Winning Time: How Many Times Was Jerry Buss Married? Is Honey Kaplan Based on a Real Person?

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ is a sports drama series about the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team of the 1980s, as they established an era of dominance in the NBA under owner Jerry Buss. The series also sheds some light on Buss’ personal life, especially his colorful dating experiences. In the second season, viewers are introduced to Honey Kaplan, a former girlfriend of Buss. Eventually, Buss and Honey rekindle their romance and tie the knot, raising questions over the real-life Jerry Buss’ married life. If you are wondering how many times Jerry Buss was married and if Honey Kaplan is based on a real person, here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

How Many Times Was Jerry Buss Married?

Born on January 27, 1933, Gerald Hatten “Jerry” Buss was a businessman best known for his tenure as the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, which competes in the NBA. Buss purchased the team from Jack Kent Cooke at the start of the 1979-80 NBA season. As a result of his association with the Lakers, Buss’ personal life was subject to media attention, especially his dating and married life. A fictionalized version of Jerry Buss appears in the HBO series ‘Winning Time,’ which highlights Buss’ dating life in the 1980s, especially his playboy persona during his time as the Lakers’ owner. However, when Buss took ownership of the Lakers, his first marriage had already ended. In 1952, Buss married JoAnn Mueller, and their marriage lasted for nearly two decades before they separated in 1972.

Image Credit: Find a Grave/The Chronicler

Buss then dated and allegedly married his girlfriend, Veronica Hoff. As per reports, the couple tied the knot in Tijuana, Mexico, on September 6, 1972, allegedly while Buss was still married to his first wife, Mueller. Hoff passed away on January 4, 2012, in Las Vegas. According to an obituary posted in honor of Hoff, she was legally married to Buss at one point in time until their separation in December 1982. In the 1980s, Buss started dating Karen Demel, and they reportedly lived together and had two children. Some reports suggest that Buss and Karen separated in 1992. However, there is no confirmation on whether Buss and Karen were actually married to each other. According to an obituary published by the New York Times following Buss’ death in February 2013, JoAnn Mueller is referenced as Buss’ only wife, while Demel is mentioned as a girlfriend.

Is Honey Kaplan Based on a Real Person?

Honey Kaplan is introduced in the second season of ‘Winning Time,’ with actress Ari Graynor playing the role in a recurring capacity. Graynor made her television debut in the recurring role of Caitlin Rucker in the crime drama series ‘The Sopranos‘ She made her film debut with the 2003 neo-noir crime drama ‘Mystic River.’ Graynor gained recognition for her performance as ‘Mrs. America,’ ‘Fringe,’ and ‘I’m Dying Up Here.’ In ‘Winning Time,’ Graynor’s Honey Kaplan serves as a love interest for Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly).

In the second season, Honey and Buss rekindle their romance, having dated each other briefly nearly fifteen years ago. The fifth episode of season 2 sees Buss and Honey tying the knot as the Lakers make it to the 1982 NBA Finals. Honey Kaplan is not directly based on any single real person. However, her storyline in the series suggests that Honey is a composite character crafted by using several of Jerry Buss’ real-life love interests as an example. Given the timeline of Honey and Buss’ relationship in the show, Karen Demel seems like the most obvious inspiration for the fictional character. Moreover, since Buss had more children who are yet to appear in the show, Honey can serve a role similar to the one Demel served in Buss’ real life.

Meanwhile, Buss reportedly also dated Marsha Lee Osborne, aka Puppi Buss. Jerry Buss and Puppi Buss reportedly had an on-off relationship for almost fifteen years. Puppi also filed a palimony suit against Buss, alleging that the latter had fathered a son with her. The case was settled outside the court. However, the complex relationship between Buss and Puppi could also inspire Honey’s character and future storylines in the show. Ultimately, Honey Kaplan is a fictional character loosely inspired by several of Jerry Buss’ real-life interests, allowing the show’s makers to tell a free-flowing narrative without being bound to facts and reality.

Read More: Where is Jerry Buss’ Daughter Jeanie Buss Now?