Some Famous Pairs Follow the Song's Advice: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
Frost on the bloom
David Frost's engagements to singer Diahann Carroll and model Karen Graham fizzled before the final vows, but the protean TV showman bounced back last year by marrying Lynne Frederick, 27, a former flame and the six-month widow of Peter Sellers. Lynne, however, found that accompanying Frost on the showbiz cocktail party circuit was "an odious chore" and complained about the paucity of private moments with her workaholic husband. Last month the couple wrapped their 17-month marriage by getting a Swiss divorce. Frederick has insisted that she and Frost, 43, remain close nonetheless—so close that Lynne, who suffered a miscarriage in March, hasn't ruled out having a child with her ex. "I desperately want to be a mother," she explained.
Breach on the Beach
Beach Boy Dennis Wilson is pickin' up bad vibrations from his estranged wife, Karen Lamm, a television-commercial actress from whom he split after just two weeks of wedded bliss in July 1978 (their first marriage, in 1976, ended after seven months). The singer-songwriter, already in financial deep water with $2,600-a-month child support payments from a still earlier marriage, is now battling Lamm in court over a property settlement. He's citing $538,000 in debts and claiming that he and Lamm weren't together long enough to warrant a financial settlement. Among her demands: $10,000 a month in support and one-half interest in Wilson's 1978 Rolls-Royce, the Santa Barbara real estate and his prized 68-foot ketch named, of all things, The Harmony.
"This is terrible—Annette Funicello has grown up!" lamented Peanuts' blanket-clutching Linus on the fateful day in January 1965 when the former Mouseketeer wed film agent Jack Gilardi. Now there's a further shock for middle-aging Mickey Mouse Club fans: Funicello, 39, has separated from her husband and is raising her three children alone in Encino, Calif. "I think it was the professional demands that were the roughest things in our marriage," apologized Gilardi, 48, in his postmortem. "Maybe I gave too much to my work." Despite the separation, Gilardi, who represents such stars as Telly Savalas and Jaclyn Smith, remains Annette's agent (she's still looking at film scripts and making Skippy peanut butter commercials). And for now, anyway, the Catholic couple do not plan to file for divorce.
She's earned millions as Hollywood's Queen of the Tattletongues—but last week Rona Barrett, 45, became the subject of some juicy gossip herself by filing for divorce from William Trowbridge, 53. Their eight-year marriage hit the skids initially in 1981. The pair reconciled in January, but after a brief European vacation together in April, they bid each other a final adieu. In her suit, Barrett cited "irreconcilable differences" which, friends say, stem in part from the cancellation of her shortlived flop, Television: Inside and Out, which NBC pulled after five programs.
One on the isle
The 29-year marriage of actress Patricia Neal, 56, and children's author Roald Dahl, 65, survived the death of one child from measles as well as a 1965 stroke that left Neal paralyzed and unable to speak for several weeks. Although Dahl's devoted care helped guide his wife to a miraculous recovery, last year the Welsh-born writer noted that "people tire of being with each other for years day in and day out. They need some time away from each other." Neal now lives apart from her husband on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Says an island friend: "Her tie is here now."
They'd only just begun
"He's just the type of guy I was looking for. He's strong and at the same time gentle, and he gets along fabulously with my family," confided singer Karen Carpenter at her 1980 wedding to Tom Burris, then a member of Ronald Reagan's campaign finance committee. After less than two years Carpenter, 32, and Burris, 41, are singing Close to You no longer. Since their recent separation, Burris has been tending to his California real estate business while Carpenter, a friend allows, is "doing fine" dividing her time between her New York and L.A. homes and recording a new album with her singing sibling, Richard.
