Where other actors live in the full glare of the public spotlight, 77-year-old Hollywood icon Diane Keaton keeps her private life mostly concealed. But one thing most people do know about Keaton is that she has spent much of her life single. Although she's dated high-profile actors in the past, she recently made headlines by admitting she hasn’t been on a date in more than 35 years. And judging by her comments, she won't be opening the door to love anytime soon.
She's a catch
Keaton has won an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and a BAFTA, and she wears many other hats in addition to her impressive headwear collection. She's also a director and producer, dabbles in photography and real estate, and writes and sings. In short, Keaton is a catch!
Keaton has always been drawn to strong, empowered women. Katharine Hepburn, well known for portraying such savvy characters, majorly influenced the star. Hepburn was never one to give up her independence for a man, and Keaton ended up having very similar values. Even if, as a teenager, she didn't quite realize it yet.
Chasing her dreams
Diane was still going by her surname "Hall" then and felt determined to see her dreams through. After graduating from Santa Ana High School in California, she briefly studied acting in college. However, she felt a pull toward the stage and quit to move to New York and joined the Actors Equity Association. Soon, she encountered another aspiring star named Diane Hall, which prompted her to adopt Keaton, her mother's maiden name.
A mini Annie Hall
As a side hustle, Keaton sang in clubs – a vocation notably shared by her character in 1977’s Annie Hall. During the day, however, the future star studied at New York’s famous Neighborhood Playhouse, learning an acting method called the Meisner technique. Her first gig was a nine-month run on Broadway in 1968 with a minor part in Hair.
Almost foiled by her height
Then, when Keaton’s time in Hair came to an end, she tried out for Woody Allen’s take on Play It Again, Sam. Interestingly, she nearly didn’t get the part as she was noticeably taller than Allen. And yet not only was her audition successful, but she also received a Tony Award nod for her performance.
Dating Woody Allen
While starring together on Broadway, Keaton and Allen became close and started dating. Although the pair’s romance lasted only a year, their friendship and working relationship continued. In fact, Keaton would go on to star in no fewer than eight Allen movies, including the screen adaptation of Play It Again, Sam, Annie Hall, Sleeper, and Manhattan.
Her big-screen debut
Keaton’s big-screen debut came in the 1970 comedy Lovers and Other Strangers. It was among the highest-grossing movies of the year and received three Oscar nods, winning the award for Best Original Song. Plus, the success of the film thrust Keaton into the limelight, and her Hollywood career took off.
A "woman in a world of men"
Then in 1972 Keaton starred as Kay Adams, the girlfriend-turned-wife of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in The Godfather. And she fed off her behind-the-scenes experience of making the movie to portray the character. You see, the actress described her involvement as being “the woman in a world of men” – much like Kay’s place within a male-dominated crime family.
She knew she was eccentric
Apparently, director Francis Ford Coppola had selected Keaton for the role of Kay in The Godfather after seeing her in Lovers and Other Strangers. At this point, the young actor had already earned a reputation for being somewhat eccentric. She even claimed that she was dubbed “the kooky actress” of the movie world. But it was this trait that Coppola wanted to be conveyed in her role.
A slew of hits
The Godfather is, of course, among the most famous and critically acclaimed movies in history. But although Keaton reprised her role as Kay in The Godfather Part II in 1974, one of her most prominent movie appearances followed later that decade. Yes, she teamed up once again with her former flame Woody Allen for 1977’s Annie Hall.
Her similarities with Annie
It’s fair to say, too, that Annie Hall was a pivotal moment in Keaton’s career. It’s a movie that she credits with setting her up for all the success and accolades that followed. In July 2019 she explained to InStyle, “Obviously, I owe it all to Annie Hall. That was the beginning.” After all, Keaton was Annie Hall.
Annie is a different version of Diane
You see, it’s often been suggested that the character of Annie Hall was developed around Keaton. Her real last name is Hall, for one thing, while friends call her Annie. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that she and Allen were once romantically involved. And, apparently, Keaton has described the part as an “affable version” of her real-life persona.
