Kevin Costner’s long and winding quest to find the perfect wife after divorcing Cindy took him down a new path that collided directly with Christine Baumgartner’s. Another beautiful model would don his arm, as the fashion handbag designer and much younger beauty fell in love with the double-Oscar winning ‘Dances With Wolves’ actor. As a coincidence, Baumgartner’s alma mater is California State University Fullerton, too.
They met while he was practicing golf for his role in ‘Tin Cup’ in the late 1980s. He was married then. But in 1998, when they ran into each other again, he was free and so was she. He got her phone number and said he would call her in two weeks. It caught the actor off guard. He said, “When I met Christine, I wasn’t prepared to be in love again. It took me a long time before I said, ‘I love you’ to her, a long time.’” Long story short, they began dating, despite the 20-year age difference.
1997 Was a Good Year for Costner
Two successful films lifted Costner into the coveted realm of actor accolades. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his outstanding performance in 'Tin Cup' (1996) and was honored with a nomination for a Saturn Award for his 1997 film 'The Postman'. And then the year got a little better.
He met news anchor Tawny Little. He dated the Miss America pageant winner secretly in 1997 and 1998. Costner wasn’t the first celeb Little dated. She had relationships with Ron Silver and Burt Reynolds, as well.
A Steamy 1999 Rumor Enrages John Travolta
By 1999, when Costner was filming 'For the Love of the Game', it wasn’t a professional baseball player pal he ticked off. Instead, it was an actor colleague. Apparently, men do not appreciate rumors of their wife hooking up with Kevin Costner. 'For the Love of the Game' co-star Kelly Preston, who happened to be married to John Travolta, became the focus of a brief tabloid flare-up.
While working on the film, the gossip press asserted the couple’s romance spilled from the storyline and the set into more intimate, offscreen places. National Enquirer published a story claiming that Travolta was “furious.” Neither Costner nor Preston addressed the press allegations. Meanwhile, Travolta and Preston remained married. And, Costner was just on the cusp of meeting “the one.”
Costner’s Transition Out of Bachelorhood
His life as a single man was wild and crazy. He admitted it himself, saying, “When I wanted some company in my life, I was like the classic single guy—who do I love this week, who next week? I wouldn’t even use the word ‘love’ with someone, because that makes things trickier.” All the while, the tabloid press was trying to keep up.
When he ran into Christine Baumgartner again, however, all that began to change. Things were going well for a while. They started dating in 1998 when she was 33, and he was 53. But by 2002, they hit a rough patch and separated. The younger Baumgartner wanted to have children, while Costner refused to start a new family. She told him she would wait for him to come back, “but not long.”
Costner was ready for love, but not family and commitment. Luckily, he pulled it together in time and saved their relationship. Being single again was a good reminder. He had time to realize his mistake. “Fear kept me from marrying Christine,” Costner said. Adding, “[She] wanted a child, but I was afraid I couldn’t be an effective father.”
They dated for four years, and when it ended, he realized, “'Am I going to lose a beautiful woman who is willing to be with me to my very last breath because I am afraid to say yes to a child?’ That’s all it took.”