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Hugh Jackman's Deborra-Lee Furness marriage: from his romantic proposal to their shocking split

The couple just announced their separation about 27 years together

Hugh Jackman in a suit and his wife Deborah-Lee Furness in white at the premier of Australia in 2008
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyWeddings Editor
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Prior to their shocking separation announcement, Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness were arguably one Hollywood's most loved-up couples, who seemed to be going strong after 27 years of marriage.

The Greatest Showman actor, 54, often posted gushing tributes on social media to mark each year of marriage, causing many to question the secret to their happy relationship. While many couples date for years before getting engaged, Hugh threw out the rulebook and proposed after just four months over a romantic breakfast. In interviews, they would often say they knew immediately that they were meant to be together.

WATCH: Hugh Jackman dances with wife Deborra Lee-Furness at $21 million apartment in New York City

See inside their relationship, from Hugh's "embarrassing" crush to their non-traditional wedding.

How did Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee meet?

hugh jackman2© Getty
The couple met on Correlli

The actor met Deborra-Lee, now 67, on the set of her Australian TV series Correlli. While Hugh had recently left drama school, Deb, who is 13 years his senior, was already a "big star."

Hugh recalled to People: "I get picked up, and Deb is in the front seat of the car. I’ll never forget. She took off her seatbelt, and she turned around and put out her hand and took off her sunglasses and said, 'Hi, I’m Deborra-lee Furness, nice to meet you.' I remember thinking, 'I like this girl.'"

He said he developed an "unprofessional and embarrassing" crush, but Deb reciprocated his feelings. The actor was so confident in their connection that he told Today in 2018: "I knew two weeks into meeting Deb that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives."

How did Hugh Jackman propose to Deborra-Lee?

Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness in matching black outfits at the 2023 Met Gala© Getty
The couple got engaged over breakfast in Sydney

Just four months after they started dating, Hugh popped the question in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens. "My plan was to propose halfway through breakfast and I thought, 'Forget that! So I have to do it now! I need to do it now!'" he told Woman's Day.

"It had been raining, and finally the sun came out, and I didn't have a line! I was thinking: 'Come on, come on, come on, you've got to come up with something, this is a once-in-a-lifetime, you've got to come up with a line.'

"I said, 'Baby, look the sun's come out - it's almost perfect!' and she says: 'What do you mean? It is perfect!' And I said, 'Well… it will be if you marry me!' And I pulled out the ring."

When did Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee get married?

They exchanged vows on April  11, 1996 in Melbourne, and the bride wore an off-the-shoulder white satin jumpsuit with a train attached to the waist, finishing her look with a pearl choker necklace, a long veil and a huge bouquet of white flowers. 

Meanwhile, Hugh opted for a sharp black suit with a white shirt.

Do Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee have kids?

hugh jackman kids
Hugh and Deb share two adopted children

Hugh and Deborra adopted two children together – Oscar, who was born in 2000, and Ava, born in 2005. Hugh admitted that they made a pact with one another before they became parents in order to strengthen their relationship.

"Before we had kids, Deb and I made a pretty simple but powerful choice to look each other in the eye at every crossroads in life," Hugh wrote in an extract from The Father Hood: Inspiration for the New Dad Generation, published by WHO magazine. "But at those moments, we said we'd ask each other, 'Is this good or bad for our marriage?' Or, now that we've got kids, 'Is this good or bad for our family?' And as often as possible, we do the thing that is good for our family."

What did Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee say about the "secrets" to their marriage?

Hugh Jackman cuddling wife Deb in a fluffy coat against a city backdrop© Instagram
The actor shared a gushing tribute to his wife on their 27th anniversary

Hugh has shared countless comments about his marriage, which he once said only got better with time. "We're always learning and humans change so you have to, even though we've been together 25 years, you gotta reset all the time," he told People in March 2020.

"I'm always reeling in how funny she is and how amazing she is and how smart she is. The longer it goes on the better it gets," Hugh continued.

He also shared a sweet tribute to Deb on social media on their 25th anniversary, stating: "Being married to you Deb is as natural as breathing." Two years later, he gushed: "Your laughter, your spirit, generosity, humor, cheekiness, courage and loyalty is an incredible gift to me."

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What did Hugh and Deborra-Lee say in their separation announcement?

"We have been blessed to share almost 3 decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage. Our journey now is shifting and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth," they said in a statement shared with People. Our family has been and always will be our highest priority. We undertake this next chapter with gratitude, love, and kindness. We greatly appreciate your understanding in respecting our privacy as our family navigates this transition in all of our lives," they continued, signing off: "Deb and Hugh Jackman." 

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