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- August 07, 1989
- Vol. 32
- No. 6
After the Loving, Counting the Cost
The Best Part of Breaking Up Is...Well, There Isn't One, Even for the Rich and Privileged. As Daily Headlines Attest, It's High Season for Celebrity Splits like Dennis Rodman, Clint Eastwood, and Steven Spielberg
In addition to all that cash, there are fame's spoils to be divided: the vacations on private islands, prime seats at Lakers games, invitations to parties in the best Bel Air homes. Hollywood Wives author Jackie Collins recalls one discarded movie-star spouse who became so distraught at the abrupt halt in first-class treatment that "she actually sued for loss of celebrity status. Once divorced, she could no longer get a great table at a restaurant."
For some, settling the score is a question of conventional—if fabulous—alimony. For those whose liaisons did not include marriage vows, it may be a question of palimony. Now comes an even more bizarre weapon in the battle between the sexes. Reviving an antiquated legal notion, canny lawyers are crying, "Common law!" to prove their clients were really married and therefore entitled to compensation. Hollywood's latest such episode featured actor William Hurt, who found himself squirming in a courtroom last month as Sandra Jennings asserted that their years of cohabitation had made them man and wife.
Where celebrities tread, can mortals fail to follow? Poignant, confounding and convoluted, here are six state-of-the-art splits.
When Harry Left Sondra
"He's one of the most sensitive, gentlest men," Sondra once said of live-in mate Clint "with the most horrifying temper." Little did she suspect that the star with the ruthless screen image might someday turn on her with magnum force.
Locke, 45, was directing the thriller Impulse last April when she received a letter from Eastwood's attorney informing her that the locks on their Bel Air home had been changed. According to Locke, she then collapsed. When she recovered, she hired her own lawyer. "I couldn't believe that was all he had to say to me after 13 years," Locke said in court papers.
Sondra had a good deal more to say. She is asking for a $1.3 million share of the wealth amassed during the years they lived together, as well as the Bel Air estate and another house in the Hollywood Hills she claims Eastwood gave her. She also wants to know the whereabouts of her parrot, Putty, and her 1971 Mercedes.
It won't be the first romantic tariff for the 59-year-old former Mayor of Carmel. In 1980 he was reportedly ordered to pay ex-wife Maggie (mother of his children, Kyle, 21, and Alison, 17) $25 million—$1 million for each year of their marriage.
The affair that blossomed during 1977's The Gauntlet began to crumble, according to Locke, in 1986. "I began to sense some increasing tension in our relationship," she said in court papers. "I tried to speak to Clint...but he never wanted to."
As their private concerns became suddenly public, Eastwood's iron-jawed screen persona began to dissolve. Court papers revealed that Locke never divorced Gordon Anderson, a sculptor she married in 1969. Clint apparently not only knew about Gordon—with whom, Locke says, she never consummated a marriage—but was also aware Anderson occupied the Hollywood Hills house.
Among other allegations, Locke says that Eastwood persuaded her to have two abortions and a tubal ligation. But in his legal papers, Clint says he "adamantly denies and deeply resents" those charges.
Eastwood's reputation as a womanizer has been cited as a cause of the split "They all stray, sooner or later," says a woman who has been his friend for years. "I guess Clint just went too far, and Sondra put her foot down."
Other women are now the least of Locke's worries. "Sondra was there to nurture, guide, arrange his social schedule," says one of her pals. "But in 13 years, she grew up. She started being her own person, and he couldn't take it"
Many, however, wonder just how far that independent person can go without Clint Locke's directorial debut 1986's Ratboy, was a flop, and her outings as Clint's film sidekick cut short a serious acting career that had opened promisingly with 1968's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. "People have this fantasy that it's an easy ride if you know someone important" Locke once said. "My association [with Eastwood] may even work against me."
Only time will tell how much. "Hollywood is a very small town," reminds one Locke friend, "and Clint is a very powerful man."
