Joe Mantegna Is Married for 46 Years to High School Friend Who Paused Her Dream to Support His Career
Finding a partner who stands by you through thick and thin is a blessing in itself. And actor Joe Mantegna has been lucky both in his career and his love life.
Joe Mantegna is an incredibly popular actor. His portrayal of David Rossi on CBS “Criminal Minds” is the most iconic role that he is known for. While on the show Mantegna’s character has a number of failed relationships and marriages, in real life, his love life is a triumph.
Joe Mantegna’s marriage to Arelene Vrhel is legendary. He met the woman of his dreams when he was only in high school and since then their romance has blossomed into something beautiful.
The duo was cast in a play together while they were in the same drama club at school. But it was not until a few years later that their relationship turned romantic.
Mantegna was at Morton East High School and junior college in Cicero, Illinois, while Arlene studied at Morton West High School in Berwyn, Illinois.
The duo met again a few years later when they were both wiser. The two had been cast in ‘Hair,’ a play at a theater in Chicago. It was at this stage in their lives that their relationship became romantic.
Later Joe recalled fondly, “As it turned out, we both got cast. And, you know, it turned into something else.”
And Joe recalls that play and the memories associated with it quite often. He shared an image of him and his wife, in costume for the play. He captioned the picture, “Yes that’s me and my darling wife Arlene when we did Hair. #hairthemusical.”
While the couple knew early on that this was it, they remained unmarried for a while, taking their time and having fun. According to Arlene, this was because they were “hippies.”
But in 1975, the couple decided to make things official and tied the knot after sharing vows with one another in the most romantic place on earth; on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
During this period, Joe was working on Broadway and trying to make his way onto television screens. And as anyone can imagine, it was not an easy transition. And as he waited for calls about roles, his wife stuck by his side through it all.
His wife stuck by his side literally as the actor moved them to Los Angeles, with all their belongings in the back of a U-Haul truck. Actor Dennis Franz joined them on their journey with a similar goal in mind; to get a breakthrough role.
This cemented the friendship between Mantegna and Franz even further. There was even a rumor that Mantegna threatened to leave a play if Franz was fired from it.
Mantegna finally struck gold with “Glengarry Glen Ross.” After his role in the movie, he was regularly getting casting calls for bigger productions just like he had wanted.
The couple finally settled down on a gorgeous property in Toluca near Burbank. Mantegna’s loving wife stood by his side, dedicating her time and effort to grooming her husband for further success.
There are countless stories of the couple’s love for one another and Arlene’s unending support. While Mantegna once performed in Goodman Theatre, he forgot his lines leading to an awkward silence. During a break in the play, Arelene rushed to her husband’s side and gave him a comforting hug which helped him get through the rest of the play successfully enough to be noted as “brilliant” by critics.
And as the loving husband that he is, Joe makes sure to thank her every chance he gets. He once said, “Outside my immediate family, she’s the only one that’s taken the ride with me. She’s been able to be part of it all, contribute toward it all, do it all, and see my dreams come true.”
And like his wife’s constant support to him, he made sure to support her as well. He helped her achieve one of her dreams of owning a restaurant. The couple opened up a restaurant in 2003 named “Taste Chicago,” a restaurant in Burbank.
The theme for the restaurant was the city of Chicago where they both grew up and it served famous Chicago meals, which included fast foods like Italian beef sandwiches, Vienna beef hotdogs, and deep-dish pizza.
They ran the restaurant together for over 15 years, when it closed down Joe said he could not be “prouder” of his wife.
In 2022, he has been married for almost 50 years and while it has not all been a bed of roses, it has had its perks. Joe said, “I won’t say, “Life’s been perfect, and I’ve never had a problem, it was all dandy.” I don’t think anybody can say that. But what we’ve done is we’ve hung on, and I think the longer we hung on, the better it got.”
The couple’s advice to young couples is similar; to hold on and never go to bed angry with one another.
The couple is also proud parents to two talented daughters. Their daughter Gina, aka Gia Mantegna, is a professional actress with accolades of her own, including her role on the show “The Middle.”
Apart from focusing on their family, the couple is also involved in a lot of charities. Joe also happens to be the spokesperson for the National Army Museum.
The couple has honestly built a beautiful life together and still enjoy each other’s company just like they did when they first met.
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