring circus.
So the Friday before the wedding, a plan was hatched. Bruce and Julianne would wed as soon as their marriage license permitted—immediately after midnight on Monday, May 13. Guests would be contacted from the Phillipses' home by phone and told to arrive three days earlier than planned. They would be directed to the homes of family friends, then driven to the church in unmarked vehicles after the press contingent hung it up for the evening.
Some folks might have balked at coming on such short notice. But, says Ann, "we didn't have a complaint. Everyone just got busy." Julianne borrowed the wedding gown of childhood friend Ann Stucky Bickford, who was a bridal attendant along with Julianne's sister, Mary, and Bruce's younger sister, Pam. On the night of the wedding, the family got out of the house undetected. "We were having fun," says Bill Phillips, 65. "It was like a cat-and-mouse game." With the help of police escorts, they rendezvoused at the local high school, then switched cars. Bruce, still in jeans and reportedly "very nervous," drove to the ceremony with best men Van Zandt, Clemons and Landau. The church was kept completely dark until the moment the wedding party arrived. By the time the marriage was announced to the press—at 2 a.m., by Julianne's brother, Bill Jr., who called KKRZ with the news—the newlyweds had left the church. They didn't go far, as they attended a belated "reception" at the Lake Oswego Country Club Tuesday night. Says a triumphant Ann: "We were happy for the kids, that they were able to have a little privacy. It was the wedding they really wanted."
Julianne has usually gotten what she wanted. Born in Chicago, Julianne was 7 when the family moved to Lake Oswego, where she led what seemed like a charmed life. One friend says the only time he ever saw her visibly upset was when she had to get braces. In high school Julianne was a cheerleader who tooled around town in her father's MG. "She was always popular," remembers schoolmate Bob Owen. "She was friendly with a group of desirable girls that everyone wanted to go out with." Julianne also modeled clothes at a department store after school. Her measurements: 34-22-34.
After high school, Phillips went to Brooks College in Long Beach, Calif., a two-year school. In 1982 she moved to New York, where she worked as an Elite model. Anxious to try acting, she returned to L.A. in late 1983 and quickly landed roles in two TV movies: Summer Fantasy, in which she ran around the beach in a bikini, and His Mistress, starring Robert Urich.
Julianne met Springsteen last October, when her manager arranged a backstage meeting at the L.A. Sports Arena, where Bruce was playing. There was, according to eyewitnesses, an immediate attraction. Springsteen has always been "notoriously heterosexual," in the words of one biographer. A two-year liaison with a New Jersey college student ended last year. That relationsip ran aground when Born in the U.S.A. became Bruce's most successful album, thrusting him more than ever into the limelight. Julianne, who had reportedly dated Peter Barton, an actor on the short-lived NBC series The Powers of Matthew Star, was better equipped to deal with Springsteen's fame.
Over the winter Bruce brought Julianne to the New Jersey health club that he frequents. Then she introduced him to her gym, Matrix One, in Beverly Hills, where he began turning up for three-times-a-week, 40-minute workouts (at $50 per). Julianne, who was sharing an L.A. apartment with two actress friends, returned home to Portland for Christmas. At a high school reunion party she told her former classmates about Springsteen. Says Bob Owen: "I was talking to her like I did in high school, but it was weird, because everyone knew she was going out with Bruce Springsteen. That's just really weird."
About three months ago Julianne introduced Bruce to her parents, who were staying in Palm Springs. The couple drove over from L.A. to spend the weekend with the family. The Phillipses were surprised when Bruce arrived wearing a suit and tie. According to Betty Ann Fulop, who bowls with Ann Phillips every Thursday morning, "They were delighted. Bruce was very quiet and subdued, didn't smoke or drink. They were also pleased to hear that Bruce gives money to charities in every city he performs in."
In February, Springsteen and Phillips attended the Grammys together, parked prominently in the front row. Then Julianne accompanied Bruce to Japan on the most recent leg of his Born in the U.S.A. tour. On the way home last month, they stopped off in Hawaii, where, one acquaintance says, "it was like they were joined at the hip." It was there, friends speculate, that Bruce popped the question. In two weeks the couple will leave for Dublin—and the European leg of Springsteen's monumental U.S.A. tour. In July they will return home—most likely to Bruce's Rumson, N.J. mansion.
Springsteen always maintained he was not the settling-down type, even in his most recent interviews. "I don't like feelin' too rooted for some reason," he said last December. But his song lyrics—perhaps a less guarded look into his soul—have been increasingly about commitment. And, as Springsteen has also said, "Trust the art—not the artist."
- Todd Gold,
- Dirk Mathison.
March 28, 2015
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