Aaron Latham has been married to longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl for more than 40 years. The couple tied the knot in 1977 and has one daughter together.
Latham is a well-known magazine journalist. He is best known for writing an article that inspired the movie Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta; Latham also co-wrote the screenplay.
Here’s what you need to know about Stahl’s husband:
1. Aaron Latham Once Explained He Became a Writer Because He Wanted to Become His ‘Mother’s Hero’
Latham was born in October 1943 in Spur, Texas, a small town located east of Lubbock. Latham’s father coached high school football and his mother was a teacher, according to a 1977 feature in People.
The family moved around throughout Latham’s childhood due to his father’s job. Latham wrote in Texas Monthly in 2000 that “every time [his father] had a winning season, we moved to a bigger place.” The Lathams spent time in Spur, Munday, De Leon, and Abilene.
Latham grew up playing football but his athletic career was cut short as a freshman in high school. Latham was severely injured during practice and doctors had to remove one of his kidneys. In the September 2000 feature for Texas Monthly, Latham explained what happened after his injury and how it was his mother who had a greater influence on his chosen career path:
Off the field, though, I always loved English. When I was little, I wrote stories in the form of cartoons. My mother was a schoolteacher, and she always wanted to be a writer herself. My theory is that before the women’s movement took hold, sons wanted to fulfill their mother’s unrealized—and perhaps unrealizable—ambitions. She raised me with the idea that writers were the great heroes of the world, and I wanted to be my mother’s hero.
According to his Facebook page, Latham graduated from Catalina High School in Tucson, Arizona, in 1962. His next move was to Massachusetts, where he attended Amherst College and was part of the 1966 graduating class. Latham earned his Ph.D. at Princeton and wrote about author F. Scott Fitzgerald for his dissertation, Texas Monthly reported. The dissertation specifically focused on Fitzgerald’s “motion-picture career, ” as Latham explained in the preface of his first book, Crazy Sundays: F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood.
2. Latham Began Working for Esquire Magazine in the Early 1970s & Has Written Multiple Books & Screenplays
Stahl is the better-known spouse because of her decades spent in front of a camera. But her husband has had just as illustrious of a career. Latham started working for Esquire magazine as an editor in the early 1970s. Over the subsequent decades, he worked for New York Magazine as an assistant editor and has contributed to Rolling Stone and The New York Times, according to his Simon & Schuster profile.
It was an assignment for Esquire in 1978 that spurred Latham’s career in a defining direction. He was tasked with writing about a “honky-tonk” nightclub in Houston called Gilley’s. The Houston Press reported in 2015 that during its prime, Gilley’s had a reputation as a “rough and tumble” club where people came to dance and ride the mechanical bull but also ran a high risk of getting into a fistfight.
Latham’s in-depth piece, called “The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy: America’s Search for True Grit” focused on refinery worker Dew Westbrook as its leading character. Latham wrote at the beginning of the piece how Gilley’s provided a sense of nostalgia for regulars:
As the country grows more and more complex, it seems to need simpler and simpler values: something like the Cowboy Code. According to this code, a cowboy is independent, self-reliant, brave, strong, direct, and open. All of which he can demonstrate by dancing the cotton-eyed Joe with the cowgirls, punching the punching bag, and riding the bull at Gilley’s. In these anxious days, some Americans have turned for salvation to God, others have turned to fad prophets, but more and more people are turning to the cowboy hat. Dew paid $35 for his on sale.
The article drew Hollywood’s attention. Latham ended up writing the screenplay, along with co-writer James Bridges, for a feature film. Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger, premiered in 1980. Latham kept detailed journals while making the movie, which he later donated to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
A few years after Urban Cowboy came out, Latham teamed up with Travolta and Bridges again for the 1985 movie Perfect. That movie was based on a feature Latham wrote for Rolling Stone called “Looking for Mr. Goodbody.” The article proclaimed that fitness clubs had become gathering places for single people to meet and mingle.