The Spielbergs' Flop
The simple May 24 announcement marking the end of the 3½-year union of actress Amy Irving, 35, and producer Steven Spielberg, 41, was truly remarkable. For one thing, it signaled the division of one of Hollywood's largest fortunes. For another, the split lived up to its "amicable" billing: The weekend before the announcement, the couple were seen dining at an L.A. restaurant.
The couple's stormy relationship began in 1976, when they were introduced at a dinner party by director Brian DePalma. It wasn't until a decade later that they took the plunge into marriage. "At one point," says a friend, "they were on a plane to Japan to get married and they broke it off."
Rumors have circulated about Spielberg's attraction to his Temple of Doom star Kate Capshaw. But the divorce, says a friend, is not about infidelity, but the strains of filmmaking separations.
Easier to divide the spoils of those spellbinding film wars than to struggle for a united peace. When the divorce decision was reached, Spielberg reportedly gave Irving nearly $100 million. This may, some say, be more than half the money he grossed during their marriage—but not, perhaps, as much as Irving might have won in court. Her long-term relationship with Spielberg prior to their marriage would have allowed her to put in a bid for palimony as well.
But can either star alone achieve their once-united splendor? Together the couple boasted a lavishly refurbished house in Brentwood, a glass-walled Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan, a small adobe house in Santa Fe, the Dutch barn they moved from Pennsylvania to East Hampton, N.Y., and their showcase Pacific Palisades estate.
The couple have already agreed to share custody of 4-year-old Max. But weeks before the split, Amy made it clear that she wanted an identity beyond the home fires: "I started my career as the daughter of [theater director] Jules Irving. I don't want to finish it as the wife of Spielberg or the mother of Max."
For superstar Spielberg, divorce brings no career risk. As for Irving, who signed her June 27 divorce petition in a rounded, girlish hand, there is little doubt she will continue as an actress—albeit one with ample money to finance her own films.
Rebounding into Court
One day in June 1988, 24-year-old Annie Bakes accused her fiancé, basketball star Dennis Rodman, of infidelity. He denied it, but Annie thought it was all too typical of life in the NBA. "As long as the women had all the money they wanted," she says, "they just looked the other way."
Bakes, six months pregnant, continued to protest. Rodman, 28, the world champion Detroit Pistons' leading rebounder, became violent, she claims, and not for the first time. Bakes later stated in her complaint, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, that Rodman grabbed her hair and shoved her head into an empty bathtub in their West Bloomfield Hills, Mich., home.
As a result of that and other unsavory episodes—including, she says, one that resulted in a badly bruised jaw—Annie Bakes, who claims Rodman is the father of her nine-month-old daughter, Alexis Caitlin, is suing the man who never married her for $1 million, half of what she estimates he earned during their two years together. She's also asking for $7,700 in monthly temporary support, $5,000 to buy nursery furniture and a restraining order to keep the 6'8", 230-pounder at least a hundred yards from her Hollywood Hills home. "He makes $850,000 a year," she says, "and all I've gotten from him for the baby and me since I moved out is $1,000."
When news of Bakes's suit made Detroit headlines June 13, Pistons PR man Matt Dobek told reporters, "Dennis will handle this situation in the best possible manner.... He is still seeing the young lady. They are going to work this out."
In truth, there was never much hope of that. Bakes, a former model and cocktail waitress, had already taken the advice of her lawyer brother and hired famed palimony attorney Marvin Mitchelson. And Rodman's agent, Bill Pollock, had given a hint of the star's point of view. "Dennis Rodman's been playing pro basketball for three years," Pollock said. "And now some bimbo comes along and does this."
Bakes met Rodman at a Sacramento restaurant after a Pistons-Kings game in 1986. "He asked me to go back to his hotel room with him," she says. "But I told him I wasn't that kind of girl."
After what Bakes describes as a respectful, romantic courtship, she moved into his Michigan town house in June 1987.Very soon after, the couple were engaged. At first, she says, their relationship was idyllic. "Dennis was fun to be with. He has a great sense of humor. And he was gentle. He loved me."
