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Like a hippie ‘Hallmark movie,’ Boynton couple re-weds 50 years after first marriage ended in divorce

Updated: Feb 14


Marc and Iris Rubinstein got remarried on Feb. 3, 2024. Their first marriage, Sept. 13, 1970, lasted less than three years..

JUST IN TIME for Valentine’s Day, a love story so enduring, so blissfully sappy, so torn from the script of a Hallmark movie, and so rock ‘n roll.  


Earlier this month, in a flower-filled pagoda surrounded by palm trees, Marc Rubinstein, 72, re-married the love of his life, Iris Strauss, 71. 


It’s not unheard of for divorced couples to get married to each other again. But for Marc and Iris, their second marriage to each other came nearly 54 years after their first — and after Marc and Iris each had multiple marriages before reuniting with each other. 


The first time they got hitched, on Sept. 13, 1970, they were love-drunk teenagers working at Pig Light Show, an ensemble whose popular psychedelic light performances served as visual backdrops for rock concerts at the Fillmore East in New York City. 


Bill Graham, the legendary rock promoter who opened the Fillmore East, offered to have Iris and Marc get married at the Fillmore, exchanging vows on stage just before The Byrds performed. But Iris’ mother would not have it. The young hippies got married at a Long Island synagogue. The 17-year-old bride wore a white gown; the 19-year-old groom rocked a suit. 


By the time they married each other again, on Feb. 3, 2024, they were graying seniors from Boynton Beach, in love and battling health issues. The 71-year-old bride wore a floral dress and sat in a wheelchair; the 72-year-old groom wore a Hawaiian floral shirt and sat on a chair. 



In front of a dozen close friends at the Southern Palm bed-and-breakfast in Loxahatchee, they exchanged vows -- again -- in a ceremony officiated by Marc’s daughter, Bunny, an ordained minister. 


“I think it's the absolute sweetest thing,’’ Bunny, 28, said. “It's something you would see in a Hallmark movie.’’ 


If their story is ever made into a movie, it would have a classic rock soundtrack from The Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Santana, Ten Years After and all the other bands who played at The Fillmore while Marc, Iris and their Pig Light Show co-workers created their own visual music with glass, liquids and projectors.


“My great memories are us together at the Fillmore. Best time of my life. That’s where we fell in love,’’ Iris said. 

 

Marc remembers it a little differently. He insists he fell in love with Iris maybe 10 years before they started working at The Fillmore, when he first saw her in a neighbor’s yard in Lido Beach. 


“I was 8 or 9,’’ Marc recalled. Iris “was playing with my across-the-street neighbor. The neighbor waved me over to meet her friend, a little redhead girl sitting with her on the lawn. The Earth fell out from under me and I fell in love with her.’’



Another six or so years went by before Marc saw Iris again, this time at a Who concert in 1967 at the Village Theater (which Graham a year later would convert into the Fillmore East).


“I was very shy. It took me a few years to get up the courage to ask her out,’’ Marc recalled.  


They started dating in January 1970.


Six months later they started working at The Fillmore, a young couple falling in love while putting on their versions of the visual light shows Marc first saw performed by pioneers like Headlights (at Jefferson Airplane shows) and Joshua Light Show.


After The Fillmore East closed in June 1971, Pig Light Show brought its visuals to concerts at The Capital Theatre in Passaic, N.J.



At the time, the trippy psychedelic light shows were unlike anything seen at rock concerts. They became such integral parts of the performances they'd be listed on promotional posters for upcoming concerts.


Jam sessions by Procol Harum, Black Sabbath and the Small Faces with Rod Stewart provided ample sonic inspiration for concertgoers. But Pig Light Show’s psychadelic visuals turned the evening into a mind trip as groovy as the music being performed with it.


“I don’t need drugs, All I have to do is watch the Pig Light Show and I’m as high as I want to be,’’ Mark Hudson, a producer for Ozzy Osbourne and Aerosmith once famously said



Working on the light shows and spending more and more time together, Iris and Marc were high on each other. 


“One day we were laying in her bedroom watching TV, because her parents were out in the living room, and she turned to me and said, ‘So, when are you going to marry me?’ I said, ‘Whenever you want.’’’


News of the engagement reached The Fillmore, where Graham — known as Uncle Bill to the Pig Light Show crew —  offered to host a rock ‘n’ roll  wedding for Marc and Iris.


“Uncle Bill treated us like family,” Marc recalled.


“He said, ‘What would you think about getting married here on stage?’ And we went, ‘Woah!’’’ 



Graham had big plans. The ceremony would happen Sept. 12 at The Fillmore, right after the duo Delaney & Bonnie finished their set and right before The Byrds took the stage.


“He wanted to walk her down the aisle as the light show was blasting on the screen on stage. The screen would rise to reveal me walking forward to meet them onstage,’’ Marc recalled. 


But Iris’ mother refused. The wedding would be held at the synagogue on Sept. 13.  


“Parents looked at the Fillmore East a little bit aghast,’’ Marc recalled.


“It would have been rock and roll history,'' he said, "but her mother said no and kept her in that Friday and Saturday night so she couldn't go to those shows with me. And we got married Sunday in a normal way.’’


Iris and Marc Rubinstein, Sept. 13, 1970 (Courtesy Marc Rubinstein)


The marriage lasted less than three years. In June 1973, Iris told Marc she was leaving. 


