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Mel Gibson’s first love

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Getty Images

Julie Prior and Mel Gibson were teenage sweethearts. Here, she tells Michael Sheather about the five happy years she shared with the charismatic young man who became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

For Julie Prior, love’s first bloom is no romantic cliché. Tucked between the pages of a yellowed, time-worn photographic album rests the now fragile stem and petals of the first rose that her teenage boyfriend – a handsome, chisel-jawed youth with a fine crop of curling shoulder-length hair – gave her more than 37 years ago.

That Julie, now 53, kept such a memento is not so remarkable, but the identity of the boy who gave it to her is. It was Mel Gibson, the man who would, in later years, conquer Hollywood, win Oscars and accolades, and become for millions of women around the world the sexiest man on the planet.

The rose that Mel gave Julie was the first indication of his affections for her, an affection that lasted throughout their teenage years, from 1971 until Mel ended their relationship five years later, after he entered the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

“Mel was my first boyfriend, my first love in that teenage sense,” says Julie, who also has a silver friendship ring, a present from Mel on her 16th birthday. “He was a huge part of my life. We were virtually joined at the hip for five years.

“I kept the rose all this time because I was in love with him and he was with me, too. People say that you never forget your childhood sweetheart.

“I think that’s true. Mel was my childhood sweetheart and I haven’t forgotten him, but it would be difficult to forget being sweethearts with Mel.”

Of course, Mel Gibson’s star doesn’t burn as brightly these days as it once did. His reputation in Hollywood and, perhaps, across the globe, hangs in tatters after a series of outbursts and scandals that have seen him labelled as anti-Semitic, misogynist and dangerously close to the edge.

Your say: what do you think of Mel Gibson? Do you think he is still the superstar he once was? Would you go and see a film with him in it?

Read more of this story in the September issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

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