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Arts & Culture

Lucky in Love: Famous New Orleans Couples

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and romance in New Orleans, here are some of the most charming and well known New Orleans couples, both real and fictional.

See that couple strolling by hand-in-hand? It’s not hard to get all lovey-dovey when you’re with the one you love in New Orleans; we just inspire romance (and passion) in our architecture, history, and unique culture. To help celebrate New Orleans romance and get into the Valentine’s Day spirit, let’s take a look at some famous New Orleans couples, both real and fictional.

Stanley and Stella Kowalski

new orleans characters
Ashley Ricord Santos as Stella Kowalski and Michael Aaron Santos as Stanley Kowalski in New Orleans’ Southern Rep Theatre’s production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ (Photo by Ride Hamilton)

This fictional couple from New Orleans playwright Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” embodies the steamy passion that New Orleans can bring out in anyone, even if Stanley & Stella’s love was at times a bit heated! Rent a bike and discover the riverside neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny that the Kowalski’s called home  – the location of their home on Elysian Fields is one of several places you can rent a bike (in real life!) and discover the New Orleans of Tennessee Williams.

Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe

Where would New Orleans music be without the influence of Ernie K-Doe, whose hit record of Allen Toussaint’s song “Mother-In-Law” reached #1 on the Billboard charts when it debuted in 1956? With wife Antoinette, who was universally referred to as “Miss Antoinette” – they were local fixtures around town and on the New Orleans R&B scene, with their popular bar Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge on North Claiborne in the Treme and continued after the death of Ernie K-Doe in 2001. Miss Antoinette could be seen many places with a flamboyantly dressed wax figurine of her loving husband in tow after he passed. Although Miss Antoinette passed away on Mardi Gras Day in 2009, their club lives on in the hands of trumpeter Kermit Ruffins who now operates the Mother-In-Law Lounge, maintaining its colorful exterior murals and interior dive-bar party atmosphere, with regular gigs from the likes of the Treme Brass Band.

Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe ride as King and Queen in a parade to celebrate 280 years of music in New Orleans.     Photo by Pat Jolly
Ernie and Antoinette K-Doe ride as King and Queen in a parade to celebrate 280 years of music in New Orleans (Photo by Pat Jolly, courtesy of k-doe.com)

Vic and Nat’ly

Be on the lookout for the Leidenheimer Bakery bread delivery trucks stopping at some of your favorite New Orleans eateries to deliver hot, fresh loaves of French Bread. The trucks are festooned with two classic New Orleans comic characters that are old school New Orleans all the way: Vic and Nat’ly Broussard.

Vic & Nat'ly can be seen around New Orleans on Leidenheimer delivery trucks helping supply New Orleans French Bread to local restaurants.     Photo by Infrogmation
Vic & Nat’ly can be seen around New Orleans on Leidenheimer delivery trucks helping supply New Orleans French Bread to local restaurants. (Photo from Flickr by Infrogmation)

We share the same last name. I might actually be related to them, though there’s a Vic and Nat’ly in many New Orleans families! These loveable Yats from the Ninth Ward own a corner po-boy shop and talk that NOLA speak that’s unmistakable. Cartoonist Bunny Matthews created the characters in the 1980s who have been a local fixture ever since.

Dooky and Leah Chase

new orleans couple
Dooky and Leah Chase
(Photo courtesy of dookychaserestaurant.com)

As a city, we’re thankful bandleader Edgar “Dooky” Chase met and married his wife Leah and they took over the family restaurant. This real New Orleans couple has been in the restaurant business together since the 1950s – their restaurant, Dooky Chase’s is a Treme neighborhood landmark and an important Civil Rights era meeting place. Leah Chase is most definitely the Queen of Creole Cuisine, elevating, educating and preserving a style of cooking so indelible to the makeup of New Orleans. She’s cooked for presidents, and the art-filled dining room at the restaurant will make any guest feel like a dignitary.

Luke Winslow-King and Esther Rose

Blues guitarist and singer Luke Winslow-King makes music perfect for sitting on the veranda and enjoying another Old Fashioned. It’s no wonder that he’s partners with musician and fashion designer Esther Rose, who provides backup vocals and plays a mean washboard in his band. This perfectly hip pair can be seen around town with regular gigs at Three Muses on Frenchmen Street or at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter.

Esther Rose and Luke Winslow-King performing at French Quarter Fest.     Photo by Derek Bridges
Esther Rose and Luke Winslow-King performing at French Quarter Fest. (Photo by Derek Bridges)

Paul Broussard is a native New Orleanian, photographer, writer, and culture junkie. He regularly photographs for Visit New Orleans, Zatarain’s, and other great New Orleans brands, and his photography and writings have appeared in several national and international publications including Bon Appetit magazine and The Times-Picayune. He is the co-host of the long-running Stage & Screen radio on WTUL 91.5 FM.

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