13 of the most scandalous divorces in US history

insider@insider.com (Gabbi Shaw)
elizabeth taylor eddie fisher debbie reynolds
elizabeth taylor eddie fisher debbie reynolds

Bettman/Getty Images

  • Divorce can be an extremely messy and painful process.

  • When you add in celebrities, millions of dollars, and the public's investment in celebrity relationships, it becomes downright scandalous.

  • Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds for her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor, and Robin Thicke just couldn't let go of his wife, Paula Patton, after their divorce. 

  • Here are some of the most scandalous divorces in US history.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

When an iconic couple in the public eye breaks up, there will always be drama. But sometimes, it can reach a whole new level when accusations of infidelity, double lives, and violence become a part of the narrative.

The whole world was captivated by the news of Eddie Fisher leaving America's sweetheart Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor — who happened to be Reynolds' best friend.

Here are 12 other scandalous divorces that have gone down in flames — and will live on in infamy.

Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds divorced after Fisher started dating Elizabeth Taylor, the widow of his best friend, Mike Todd.

Eddie Fisher Debbie Reynolds Carrie Fisher
Eddie Fisher Debbie Reynolds Carrie Fisher

AP Photo

Reynolds and Fisher were the A-list Hollywood couple of the '50s. They were also close with another Hollywood golden couple, Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd. In fact, Fisher was Todd's best man, while Reynolds was Taylor's matron of honor.

But, when Todd died in a plane crash, Fisher grew a little too close to Taylor. As Carrie Fisher said in her one-woman show, her father "rushed to [Taylor's] side, gradually moving to her front." Fisher and Reynolds divorced in 1959, and Fisher and Taylor were married that same year.

Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook divorced after he had an affair with a teenager.

Christie Brinkley Peter Cook
Christie Brinkley Peter Cook

AP

Cook and Brinkley divorced in 2006, though the process took two years to finalize. During the hearings, it was claimed Cook had paid his 18-year-old mistress $300,000 to keep her quiet, and had given her another $15,000 to help buy a car, the Associated Press reported. She was also his employee.

Brinkley's daughter with Billy Joel, Alexa Ray Joel, also testified that Cook had dunked her head in a bucket of water, after she had unintentionally caused a leak — but Cook refuted this.

Cook's lawyer claimed the entire process was the "self-indulgent wrath of a woman scorned."

The divorce was finalized in July 2008.

John Edwards became Public Enemy No. 1 after it was claimed he had cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, while she was battling breast cancer.

john edwards elizabeth edwards
john edwards elizabeth edwards

Gerry Broome/AP

Edwards was in the midst of a presidential campaign when the bomb dropped: He had been having an affair with a filmmaker named Rielle Hunter, she had recently given birth to a daughter (who was revealed to be Edwards'), and he was being investigated for improperly using campaign funds. The charges were dismissed in 2012.

He first denied he had fathered a baby, and also made it clear his wife had been in remission when the affair first began. Edwards admitted he was the father of Hunter's child in January 2010, after over a year-and-a-half of denial.

His estranged wife also announced in January 2010 that she had "called it quits" on their marriage, and even had divorce papers drawn up for over a year, but hadn't followed through due to her health. She died in December that year.

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren were at the center of one of the most famous cheating scandals in recent history.

tiger woods elin nordegren
tiger woods elin nordegren

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It all began with a car crash in 2009, when the golf prodigy collided with a fire hydrant and a tree. Soon after, woman after woman, including Rachel Uchitel, Jaimee Grubbs, and Jamie Jungers, came out with receipts that purported to show Woods had been engaging in affairs with them.

Sponsors began dropping him, and after nine months, Woods and his wife, Swedish model Nordegren, announced their divorce in August 2010.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver called it quits after details of his affair started to emerge.

arnold schwarzenegger maria shriver
arnold schwarzenegger maria shriver

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The former governor of California and the niece of JFK seemed like a political match made in heaven, but these two announced their split shortly before their 25th anniversary.

In January 2011, Shriver discovered that Schwarzenegger had fathered a son during their marriage, and reports later identified his mistress as their housekeeper. According to the "Terminator" star, he had been in denial that Joseph was his son, but as the years went by, their resemblance could not be denied.

Shriver filed for divorce in July that year, but as of 2019, the two are still legally married — and they even share the same nail salon.

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin parted ways after he was embroiled in multiple sexting scandals.

Anthony Weiner Huma Abedin
Anthony Weiner Huma Abedin

AP

No one would have blamed Abedin if she had left Weiner in 2011, after a picture of him in his underwear showed up on his very public Twitter account. He claimed he had been hacked, but then admitted it was him. But his wife stayed: At the time, Abedin was secretly pregnant.

Two years later, after Weiner had resigned from Congress and was in the middle of an NYC mayoral campaign, news broke that the sexting hadn't stopped after the first scandal. Again, Abedin said she was committed to the marriage.

But the straw that broke the camel's back came in 2016, when a sexually suggestive photo of Weiner leaked again, but this time their toddler, Jordan, was visible in the image. The next day, Abedin announced their separation. It was claimed that Weiner was in contact with at least 20 women, one of whom was a 15-year-old girl. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and he was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

They withdrew their divorce in January 2018 to handle it privately, because they wanted to spare their son any more embarrassment. Weiner was released from prison in February 2019, and from a Bronx halfway house in May.

 

 

Denise Richards filed for divorce from Charlie Sheen while she was pregnant with their second daughter.

charlie sheen denise richards
charlie sheen denise richards

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Richards and Sheen got married in June 2002, but by March 2005, Richards had filed for divorce from the "Two and a Half Men" star while she was at least six months pregnant.