An Oscar-winning performance
In fact, Annie Hall and Keaton are perhaps more alike than many fans may know. In November 2011 the Daily Mail described the character as “semi-articulate, dreamed of being a singer, and suffered from insecurity.” Keaton reportedly recognized these qualities in herself, too, so it wasn’t a huge challenge to play her – and that’s perhaps why she was surprised to win an Academy Award for her performance.
Her individuality was clear
On Oscars night, Keaton turned up to the ceremony showcasing her unique style. She’d confidently thrown together a layered outfit of slacks, two skirts, a white shirt, a blazer, and a scarf finished with a pink boutonnière and her hair in an unkempt updo. And the actor’s individuality stood out far enough from the glitzy crowd to gain someone’s attention.
Her dream date
Yes, Keaton caught the eye of famous womanizer Warren Beatty. When the silver-screen legend called her the day before Christmas 1977, it was as though her childhood dreams had come true. After all, Keaton had reportedly been smitten with the heartthrob since her teenage years when she’d watched him in Splendor in the Grass.
She took on a challenging role
Keaton and Beatty started dating in 1978, with their relationship lasting through the production of the 1981 Russian Civil War epic Reds. In the movie, Keaton stars opposite Beatty as a feminist journalist – a challenging role for which she again received widespread acclaim. The actress bagged an Oscar nomination, for one thing, and extended herself beyond the parts that she’d played for Woody Allen.
"I kept falling"
In Keaton’s 2011 memoir, she wrote of her romance with Beatty, “I fell, and I kept falling for a long time.” Ultimately, however, the kooky actress reportedly felt uncomfortable among the actor’s high-class friends, such as Anjelica Huston and Jackie Kennedy. She even found him to be somehow unattainable, and eventually, their affair fizzled out.
A tough time in the '80s
Then, through the ’80s, Keaton’s acting career wavered. While she shone in 1982 drama Shoot the Moon, her role in thriller The Little Drummer Girl two years later was ill-suited to her, according to critics. And although 1984’s Mrs. Soffel and 1986’s Crimes of the Heart were better matches with higher acclaim, none achieved the success of her earlier movies.
A fateful reunion
In her memoir, Keaton noted, “Without a great man writing and directing for me, I realized I was a mediocre movie star at best.” Given the substantial critical acclaim she had previously received, though, the star was selling herself short. But, nevertheless, a “great man” returned to her life in 1987 after a chance encounter with her former co-star Al Pacino.
When they had first met on the set of The Godfather, Keaton and Pacino had both been in relationships. Even so, Keaton had allegedly harbored a crush on him for the 15 years since. And in 1987 they began an on-again, off-again affair that lasted through the filming of The Godfather Part III until a nasty breakup in 1990.
She issued an ultimatum
Keaton was convinced that Pacino was the man she wanted to marry. In fact, she apparently insisted to him that they should and so issued an ultimatum. Yet Pacino seemingly didn’t return the sentiment and instead stated that the idea was one that he’d never entertained. Then, two months after Keaton’s dad passed away, Pacino walked out. She was broken.
Her views on marriage
From a young age, Keaton had longed to marry one day. In a May 2013 interview with The Daily Telegraph, she recalled, “I remember watching [actress] Myrna Loy being interviewed, and somebody said, ‘It’s too bad you’re not married anymore.’ And she said, ‘I don’t want to be married anymore – not at all.’” And Loy’s attitude had shocked Keaton.
"That will never happen to me"
She continued, “I remember thinking, ‘How sad. How could anybody come to that? I was in the prime of my life. You’re biologically driven in some way; you can’t help it, you’re an animal. So I looked at her and thought, ‘That will never happen to me.’” Only it did.
A surprising admission
Clearly, Keaton’s high-profile romances go hand in hand with her illustrious acting career. But while the star’s work on screen continued through the ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s, the same can’t be said of her love life. In fact, in July 2019 she made a very surprising admission.
Out of the dating game for decades
Keaton told InStyle magazine, “I haven’t been on a date in, I would say, 35 years. No dates.” Basic arithmetic, then, would suggest that the actress’ departure from dating came around the time of her relationship with Al Pacino. There is, however, a very simple reason that the Hollywood veteran hasn’t been in the dating game for so long.
