L.A. Law's Harry Hamlin and Wife Laura Johnson Take Their Case to Divorce Court

updated 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

They met in 1984 at the beginning of his Broadway run in Awake and Sing!, and soon after, romance bloomed. "It was just about to be spring," he would recall. "The birds were just beginning to chirp again." He swept her off for a wildly romantic trip to Bora Bora, made "a little hut for us on the beach," and one day when their speedboat's engine died, repaired its ailing motor with a Band-Aid. "I thought," she would later say, "this is the man I'm gonna stay with."

Five years later, the storybook Hollywood marriage of Harry Hamlin, 38, the litigating heartthrob of L.A. Law, and Laura Johnson, 33, formerly of Falcon Crest, had nearly sunk, after a bruising divorce skirmish that will take more than Band-Aids to heal. In September, Hamlin, who is linked with Knots Landing's resident tease, Nicollette Sheridan, 26, filed for divorce from Johnson, citing irreconcilable differences. But only recently did it become clear just how different those differences were. In court papers containing some of the most vitriolic marital invective in recent Hollywood memory, Johnson alleges that Hamlin, in the months since filing for divorce, emotionally abused and harassed her, interfered with her acting career and called her "a slut" and "a whore." For his part, Hamlin has insisted that "I have made every effort to conduct myself honorably...throughout these proceedings."

Despite an income of $189,500 from her own production company and residuals, Johnson requested $15,000 a month in spousal support (including $1.000 for clothes and $500 pin money for "facials and hair") from Hamlin's estimated $1.3 million annual take. In addition, she petitioned for "exclusive occupancy" of the family house, a $2.1 million mansion that the couple had temporarily agreed to share, so long as "neither of us would bring overnight guests...to the home."

Despite that shaky live-in truce, Johnson's deposition claims that their once idyllic romance had degenerated into a real-life War of the Roses. In October, she charges, as she was leaving the house, "Harry yelled at me saying, 'You are a slut, a whore, you have been f——-g around for years, and I'm going to tell everyone in the industry what kind of a person you really are.' "

Last November, while Johnson was on the phone with her agent, Hamlin, "who had been hiding in my closet, came out, walked across my room, and called me an a—h—-," she claims. In December, he "accosted" a producer who was visiting her and said, "This is the first Christmas that Laurie has been sober enough to decorate a tree," charging that she "is 100 percent responsible for destroying my life; she is a monster and a shrew."

In addition, says Johnson, Hamlin refused to complete renovations in progress at the mansion, failed to maintain the yard, kept a loaded shotgun in the house, neglected the family pets, and even removed "attractive terra-cotta planters" from the estate, although, she reported, "the plants have been left."

But the final straw came on Jan. 8, she alleges, when she discovered that Sheridan had been in her bedroom, bath and closets while she was out of town. "When I confronted Harry about this," she says, "he said, 'I have no control over Nicollette when she is in this house. If she wants to go into your bedroom, I can't stop her.' " Instead of attempting "to calm me down...Harry even took out a tape recorder to try to record my emotional breakdown."

Hamlin, who has kept up his courtship of Sheridan, escorting her to last week's People's Choice Awards, has issued no further comment about his travails. At the same time, Johnson, who briefly dated actor Ray Liotta last fall, was suddenly making anti-inflammatory noises. Through a publicist, Johnson said she and Hamlin "have reached a complete agreement dealing with all matters relating to their divorce." Without disclosing details, she said, "There were private matters which Harry could have made public, which would have been upsetting to me...and I appreciate and respect his integrity for keeping private matters private." After the scandalous airing of the couple's linen, Hamlin, no doubt, wishes his soon-to-be-ex had done the same.

—Susan Schindehette, Eleanor Hoover in Los Angeles

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