Richards was granted a temporary restraining order from Sheen, alleging in court papers that "Sheen pushed her, shoved her, and threatened her and her parents." He denied her allegations. Their divorce was finalized in December 2006.

While the divorce itself was tabloid fodder, it got even more juicy when Richards and Heather Locklear ended their friendship after it emerged Richards was dating Locklear's estranged husband, Richie Sambora. The Locklear/Richards feud gripped Hollywood for years, but it finally ended for good when Richards and Sambora split in 2012.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were married for 72 days before the reality star pulled the plug on their union.

kris humphries kim kardashian
kris humphries kim kardashian

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Kardashian and Humphries were only married for 72 days (just over two months) before the reality star filed for divorce on October 31, 2011 — only a couple of weeks after their wedding special had aired on E!. Some people speculated the relationship, wedding, and divorce was for publicity, but Kardashian staunchly denies this.

However, in December that year, Humphries responded with own his filing. Except, he filed for an annulment, claiming their entire marriage was a "fraud," meant to boost the ratings of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

Even though the couple had a pre-nup, the annulment filing meant the proceedings dragged on. A year later, the couple was still not divorced, and Kardashian was pregnant with her future husband Kanye West's baby. "I do not want to be married to [Humphries] when I have my baby," said Kardashian in a statement.

But over the next few months, things broke down even more. Humphries and his divorce attorney split, he refused to appear at the hearings, and it was ruled that he wouldn't be receiving the $7 million he requested. 

It took 536 days — more than seven times as long as their marriage — for their divorce to eventually be finalized on June 4, 2013. North West, her daughter, was born 11 days later.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt split after only two years of marriage, amid claims of a domestic dispute between Pitt and his son, Maddox.

brad pitt angelina jolie
brad pitt angelina jolie

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for WSJ. Magazine 2015 Innovator Awards

These two started dating in 2004, but didn't tie the knot until 2014 at their French chateau. "Brangelina," as they were known, were one of Hollywood's biggest power couples at the time — so when they announced their divorce in 2016, it was shocking.

Soon, details began to emerge about the demise of their marriage. A few weeks after Jolie filed for divorce, she was granted temporary full custody of their kids, as recommended by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The DCFS also investigated Pitt, after there were allegations of a drunken altercation between Pitt and his son, Maddox, on a plane. Pitt was later cleared of any child abuse allegations.

They've put on a united front, but Pitt has acknowledged he is a recovering alcoholic and called divorce proceedings "an investment in vitriolic hatred." Jolie, for her part, said things became "difficult," and that she thinks it's "important to cry in the shower and not in front of them."

As of April 2019, the Jolie-Pitts are legally no more, but they're still not fully divorced. Only time will tell if any more information gets leaked from the proceedings.

Wendy Williams is divorcing her husband, Kevin Hunter, after an explosive investigation by the Daily Mail claimed he was leading a double life.

wendy williams kevin hunter
wendy williams kevin hunter

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

In 2017, the Daily Mail published an article claiming that Hunter, who had been married to Williams for over 20 years, was living a double life complete with a house and mistress — who had an engagement ring on her finger. According to the Daily Mail, Hunter had been seeing this woman for 10 years, and Hunter split his time between the two. At the time, Williams denied the affair.

In May 2019, however, Williams announced she was divorcing Hunter after 22 years of marriage. But Hunter was also her manager and produced "The Wendy Williams Show." She fired him from both.

In August, Williams confirmed the final straw in their marriage was the reveal that Hunter had fathered a child with his girlfriend. "Kevin had a major indiscretion that he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. An indiscretion that I will not deal with," Williams said.

Robin Thicke and Paula Patton were together for over two decades before getting divorced — but Thicke apparently couldn't let go.

robin thicke paula patton
robin thicke paula patton

Getty

Thicke had been the subject of infidelity rumors — which he denied — before the two announced their separation.

However, their separation took a surprising turn when Thicke appeared to be unable to let go. He began dedicating performances to his ex, talking about their relationship in interviews, and he even named his seventh album "Paula." It was widely panned, and a sales flop.

Both have moved on, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention what EW called "the weirdest album of the year" in 2014.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have been in the middle of divorce proceedings for three years.

amber heard johnny depp
amber heard johnny depp

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

This relationship quickly soured. In May 2016, the actress filed for divorce from Depp, citing "irreconcilable differences," but soon after obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Depp. "During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me," she said in a statement. Depp denied any wrongdoing.

In August 2017, they reached a settlement, and footage leaked that allegedly showed Depp throwing a wine glass and bottle, while Heard was in the room. The divorce was finalized in January 2017, but the conflict has continued over the past two years — and it's messy.

Depp brought up Heard in an interview, claiming he was innocent. Heard responded with an op-ed in the Washington Post. Depp sued The Sun for libel, when they referred to him as a "wife-beater," and then sued Heard for $50 million for defamation — and claimed that Heard had been the one abusing him. Heard's attorney denied the allegations.

The case is still ongoing.

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale's marriage crumbled over allegations of Rossdale cheating with the nanny.

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

Getty Images Entertainment/Angela Weiss

After almost 13 years of marriage, this musical power couple called it quits in August 2015. They have three kids together.

Reports emerged the split was due to Rossdale's affair with their kids' nanny, Mindy Mann. Us Weekly reported that Stefani found "nude photos of Mann and their plans to meet up for sex," on a family iPad, which led to the split.

The No Doubt singer opened up about the split in 2016. "Nobody would believe it if I could really say what happened. I went through months and months of torture," she told Cosmopolitan.

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