A noticeable absence
You see, Keaton confessed to InStyle that she never gets asked out. She joked, “Never. All right?” And in an interview for AARP The Magazine’s April/May 2023 feature story, Keaton reiterated, “I don’t date. Highly unlikely. I don’t remember anyone calling me, going, 'This is So-and-So, I’d like to take you out.’ They don’t happen. Of course not.” And Hollywood’s leading men have been noticeably absent from her recent private life.
Don't call her a "spinster"
Plus, back in April 2013, Keaton confessed to Ellen DeGeneres, “I’d like to get married. What happened was nobody ever asked me.” But forget any ideas of a lonely spinster. Keaton has kept herself far too busy with work, hobbies, and family in her later years to subscribe to such an uncouth cliché.
"I'm an old maid!"
“I’m an old maid!” she declared to The Daily Telegraph, tongue firmly in cheek and roaring with laughter. “That concept is such nonsense – the idea that if you never marry you’re destroyed. I can’t imagine marrying now; that’s not happening.” Keaton is, of course, nothing if not unconventional, describing herself as an “oddball.”
Single all her life
Keaton admitted to People in May 2019, “I think I’m strange. I’m 73, and I think I’m the only one in my generation – and maybe before – who has been a single woman all her life.” She even wonders if she lacks a certain “nurturing” characteristic that would make a marriage successful.
The highs and lows of relationships past
Keaton talks at length in her memoir, Then Again, about the insecurities and five-year battle with bulimia that blighted her relationship with Allen. Beatty, on the other hand, was able to take what therapists called “anxiety neurosis” and use it to her advantage. Keaton said, “Under his gaze, I suddenly became the most captivating person in the world.”
She had other dreams to achieve
Apparently, Beatty’s belief was that Keaton could achieve anything that she set her mind to. It was an assessment of her character that she ran with to expand her repertoire. As well as a revered actress, Keaton is now a director, producer, writer, photographer, fashion icon, and singer. And in 1996 she took on arguably her most challenging role yet.
Becoming a mother
While Keaton may never have married, motherhood was something that she was determined not to miss out on. So, at 50 years old, the actress adopted daughter Dexter, with son Duke following in 2001. But although Keaton harbors mixed feelings over the lack of a father figure in her kids’ lives, she has no regrets about being a single mother.
She's unlike anyone else
“I don’t think it would have been a good idea for me to have married, and I’m really glad I didn’t,” Keaton told People. “I’m sure they’re happy about it too.” By all appearances, the actress is refreshingly unconventional with a personality that’s at odds with more typically aloof Hollywood legends. In fact, in 2013 Keaton explain why she never got married in just a few words.
She knows exactly who she is
"I'm kind of odd," she said in an interview with Extra. "But I'm doing fine." So if anyone was worried about Keaton's well-being as a single woman, their worries are apparently for naught. Besides — Keaton herself claimed that although marriage is highly unlikely for her, it may not be completely out of the realm of possibility.
"Someone will marry me"
"Someday, someone will marry me," she confidently told Extra. But it's clear at this point that even if the actor never walks down the aisle, she'll be perfectly content. There are so many different kinds of love in her life, and not just the love she feels for her storied career or her children. One of her greatest loves in life was actually dropped off at her front door.
A life of love
Keaton's dog, Reggie, is a source of happiness in Keaton's life. "A friend of mine gave her to me," Keaton told AARP. "He came to me and said, 'I think you need this dog.' I was like, 'Okay, I guess?'" Keaton recalled. "Of course, now I just love her." But when Keaton isn't walking Reggie or raising her kids, does she ever think about her past lovers? Does she wonder what could have been?
Where are they now?
Maybe she did in 2017 when the American Film Institute honored her with its 45th Life Achievement Award. And all three of her most famous ex-lovers, including Pacino – whose path Keaton has apparently rarely crossed since their 1990 breakup – attended the ceremony. The Godfather star declared from the stage, “You’re a great artist. I love you forever.”