“I was absolutely dumbstruck,’’ he recalled.


Iris said she was diagnosed years later with bipolar disorder. She thinks the illness was a factor in the breakup. She would get married two more times and, as the years went by, she said she rarely thought about Marc. 


Marc would get married two more times and, as the years went by, he said he never stopped thinking about Iris — to the irritation of his wives.


“Both of my other wives had been jealous of my memory of her,’’ he recalled.  


“It’s not that I loved them any less, it's just that they were not the love of my life. They were loves, but (Iris) would always be in the back of my mind. I'd dream about her. There were times when I’d be having a problem and I’d  dream about talking to her and in the dream I'd solve the problem with her.’’


The Pig Light Show crew in 1971. Iris is fourth from left, Marc is sitting on the ground in front of the bench.

Over the decades after their divorce, Marc managed to stay in touch with Iris’ brothers. But, he said, “There was this unspoken rule that Iris never be mentioned.”


Fast-forward to 2015. Marc was living in Delray Beach, in a pool house at the home of Iris’ brother, Michael. That same year, Iris — not knowing Marc was living in Florida, let alone at her brother’s property — decided to visit Michael. She wanted to spend time looking for an apartment. She was ready to retire and leave New York for good. She wanted to be near palm trees and water, like the annual Florida vacations she once took with her parents. 


Michael’s wife at the time told Marc about Iris’ plans to visit and asked, “Do you think you can handle it?” 


Marc said he could. And when Iris found out Marc was living with her brother, she said she could handle it, too.  


In the first week of her visit, “We might have caught sight of each other once or twice,” Marc recalled, “but with 42 years and a bad breakup between us, there was no connection yet.” 



Iris in 2010

Then came a twist of fate.


One night in November, another old friend from New York arrived in South Florida to visit her brother for Thanksgiving. That friend was Nancy, who as a 9-year-old was the girl who was sitting on her lawn with Iris the first time Marc saw Iris. Marc and Nancy had stayed friends over the years, and he knew that Nancy and Iris had kept in touch, too.


But on Thanksgiving, Nancy got into an argument with her brother and abruptly left. She called Marc and asked him for a ride. Marc came and got Nancy and then dropped her off at Michael’s house, encouraging her to pay Iris a surprise visit. 


“I said, ‘Go to the house and talk to Iris, and when you're done talking to Iris, come to the pool house (where he was living) and we’ll drink a few margaritas,’’’ he recalled. 


“A little later I get a call and Nancy says, ‘I am coming over with Iris.'’’


Marc said he was “terrified’’ at first, but before long it felt like old times. 


“I poured margaritas and we started talking and within a couple of minutes we were finishing each other's sentences cracking jokes that only she and I would remember,’’ he recalled. 


Over the next couple of weeks, Marc and Iris saw more of each other. A grocery run to Publix. “Adventure rides” in her red Porsche Boxster with the roof down. Visits to the Palm Beach Zoo and Loggerhead Marinelife Center.


Marc in 2007 at the House of Blues in Las Vegas.

She eventually found an apartment in Boynton Beach with a view of palm trees and boats passing on the Intracoastal Waterway. Marc helped her shop for furniture. They spent evenings on her back porch talking for hours before he’d return to his Delray Beach apartment.  

 

Years earlier, Marc had revived his light shows — he brought one to Bumblefest in downtown West Palm Beach in 2016 — and now he took Iris with him to events like Fest For Beatles Fans in Chicago and the Summer of Love concert in Point Pleasant, N.J.


They were falling in love again. 


But Iris’ health was starting to decline.


Iris with Joey Molland of Badfinger in 2018.

Years earlier she had developed liver problems which turned into hepatic encephalopathy, a brain dysfunction caused by toxins in the liver, she said.


Her condition, which causes weakness, confusion and disorientation, is being treated. But she uses a wheelchair to get around. 


After she was hospitalized in 2016, Marc brought her home and started spending nights at her apartment. “At that point, we were romantic partners again,’’ he said. 


Though they have been together for the past eight years, they never felt a need to get married. After all, Marc had gotten Iris back, they loved each other and that was good enough. 


Marc and iris at their wedding Feb. 3, 2024.

“We felt the whole time the same way we felt when we were married, so we didn't feel a need to make it official,’’ said Marc. “But her health started going downhill and we started talking about it.’’ 


A significant reason for them to make it official was so Marc could legally be Iris’ power of attorney. Eventually they plan to move into an assisted living facility. 


Bunny Rubinstein

In late January, they decided it would be a good idea to get married, to make it official in the eyes of the courts.  

  

At 1 p.m. on Feb. 3, they were pronounced husband and wife.


Again. 


“I was elated,” Marc’s daughter, Bunny, said. “From the minute they kind of reconnected, they picked up right where I imagined they left off as teenagers, but on a better foot.’’ 


Marc reflects on his love for Iris and on their Pig Light Show days in a memoir called “Let There Be Light...Show (An Alien's Journey Through Humanity).” 

 

“I often am told I lived a life out of some fairy tale or dream. I imagine it is somewhat true. But with higher highs also come lower lows, the price of living a larger-than-life existence,’’ he said. 


“My love life has had its share of both, but my love for Iris came on like a lightning strike at nine years-old. At least she knows that electrical charge still is there and we are bound till 'death do us part.’"



© 2024 ByJoeCapozzi.com All rights reserved.

 

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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.

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