Odd History: 21-Year Old Man Marries 77-Year Old Step-Grandmother in 1978

Odd History: 21-Year Old Man Marries 77-Year Old Step-Grandmother in 1978

Today we look back at the 1978 news story about a 21-year old man who married his 77-year old step-grandmother.

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In the late 1970’s, a bizarre story was covered for over a year in the press in which a 20-year old man proposed to, and later married, his 77-year old step-grandmother.

The story began in 1975 when Ira “Ray” Goodman, a former chorus girl living in south London, went to visit her step-son’s family shortly after her husband died. That’s when her friendship with her step-grandson – then-teenage Mark Goodman – “blossomed.”

Two years later Mark dropped out of UCLA to move to London to be with Ray, to the chagrin of his parents. It wasn’t long before the couple announced their engagement.


In December 1977, Mark and Ray – who Mark referred to as “G.R.” for “Gramma Ray” – were now living together in England and met with the British press to announce their engagement. They had hoped to wed on Mark’s 21st birthday the following month.

When asked about the difference in their ages, Mark quipped, “To hell with what anyone thinks, We are going to be married.”

goodmans engaged

Wire photo of the engaged couple from late 1977.

The couple were asked about their sex life, to which Mark replied, “This is love, but it’s a very, very special type of love… I think sex is a weakness.” Mrs. Goodman added that “I don’t expect to have a sexual married life. I look upon it as a pure relationship.”

“I know people might think he is marrying for money. How wrong they are. Neither of us has any,” she stated.

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On December 10, 1977 the Registrar of the London borough of Paddington stated that Mark and Ray’s marriage would not be allowed. An official told the press, “They can’t get married anywhere in this country and that’s flat. It’s all in Section 1 of the 1949 Marriage Act.” That law spelled out 25 prohibited “degrees of relationships” including a groom’s father’s father’s wife, even if there was no blood relation.

Responding to the law in England which prohibited such a wedding, Ray said, “We will marry somehow – it’s love.”

The Goodmans looked to Los Angeles as an alternate location for their wedding. A supervisor at the Los Angeles county clerk’s marriage license bureau told reporters that the Goodmans would be allowed to marry because there was no blood relation.


Mark and Ray were married on January 29, 1978 in a “secret” wedding in Southern California, just 4 days after his 21st birthday. The groom’s parents lived nearby but did not attend.

The couple appeared a few months later on an episode of The Merv Griffin Show which aired on August 28, 1978.


In January 1979, the AP published a follow-up story on the couple on their first wedding anniversary, which they celebrated on January 29 with a few friends.

Goodmans anniversary

Mark and Ray Goodman on their first anniversary.

Mark said his parents were “learning to accept” the marriage, and they were now visiting each other twice a week. “It’s been a heck of a year,” he told the press, “and this next year’s going to be even better.” Mrs. Goodman added that “things are going fine… We’re very happy.”

While downplaying the age difference, he described the relationship as “somewhere in between…A combination of young couple and old couple.” He noted that the couple typically watched television, played cards, took long drives along the coast. They also liked to go dancing, which would “raise a few eyebrows.”

“She dances a little slower but she stays with the rhythm,” Mark said.

“We have had mixed reactions over the past year but once you see us together you understand,” Mark said. “Age has no relevance.”

After the couple’s first anniversary, little was reported about the Goodmans. One would presume that Ray has since passed, as she would be 114 in 2015. At the time, Mark was working as a securities investor, and the couple was residing in Chatsworth, California.

Bottom Line

In 1977, a 20-year old man and his 77-year old step-grandmother announced plans to marry. After being turned away in England, they relocated to the Los Angeles area and wed in January 1978. The last report on the couple came on their first wedding anniversary in January 1979.

How the story ended remains a mystery.

Do you have any information to add to the story above? Please let us hear from you in the comments below.


  • “Youth, Granny to Wed.” Spokane Daily Chronicle 10 Dec. 1977: 24. Print.
  • Wilson, Jeff. “Age Gap No Barrier To Happy Marriage.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 13 Jan. 1979: 6. Print.
  • “Year Exciting for ‘odd Couple'” The Tuscaloosa News 29 Jan. 1979: 13. Print.
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