But soon a friend began to tell her that other women were sitting in Rodman's guest seats while she went to Sacramento to visit her parents. "I would find as many as 50 women's names and telephone numbers written on scraps of paper in Dennis's clothes in a month," she says. "I'd come home and find brown hair on our pillows. He'd change the sheets, but my bedspread smelled like perfume." Still, Bakes lacked proof and Rodman denies any indiscretions.
Confrontation didn't end the problem. The litany of abuse cited in Bakes's lawsuit includes an alleged episode when Rodman "forced me to my knees and dragged me on my stomach down a flight of stairs." After another argument, which ended with Bakes "bleeding and crawling into the bathroom," she claims, "Dennis kept saying, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry.'"
Rodman stands to lose at least $850,000 if a jury rules against him. But for Annie Bakes, there is the pathetic hope that the man she still loves will change. "Maybe some day," she says wistfully, "Dennis will understand that any other women are just flings."
A Long Goodbye
The fastest way to get Alana Stewart's dander up is to accuse her of champagne tastes at rocker Rod's expense. Now decked out in jeans and sneakers, the woman once dubbed "the Baroness of Brentwood" might be excused the fit of pique: Five years after the de facto end of their five-year marriage, the two still haven't dotted the i on their divorce.
The Stewarts' predicament tells something about the complexity of such high-visibility splits. Even when relatively amicable, the negotiations can take on a life of their own. "We just haven't forced the issue," says Alana, 42, explaining the lag in paperwork. "It's easier for us to go along fairly friendly and not deal with it."
The 1984 breakup was hastened by Rod's public squiring of model Kelly Emberg—still his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter Ruby, 2. Stewart, whose fortune then included $30 million in cash and a Malibu beach house, agreed to allow Alana and their two kids, Sean, 8, and Kimberly, 9, to live in their $12 million Bel Air estate until she found an equally suitable place. In 1987, still legally wed, she moved to Brentwood.
Alana's 1976 split from actor George Hamilton, after a four-year marriage that produced son Ashley, 14, was far less problematic. Her total legal bill, she says, was $750, and her alimony was a relatively paltry $2,500 a month. "George and I sat down over a hamburger and worked out something comfortable."
Rod, however, was already accustomed to paying romantic reparations. In 1977, Britt Ekland, his girlfriend of 2½ years, filed a $15 million palimony suit; Stewart settled soon after, forking over $500,000 in property.
Small wonder that in 1979 he presented Alana with a prenuptial agreement. Alana, four months pregnant at the time, now regrets the signature. "It's different with Rod," she argues. "I'm older, and it's harder to start over."
As the couple head toward their sixth year of negotiations, their divorce threatens to become the Bleak House of Hollywood partings. For now, Alana scrapes by on an interim allowance—$25,000 per month. "If you go to the grocery store," she says, "the prices are outrageous.
"It would be a load off my mind," she adds, expressing a sentiment her ex must share, "to get the whole thing settled."
An Uncommon Marriage
There may have been a time when Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield thought that not marrying longtime girlfriend Sandra Renfro, the mother of his 6-year-old daughter Shanel, would keep him a free agent. No longer. On Jan. 31, 1985, two years after they parted company, Renfro, now 34, filed suit in Houston, alleging that what she shared with the millionaire ballplayer from 1982 to 1983 was a marriage in common law.
Her argument was strong enough to sway a Texas jury, which on June 28 ruled that Winfield's relationship with the flight attendant was a bona fide common-law marriage—even though Winfield, 37, wed Tonya Turner, a Xerox regional manager, in February 1988. That court decision will now cost him $13,500 a month in temporary alimony and child support, $210,000 for Renfro's legal bills, a $3,000 dental bill and $21,129 for half the upkeep of Winfield's $130,000 Houston condo, which they shared until six years ago, and in which he allowed her to stay with the child.
