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William Hurt’s Mistress Wanted to Divorce Him - But Firstly She Had to Prove They Were Married

Busayo Ogunjimi
Oct 24, 2021
03:30 P.M.
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William Hurt was the TV darling of female fans back in the 1980s. However, behind the set, his personal life was anything but perfect. Read on to find out how his mistress wanted to divorce him.

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Hurt, who is 6ft 2 with blue eyes, was one of TV's biggest stars in the 80s. He was also once named one of the sexiest men alive by Playboy magazine.

He has appeared in movies such as "Body Heat," "Gorky Park," and "The Big Chill." He played an airhead anchorman in "Broadcast News" and won an Oscar for his performance in "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

William Hurt during The Spencer Tracy Award to William Hurt on April 27, 1988 in Westwood, California [left]. William Hurt and ex-wife Heidi Henderson at the 78th Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre [right]  | Photo: Getty Images

William Hurt during The Spencer Tracy Award to William Hurt on April 27, 1988 in Westwood, California [left]. William Hurt and ex-wife Heidi Henderson at the 78th Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre [right] | Photo: Getty Images

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WILLIAM HURT'S DIVORCE DRAMA

Hurt's first marriage was to Mary Beth Hurt, an actress. Their marriage ended in 1982, after seven years. At the time, the actor was living with Sandra Jennings, who was already pregnant.

Hurt and Jennings met in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 1981, where he was about to appear in a play, and Jennings was performing with the New York City Ballet. She left her 8-year-old ballet career when she became pregnant.

Jennings, who was eight and a half months pregnant, moved into Hurt's rented apartment in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he was filming "The Big Chill." She later gave birth to their son Alexander Devon Hurt.

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Actor William Hurt at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California  |  Photo: Getty Images

Actor William Hurt at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Things took a bad turn, though, when Jennings left the actor in 1984 after three and a half years of living with him.

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She accused the actor of verbally and physically abusing her. She claimed Hurt once slapped her while she held their son, Alexander, who was five years old at the time. She also claimed he once came home drunk and urinated on the couch.

Jennings tried to file for divorce but was told she had to prove she was legally married to Hurt before proceedings could begin. She claimed the actor promised her undying love.

Actor William Hurt attends the 2013 Skin Cancer Foundation gala at The Plaza Hotel on October 15, 2013 in New York City  | Photo: Getty Images

Actor William Hurt attends the 2013 Skin Cancer Foundation gala at The Plaza Hotel on October 15, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Even though a marriage never occurred between the two, Jennings claimed that her position rose to that of a wife during the time they lived together. She said her claims stood according to a law of marriage in South Carolina.

Hurt was paying her $2,000 monthly allowance. He was also funding the maintenance of her New York apartment, Alexander's school, medical expenses, and paying her Visa charge card to foot her bills.

She claims the allowance left her destitute, which was why she filed for divorce to get a share of Hurt's assets which was estimated to be around $10 million in 1989.

Actor William Hurt attends the premiere of Science Channel's The Challenger Disaster at the Times Center on November 14, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Actor William Hurt attends the premiere of Science Channel's The Challenger Disaster at the Times Center on November 14, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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The Justice of the State Supreme Court, Jacqueline Silbermann, admitted that Jennings's chances of winning the case are questionable. She explained that South Carolina does not automatically recognize two people living together as a common-law marriage.

She also said if a relationship is unlawful at its inception, the law believes it remains so. As stated in South Carolina law, a common marriage cannot occur if one of the parties is already married.

Even though Jennings and Hurt started living together on October 31, 1982, the actor was still married to his first wife, Mary. His divorce became official on December 9, 1982, and he didn't know until six days later.

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William Hurt attends the "Bonnie And Clyde" series premiere at The McKittrick Hotel on December 2, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

William Hurt attends the "Bonnie And Clyde" series premiere at The McKittrick Hotel on December 2, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

Jennings could only legally prove her case from the divorce date until January 10, 1983. However, her lawyer Richard Golub assured her that this wouldn't be a problem.

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Jennings claimed she and Hurt entered a prenuptial agreement in 1983 when he told her about his divorce from Mary. Hurt denied the claims, with Jennings and her lawyer unable to present any evidence.

Judges heard testimonies from Sherlie Credle, Jennings' doctor's wife, who claimed the actor referred to Jennings as his wife on a phone call. Unfortunately, she couldn't provide the exact date Hurt made the call.

William Hurt attends the "Winter's Tale" world premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on February 11, 2014 in New York City  |  Photo: Getty Images

William Hurt attends the "Winter's Tale" world premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on February 11, 2014 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Mary, in her testimony, claimed she encouraged her ex-husband to marry Jennings, but he refused. She said the actor told her Jennings would have his baby shortly before their divorce and admitted she wasn't embarrassed because their marriage was over.

In his testimony, Hollywood writer and Producer Tim Zinnemann said he had stayed next door to Hurt and Jennings during the time they moved in together. He said Jennings often admitted she was frustrated because Hurt wouldn't marry her.

Zinnemann said several of the women in the movie "The Big Chill" cast also organized a baby shower for Jennings. Hurt was adjudged not to have had a common-law marriage with Jennings. This ruling was further upheld in the States Courts of Appeal.

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Actor William Hurt arrives for The Premiere Of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" held at The Dolby Theater on April 12, 2016 in Hollywood, California  | Photo: Getty Images

Actor William Hurt arrives for The Premiere Of Marvel's "Captain America: Civil War" held at The Dolby Theater on April 12, 2016 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

REFLECTION AND FUTURE ENDEAVOURS

In an interview with The Guardian, Hurt admitted that he woke up one day and realized he needed to make a change. He said living on the edge is not conducive to great acting.

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He claimed that not having any fragilities or frailties is a myth and that one has to find a balance. He admitted he stopped in the early 1990s. Around this time, he left Hollywood as well.

He has since turned down roles in movies like "Jurassic Park" and "Misery." He also went to France and had another child with French Actress Sandrine Bonnaire.

Actor William Hurt attends the Amazon 2016 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California  | Photo: Getty Images

Actor William Hurt attends the Amazon 2016 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

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Hurt recently returned to acting in Harold Pinter's theatre drama "No Man's Land" alongside director Allen Nause. He was nominated as lead for his brilliant performance on "Too Big to Fail" by HBO.

One of the play's coveted parts also went to Hurt's son Alex who recently graduated from New York University with a degree in theater. The play would be the first time the father and son would work together.

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