“Law & Order” fans may think that Christopher Meloni’s “partner” is co-star Mariska Hargitay, but production designer/artist Sherman Williams is the real deal.
On the occasion of their 26th anniversary back in the summer of 2021, actor Christopher Meloni posted an Instagram tribute to his wife Sherman Williams that included a picture of their 1995 Medieval-themed wedding on a beach in Malibu and the delightful if slightly cryptic caption, “How is started…how it’s goin. 26 years of…well…it’s hard to explain.” The past is hashtagged #partnerincrime and #keepingitweird.
Perhaps a marriage that endures a spectacular 26 years (now 27!) in Hollywood can rightfully be considered weird, but that Meloni considers his wife Sherman Williams to be his true partner-in-crime seems like an appropriately endearing sentiment for the Law and Order SVU star.
Christopher Meloni Met Sherman Williams On-Set in 1989
Meloni, of course, is a veteran of television’s enduring Law & Order crime drama franchise, specifically Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where he portrays Detective Elliott Stabler. He created the character in 1999 alongside his co-star and other partner-in-crime Mariska Hargitay (maybe she should be considered a “partner-in-law”), who portrays fellow detective Olivia Benson on the show. But now is the time to talk about real-life partners…
Meloni’s relationship with Sherman Williams (technically, it’s Doris Sherman Williams, but Sherman is her preferred name) goes back to 1989, when Sherman rode her motorcycle onto the set of a 1989 HBO series that the then up-and-coming actor Meloni was working on. Sporting short, bleached blonde hair and retro sunglasses, Sherman made an indelible first impression on her future husband, who recalled looking at her, digging her independent spirit, and thinking, “This I gotta meet.”
At the time, Sherman was working in Hollywood as a production designer and art director whose credits include Platoon, The Dark Backward, Pyrates, and The Locusts.
Meloni and Sherman were both in relationships when they first met, but within a few years, the two began dating.
They were married in 1995 (reportedly, they drank a few tequila shots to celebrate their big day before Sherman left for the airport for a job in Miami) and later had two children through surrogacy, daughter Sophia Eva Pietra in 2001 and son Dante Amadeo in 2004. Sophia’s godmother is Meloni’s other aforementioned partner–and his TV bestie—Mariska Hargitay!
Is Mariska Hargitay Considered Chris Meloni’s Second Wife?
And speaking of Mariska, as the years have passed, she and Meloni have grown so familiar and comfortable together as an on-screen detective team that a sizable number of viewers often think that the pair are an actual romantic couple. Or that they should be a couple. Or, at the very least, their TV characters should be a couple!
Audiences are so convinced that the two are a marital team that Mariska was at one point dubbed Meloni’s “second wife” on Meloni’s Wikipedia page, a “fact” that has since been deleted.
“That is awesome. It’s kind of right in a way, isn’t it?,” said Mariska when informed of the online snafu.
“I mean, I don’t think I’ll be marrying him any time soon, but I am kind of like his second wife,” she reasoned. “Wife, therapist, bestie, sister, mother.”
Meloni also similarly acknowledged “the fandom goes nuts” over his onscreen relationship with Hargitay.
“I think the uber fans literally want our spouses to go away,” he said.
That kind of buzzy talk has grown over the past year since Meloni returned to the Law & Order franchise following a 10-year absence—he left SVU in 2011 following the show’s 12th season.
Sherman and Meloni Celebrated Their Big Day With Tequila
As it played out, Meloni departed from the series after his character retired from the police force following a self-defense shooting in the Season 12 finale.
According to Meloni, he left SVU because he was seeking “new adventures.”
“I left with zero animosity, but I did leave clearly and open-eyed in going forward,” Meloni said.
“I had done the Law & Order way of storytelling, which they do really well, and I was interested in telling stories from a different angle—whether comedic or inhabiting a new world or doing it on different platforms,” he added.
After departing SVU, Meloni went on to appear in a variety of TV shows, including The Handmaid’s Tale, VEEP, Pose, Maxxx, and Wet Hot American Summer, as well as the theatrical films Sin City: A Dame to Die For, They Came Together, 42 and The Diary of a Teenage Girl, among others
But Law & Order came knocking on his door again several years later in the form of a call from the franchise’s creator Dick Wolf, who wanted Meloni to return as Elliott Stabler on a spin-off series that would revolve around his character seeking to avenge his wife’s murder by the Mafia. Law & Order: Organized Crime would also feature recurring appearances by SVU’s Hargitay, and Meloni would also pop on SVU in cross-over episodes.
“I was like, ‘Oh, really? OK.’ I was shocked. I never thought this was going to happen, but the circumstances for me changed,” said Meloni. “So ‘yes’ became the correct answer.”
Sherman Williams Now Has a Career as a Portrait Artist
And just like that, Meloni returned and he and TV “wife” Mariska Hargitay are teaming up once again to crack down on New York City’s most nefarious criminals.
These days, Meloni is acting up a storm in his two Law & Order gigs and working as a voiceover performer in the animated series American Dad!, Harley Quinn and Solar Opposites. Meanwhile, Sherman moved on from her 14-year vocation as an art director and production designer to a career as an artist specializing in oil paint portraits. Two of her commissions include striking depictions of the actors Mario Cantone and Joe Pantoliano.
The “kids,” Sophia and Dante are now 21 and 18, respectively.
And as for the long-lasting relationship she has enjoyed with husband Christopher Meloni, Williams says their formula relies on “Space, respect, trust, and freedom,” adding that “We just like each other…we laugh a lot.”