Latham’s resume includes writing the screenplay for a third movie, The Program, starring Halle Berry. Latham has also published several books including Crazy Sundays: F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, Orchids for Mother, The Cowboy With the Tiffany Gun and Riding with John Wayne.
3. Latham & Stahl Met While Covering the Watergate Scandal & Stahl Hung up on Latham the First Time He Called Her
Latham and Stahl’s love story would have seemed very unlikely based on their first phone call. In 1973, they were both reporting on the Watergate scandal; Stahl was working for CBS News in Washington at the time. Latham was looking for “anecdotes” on the Watergate investigation and was told Stahl would be a good person to call, according to a 1977 profile in People.
But Latham made the mistake of calling Stahl at her home. As Latham told the magazine, Stahl “barked” at him over the phone, “How dare you call me at home? If you want to talk, call me tomorrow at the office,” before hanging up. Latham explained that after he was able to set up an in-person meeting with Stahl, he looked up a picture of her and was instantly nervous. “I thought, ‘She’s so beautiful,'” Latham recalled to People. “My heart stopped, my mouth dried up and I said, ‘What have I got myself into?'”
Latham and Stahl ended up forming a friendship but romance took longer to materialize. As People reported, Latham was living with a girlfriend and Stahl had an active dating life. (She divorced her first husband, medical professional Jeffrey Gordon, in 1967).
Stahl explained to People that she and Latham’s relationship morphed into something more in 1974. She said that after President Nixon resigned, they were forced to start talking about different topics other than work. Stahl said, “We started seeing something different from what we had been seeing—almost like the old story of the boss who marries his secretary after 35 years.”
4. Latham & Stahl Got Married After She Became Pregnant With Their Only Daughter, Taylor
Latham and Stahl found out they were expecting a child together during the holiday season in 1976. In an interview with Hadassah Magazine in 2016, Stahl shared that her own mother, Dorothy, had been “bored” as a housewife and had always dissuaded Stahl from having children.
But Stahl said her mother suddenly started singing a different tune in 1977 and encouraged her to have the baby. Stahl and Latham had a small wedding in February 1977; Stahl told People, “I wouldn’t have a child without being married.”
Latham and Stahl’s daughter, Taylor, was born in September 1977. Stahl told Hadassah, “Having a child has made my life—so my mother was right. I love my career but when I look at my life I think of my daughter as the center of everything.”
Taylor Latham is now based in Los Angeles. She became a vice president of production at Double Feature Films and she married a screenwriter, Andrew Major, in 2013. The couple have two daughters named Jordan and Chloe.
Stahl documented she and Latham’s experiences as grandparents in her book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting. The grandkids call Stahl and Latham “Lolly” and “Pop.”
5. Latham Attends Boxing Classes to Battle Parkinson’s Disease
Latham has been battling Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade. According to Brain & Life magazine, Latham began exhibiting symptoms in 2007 and suffered a few falls before he received the diagnosis.
In 2015, Latham started a new exercise regimen to slow the progression of the disease. He started participating in a therapy program called Rock Steady; his local program has since been renamed StoPD. The boxing program was designed for Parkinson’s patients and Latham’s program place at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, where Muhammad Ali trained.
Latham’s boxing was also featured in a 2015 episode of CBS Sunday Morning. Stahl interviewed her husband for the piece, which is embedded above and available on YouTube. The piece explained that each exercise targets a symptom of the disease; punching can steady the tremors and sparring helps with coordination. Latham said that “Boxing is just the opposite of Parkinson’s. Everything is designed, instead of to shrink you, everything is designed to pump you up.” Latham added, “It gets your physical courage back and your mental courage seems to kind of come along.”
The next year, Latham also discussed the program during a trip to Amherst College for a class of 1966 reunion. He sat on a panel about facing health struggles. Latham said, “Boxing gloves are big; Parkinson’s makes you feel small. Boxing is my main defense now against the disease.”
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