Patrick Dempsey Was 18 When He Met His First Wife – She Was 44

Patrick Dempsey's first wife Rocky Parker was 26 years older than him and fans are only just realising this.
Credit: Alamy

The Grey’s Anatomy star was once married to a woman who was 25 years older than him. 

Patrick Dempsey, 57, is an American actor and racing driver who is best known for his role as neurosurgeon Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd in the ABC medical drama.

The Bridget Jones’s Baby actor has been with Jillian Fink, 57, since 1994 and they’ve been married since 1999 – with the couple sharing three children: Talula, 21, and twin sons Darby and Sullivan, 16, per People.

But not many fans are aware that this isn’t Dempsey’s first marriage, as he was once married to a much older woman.

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Dempsey starred in the play Brighton Beach Memoirs on Broadway opposite 44-year-old actress Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Parker – who played his aunty in the production – back in 1984 when he was 18 years old.

Parker had appeared in a handful of films including Happy Together and In The Mood, as per IMDb, but was known for her stage work and as an acting coach.

The pair reportedly began spending a lot of time together after rehearsals where she would give him career advice, as per Spock and Christine.

As Dempsey started making a name for himself as an actor, Parker became his manager and shortly after, they developed feelings for one another and began dating.

Patrick Dempsey and Rocky Parker.
Patrick Dempsey and Rocky Parker reportedly hid their marriage for the first two years to avoid backlash surrounding their age gap. Credit: Alamy

The pair exchanged vows in 1987 after three years of dating but reportedly, they chose to keep their marriage a secret for a while due to the age differences, according to AmoMama.

Parker had already been married twice before Dempsey and had three children.

Although they did have a happy marriage initially, Parker filed for divorce in 1991 – with it being finalised in 1994 – due to ‘irreconcilable differences’, reportedly after he told her that he had met another woman, as per Today.

Patrick Dempsey and Jillian Fink.
Patrick Dempsey is married to Jillian Fink and they share three children. Credit: Alamy

Dempsey addressed their marriage in an interview with Barbara Walters, stating that their relationship started for all the wrong reasons.

The Sweet Home Alabama star admitted (via Parade): “I think I needed a mother. There were a lot of negative things that I’m still undoing from it.

“She had a son one year older than me.”

Parker died aged 74 in 2014 from throat and lung cancer, as per IBTimes.

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Fans of the actor have taken to social media to react to Dempsey’s first marriage.

One person pens: “Someone tell me why I never knew that Patrick Dempsey’s first wife is 25 years older than him.”

“Wait what?! Patrick Dempsey’s first wife was 47 and he was 21,” adds a second.

“I just found out that Patrick Dempsey’s first wife was 25 years older than him,” admits a third.

Another fan writes: “Patrick Dempsey’s first wife Rocky Parker was 25 years older than him and his acting coach. They got together when he was only 18.”

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.