Winging it alone
Sir Freddie Laker's Skytrain isn't the only one of his ventures to be grounded this year. The flamboyant airline tycoon, whose low-fare transatlantic air service skidded off the runway in February with $500 million in debts, was divorced last month from his American-born wife, Patricia, 43. She claimed in London's High Court that Freddie's extramarital stopovers with an unnamed woman had made their marriage "intolerable." Admitting that "my business has played havoc with my personal life," 59-year-old Freddie has been flying solo since last year, when Lady Laker bolted to Key Biscayne, Fla. with the couple's 4-year-old son, "Little Fred." "I've been married three times," he lamented soon after her unscheduled takeoff, "and I'll admit I haven't made a wonderful job of it."
An author unbound
With the film version of The World According to Garp due this month and a $2.3 million paperback deal closed on Hotel New Hampshire, life has been moving smoothly for novelist John Irving, 40. Except, that is, for his 18-year marriage. "We've gone our separate ways," reports wife Shyla, 39, conceding that John's sudden fame "may have had some negative impact on our marriage." Shyla, a professional photographer, insists that "there's no bitterness involved in John's recent filing for separation" and has holed up in their Putney, Vt. home to work on her first novel. "It's about dissolutions and divisions," she reveals, and "I probably would not be writing it if I were still with John." Irving, meanwhile, divides his time between a Hamptons beach house and a Manhattan apartment. Says Shyla, "He's writing, and I think he's happy."
Playing the field
After two and a half years with former L.A. Rams safety Jeff Severson, Three's Company star Jenilee Harrison decided this April that two was a crowd. "I don't know if it was because of him or me, but I wanted to be free," says Jenilee, 23, whose romance with Severson began when she was still a Rams cheerleader. Diverging schedules and careers (Severson, 32, is now in real estate) appear partly responsible for the breakup. "I'd take the frustrations of the day out on him," she admits. Although her romantic life is temporarily sidelined, Jenilee says that Jeff is "still my biggest supporter"—and she hasn't ruled out the possibility of a rematch.
Richard Pryor may be Some Kind of Hero, but he's apparently no kind of husband. Just three months after his idyllic wedding on Maui to aspiring actress and songwriter Jennifer Lee, 30, the tide ran out on his marriage. Richard, 41, sued for divorce in Hawaii Circuit Court last November, and four months later Jennifer countersued in Los Angeles citing "irreconcilable differences" and demanding "spousal support, property rights and attorney's fees." Pryor, recovered from his near-fatal self-immolation in 1980, may not be hurt financially, at least, by this latest split (he's keeping mum, but it may be his sixth). Pryor, banking on a pre-nuptial agreement to protect his assets, retreated to Baton Rouge, La., where he has just finished filming The Toy, and found solace from Hero co-star Margot Kidder.
War of the Walds
I Don't Know How to Love Him complained Helen Reddy in a 1971 hit single, and last week Reddy, 40, sang a similar tune in L.A. divorce court by filing suit against husband-manager of 14 years Jeff Wald. An admitted former cocaine user who had been Reddy-whipped once before (she filed for divorce last year but rescinded after 24 hours), Wald won an acquittal after his arrest in 1980 for brandishing a shotgun in the Sahara Tahoe parking lot. "I think the breakup was due to a clash of strong personalities," confided a close friend of both, admitting that many find the 39-year-old Wald—who'll probably continue as Reddy's manager—"intimidating."
For five years Lynda (Wonder Woman) Carter and supermanager husband Ron Samuels have been one of Hollywood's inseparable couples. But now Carter, 31, has escaped hubby's clutches and filed for divorce, demanding of him half of their $80,000 cash assets plus community property and spousal support. "Sometimes people like to feel in charge of their own lives," explains a close friend of both, dismissing speculation about religious conflict between born-again Christian Carter and her Jewish husband. As a single, Carter headed for Las Vegas to pursue her singing career, while Samuels, 39, can't seem to break out of his losing streak: His latest business client, Victoria Principal, canned him two weeks ago.
This story was reported by Karen G. Jackovich and David Wallace in Los Angeles and Gail Jennes and Jon Keller in Boston.