On a recent hot, sunny California afternoon, George Hamilton and Alana Stewart went for a walk in their hilly Beverly Hills neighborhood. “Maybe I could have done this back when I first married you,” George huffed up an incline. Alana, who was recording their adventure, giggled. “Whew. Shall we set up camp here?” he joked by the side of the road.

They’ve been divorced from each other for 47 years, but George and Alana still make the cutest couple. The pair, who have one adult son together, are closer today than many spouses. In fact, they’ve discussed remarrying but admit they are happy the way things are. “In retrospect, our relationship has been just as good,” says George, 83.

Alana, 77, admits that not being married works for them. “I know the secret [of happiness] — we do not live together,” she confides. “The other thing, truthfully, is he has always made me laugh and I think I make him laugh, and that is the most important thing.”

The couple met in Acapulco in 1968 when George was one of MGM’s young heartthrobs and Alana was modeling. It was not love at first sight. “We instantly disliked each other. I thought she was a snooty model, and she thought I was a crazy playboy,” recalls George, who fell under Alana’s spell anyway. “I reached over and pinched her. She slapped me. We started going out.”

They wed in Las Vegas in 1972, with Elvis Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker as best man and Alana’s dog as a witness. When they parted three years later, George still insisted that Alana was his “best friend.” The Texas-reared beauty received custody of their 4-year-old son, alimony and one of their three Rolls-Royces in the split. Somehow, even the messiness of divorce didn’t cool their ardor for each other. “You start with the divorce, and then you think, ‘Jesus, there is something I am missing today,’ and then you realize it is your ex-wife,” admits George.

Alana says that taking some time off from the relationship helped, although they always kept the lines of communication open. “The most important thing when you have a divorce is to stay friends,” she says. “You just have to remember what you loved about the person and remember the positives, not the negatives, and you have to move forward. The most important thing in life is friendship, love and caring about other people.”

George Hamilton, Alana Stewart 'Partners for Life' After Divorce
Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Today, their relationship is rare and enviable. “George and Alana are a couple. They’re best friends, they’re in love, they’re divorced, and they are partners for life,” shares a friend. “In a lot of ways, they are the most romantic couple we know.”

In addition to their son, Ashley, 48, Alana has two other children, Kimberly, 43, and Sean, 42, from her marriage to rocker Rod Stewart. Both of her younger children look to George as a stepdad. George also has a son, George Jr., 23, from another relationship. “The truth is after all these years, we are like family,” Alana says.

She and George speak by phone most days, visit each other’s homes and go out for dinner often — although Alana does the driving now. “I am always late,” admits George. Alana notes that they are in it for the long haul. “I have his back,” she says, “and I know he has mine.”