Even before the court decision, Winfield, who earns a yearly $14 million from his Yankees contract and more from his ownership of seven Burger King franchises, had been paying $1,400 a month in child support. "I've always taken care of my child," said the sports hero who had acknowledged Shanel's paternity and signed her birth certificate, "but I contend I was never married to the lady."
Renfro, obviously, disagreed. "I told him on Valentine's Day 1982 that I was pregnant," she says, "and he said, 'Whatever you want to do, I will be with you, no matter what.'"
Ultimately, Winfield stands to lose half of the money he earned during their union, a situation that galls his attorney, Tom Alexander. "I expect a lot of children were fathered by Ty Cobb's generation," he says, ruminating on the rise of nonmarital settlements. "But nobody wanted half of $6,000 a year."
The judge's monetary ruling is not expected until all appeals have been exhausted, but Renfro's attorney, Earle Lilly, expects his client to become a millionaire. Sandra is also optimistic, though perhaps not thinking as grandly. "Now," she says, "I don't have to worry about getting the air conditioner fixed."
Will Jane Share Her Wealth?
When he married Jane Fonda back in 1973, some two years after meeting her at an antiwar rally, Tom Hayden reportedly refused to sign a prenuptial agreement with his wealthy intended. "It offended his sensibilities," says a friend. But now, as their 16-year marriage nears what may become a bitter end, more than sensibilities are at stake. Under California's joint property law, Hayden could snap up half of Fonda's estimated $60 million fortune.
The Hayden-Fonda marriage was proof that a Hollywood wife doesn't necessarily take a breadwinning back seat. A hefty chunk of Jane Fonda's Workout series went toward financing Hayden's campaigns for state assembly. Compared with her multimillion-dollar film and video career, his government salary of $40,816 a year is a mere pittance.
"I see what problem women have being married to somebody who's always introduced first, makes more money and has more clout," Hayden once said, laughing. But politically, being Mr. Jane Fonda was no joke. On the campaign trail, Jane's charisma was worth more than her contribution in gold.
Still, over the years, the two seemed to manage their lopsided blend of high-style Hollywood and liberal politics surprisingly well. Hayden, 49, flew home from the Sacramento assembly nearly every night. Together in L.A., the couple kept up a glittering calendar that once led Hayden to comment, "If Jane and I have an evening at home alone, it is a scheduling mistake by the staff."
In more recent months, the two rarely had the option of an evening at home, as Jane, 51, headed for Mexico to film Old Gringo and Connecticut and Canada to make Stanley and Iris. Even so, few were prepared for their Feb. 16 separation, or for the later reports of a liaison between Hayden and former Dukakis speech writer Vicky Rideout, 32.
At the moment, Jane and Tom are still in the separation stage. If a divorce occurs—which friends expect—there are considerable assets to divide (despite their modest life-style): their estimated $2.5 million Santa Monica home, where Jane lives with son Troy, 16 (her daughter by director Roger Vadim, Vanessa, 20, attends Brown University); a rustic ranch overlooking Santa Barbara; a prize Arabian stallion.
Will Tom take Jane's money? As he considers a pricey run for state insurance commissioner, "it would be a lot easier if his wife were providing the millions," says Joseph Cerrell, a well-known political analyst.
For 16 years, her commitment to his dreams—and his to hers—went unquestioned. But if their marriage once seemed charmed to outsiders, Fonda herself was never so deceived. Asked in 1987 for the secrets of their marital success, Jane replied, "I don't know. It's hard. I think we're understanding of each other. We respect each other's work.... We try to take good vacations. Tom and I go out to dinner, just the two of us." And then she added, poignantly, "I drive around and see these very old couples walking along holding hands. I keep thinking we'll be like that when we're old. Then I think, 'Will we?'"
—Susan Schindehette, Robin Micheli, Vicki Sheff, Jacqueline Savaiano, Dan Knapp and Doris Bacon in Los Angeles, Kent Demaret in Houston, Liz McNeil and Dianna Waggoner in San Francisco
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