Talk-show icon Oprah Winfrey though she's seen it all. But she hadn't. When her star guest Tom Cruise jumped onto her sofa in front of seven million viewers and shouted: "I've met this wonderful girl. I love her and I'm going to marry her..." Oprah whispered to an aide. "I can't cope with this. How do we get him off..?
It was May 2006 and the beginning of an extraordinary love story which everyone knew was almost certain to end in tears. Twice-married Tom Cruise, 42, Hollywood's richest star had met 26-year-old bit-part actress Katie Holmes a month earlier and was determined to marry her.
He told a friend: "Even if it doesn't work out and it costs me $20 million I don't care. Katie is the only girl for me." As it happened it cost him an estimated $100 million and he did care. Friends were fearful that in his grief after losing Katie after only five years of marriage Tom Cruise might attempt to take his life. It was a love story which had all the ingredients of a Hollywood epic. Katie, the strict Catholic girl from Toledo, Ohio, would remember: "I think every little girl dreams about her wedding and back home I used to think I was going to marry Tom Cruise..."
They met at a friend's party in April, 2006, and for Katie it was love at first sight. She told a friend: "He's the man of my dreams. From the moment I met Tom I felt as if I'd known him for ever. I was blown away. He is the most incredible man. He is so generous and kind and he helps so many people. He makes me laugh like I've never laughed and he is already a great friend. It seemed that Tom Cruise had already forgotten his bitter and expensive divorces from Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman and was desperate to settle down with "my beloved Katie."
Katie was swept off her feet in a way she had only imagined in her dreams. It was a hectic world of private jets, shopping sprees around the world, tropical islands, exclusive skiing resorts ... all the razzle-dazzle which goes with being a super A-lister.
Katie loved it. Friends had never seen her so relaxed and happy. She had her dream man and nothing else mattered. Soon she was pregnant and their daughter Suri was born in October 2005. A year later the couple were married in a 15th century Italian castle with Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Lopez among the guests. The Scientology service upset Katie's parents, who were strict Catholics and they warned their daughter against getting involved. But to no avail.
Married and back in his Hollywood mansion, Tom lost no time in introducing his bride to the religious cult with which he was deeply involved and at first Katie liked what she heard.
I'm really excited about Scientology. I know how important it is to Tom and I want to be able to share that with him. But before long she was becoming fearful of the cult's influence on the family and particularly on Suri. Tom wanted her to go to a Scientology nursery school but Katie eventually won the battle and sent the youngster to a Catholic establishment.
She told her parents: "I am fighting all the way to stop Scientology wrecking our marriage. Tom simply can't see the pressure it puts on us. I am convinced I am being spied on. I know they regard me as a bad influence and have told Tom he should never have married me.
Katie said that Tom was getting increasingly controlling and in 2007 he presented her with a 100-page marriage contract stipulating that if the marriage broke up Katie would get around $70 million of her husband's $275 million fortune plus an extra $10 million if the marriage lasted more than five years. You can imagine what all this legal stuff is doing to our marriage, Katie told her parents. "It is as though Tom has already given up the fight to keep us together and is planning for the worst case scenario.
I still love him and we do have happy times together and with Suri but the shadow of Scientology hangs over us and Tom won't do anything without consulting