The Wife of Hotel's James Brolin Balks at Playing Villain in Their Messy Divorce
10/13/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT
It sure looked tike an official wedding. There, at the altar of Greenwood United Church in Nova Scotia, stood 46-year-old actor James (Hotel) Brolin. At his side, wearing an ivory gown, stood his intended—37-year-old actress Jan (WKRP) Smithers. The minister smiled benignly as the two exchanged vows. But the June ceremony was merely symbolic, a coming attraction for the benefit of the lovers and their families. Brolin is already married—and has been for 20 years—to Jane Cameron Agee Brolin, 46, and the matter of a divorce has proved to be bitter enough to qualify for an episode in Hotel.
No matter what you've heard—that she's been obstructing the divorce—Jane claims she's not the heavy. "Everyone hates me for standing in the way," she says. "But I haven't stood in the way of anything. Somehow things got turned around to make me the bad person and not Jan. She's the other woman." Even though Brolin refuses to comment, in the public relations war of divorce Hollywood-style, he has the edge on Jane. "Jim has come out on top in everything," she says. "And it's because he's the celebrity. I feel like I've been thrown away."
When they were married back in 1966, the positions were reversed. Brolin was a virtual unknown, and Jane an assistant casting director. Jane, in fact, helped arrange the 1968 interview that led to Brolin's first major TV role, that of Dr. Steven Kiley on Marcus Welby, M.D. He stayed with the series for seven years and, materially at least, he and Jane had the good life. They bought several ranches, including a 10,000-square-foot hunting lodge in Montecito, an affluent suburb of Santa Barbara. Jane quit her job and stayed home to take care of their boys, Josh, now 18, and Jess, 14.
Brolin spent much of his time doing TV and features (The Amityville Horror), and eventually "we started going our own ways," says Jane. "I think he was running around a lot." Jane shrugs that off as just one of celebrity's pitfalls. "I would never have left him just because he had an affair," she says.
Brolin met Jan Smithers on the set of Hotel when she did a guest shot in December 1983. Jane claims that Jan refused to continue dating Brolin so long as he remained married. About two months later Brolin moved out of their Montecito digs. "I thought we'd be together forever," says Jane. "But I guess if someone is telling him he's wonderful and I'm telling him to take out the garbage, he'll end up with the one who's telling him he's wonderful."
It was last New Year's Eve when Jane learned that Brolin was filing for divorce. She heard it on the radio. "I felt terrible," she says. "At least he could have called." Then she learned of the mock wedding in Nova Scotia. "I was embarrassed to death," she says—and so angry that she went out and hired divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, celebrity bomber extraordinaire. That enraged Brolin and, says Jane, he hasn't spoken to her since—except through his attorney, Howard Weitzman, who successfully defended John De Lorean on cocaine charges. Weitzman says the divorce should be final soon, though property and child care issues may not be settled for a while.
For the moment Jane lives alone in the big house in Montecito. An animal lover, she has three pumas, two wolves and one cheetah to keep her company. "It's lonely here," she says. "I know a lot of women who have been married to celebrities, and they want to hold on to their houses." Not Jane. "I want a nice little house. I don't need anything big."
Still, it must be comforting to Jane to know that soon she will be able to afford a nice little palace. Under California law, she figures to get half of Brolin's net worth, which is estimated by Mitchelson to be $5 million. She's worried that the equitable distribution laws won't apply to friends and associates. Already, the business manager she shared with Brolin has dropped her as a client. "Everyone goes with the one who has money," says Jane.
"All this is preventing me from getting on with my own life," she adds. It hasn't, however, prevented her from finding a boyfriend, Glen Stough. They met over a citizens band radio in 1984. He asked to have a cup of coffee with her, and she agreed. When she saw him, Jane says, "I almost fainted. He looks almost exactly like Jim." While he may have Hollywood good looks, he doesn't have Hollywood status, and that is fine with Jane. "He's a sweet guy; he's a truck driver," says Jane, who won't even consider another celebrity marriage. "Never," she says emphatically, "never."