The ex files: angry vs angry

As the McCartneys have found, breaking up is hard to do - especially when there's a fortune in the bank and a row on the go. Adrian Turpin on the love stories that had anything but happy endings
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The Independent Online

Alec Baldwin vs Kim Basinger

Time together: Nine years

Arguably, Hollywood's most bitter divorce. In the five years since they decided to split, Baldwin and Basinger have traded accusations of alcohol abuse, physical ill-treatment, and mental instability. Low points include his claim to be writing a book about the evils of the divorce process (a bit like getting Dracula to compose a guide to giving blood) and her recent arraignment on charges that she violated a child custody order, a charge she strongly denies. He also accuses Basinger of being a "child-snatcher".

But the nadir (to date) came as when Baldwin accused Basinger of giving their 10-year-old child chocolate bars customised with the words, "To my daughter, Ireland, who gave me the strength, courage and tenacity to stand up for myself". Baldwin insisted on making their custody battle public.

Acrimony rating *****

Charlie Chaplin vs Lita Grey

Time together: 4 years

When it comes to high-profile divorce, leaks to the press are nothing new, as the implosion of Chaplin's second marriage shows. Grey was a child star and reputedly the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. She was 12 when Chaplin cast her as the "Flirting Angel" in his film The Kid. By 16, she was pregnant to the star, and a shotgun wedding was arranged. The marriage lasted just four years. In 1928, Lita's lawyers lodged 42 pages detailing Chaplin's sexual misdemeanours, accusing him, among other things, of promiscuity, sadism and having a fetish for virgins. Copies of this complaint were sold on street corners. It is even credited with introducing the word fellatio to the wider American public.

Chaplin finally paid Grey $825,000, with $1m costs, a record amount for the time. Acrimony rating ****

Charlie Sheen vs Denise Richards

Time together: four years

Richards pulled no punches when she filed for divorce in April. In a sworn declaration lodged with a California court, the former Bond girl alleged that her husband was addicted to gambling, prostitutes and pornographic websites; that he displayed a paranoid compulsion to buy gas masks; and had a fascination with the death of Nicole Simpson, OJ's murdered wife. She also expressed concern that he wished to place firearms under a coffee table, despite the fact that he had accidentally shot (it can happen) his previous fiancée, Kelly Preston. Sheen called the accusations a "smear campaign".

In August, lawyers for the couple declared that their divorce had been "amicably resolved". Wonderful how healing the law can be.

Acrimony rating: *****

Lionel Richie vs Diane Richie

Time together: Eight years

"Say you, say me, say it for always," sang the former Commodore. "That's the way it should be. Say you, say me, say it together, naturally." His wife, Diane, didn't quite seem to have seen it that way. Her divorce papers from 2004 also show that she is anything but a "Penny Lover".

"[Lionel] and I had an extraordinarily extravagant lifestyle. [We] regularly spent in excess of $300,000 a month. We could comfortably afford to spend unlimited sums of money on everything and anything we chose."

The former dancer's post-divorce needs included a monthly $15,000 for shoes and clothes, $3,000 for dermatology, $1,000 for laser hair removal, $5,000 each for jewellery and gifts and an annual $20,000 for plastic surgery. "I think that maybe the price of this love is too high to pay," Lionel observed on his next album. He may have had a point.

Acrimony rating: **

Prince Charles vs Princess Diana

Time together: Fifteen years

The proxy war fought in the tabloids only had one winner: Diana. Under pressure from the Queen to stop the damage of bad publicity and reach a quick agreement, Prince Charles agreed to a settlement many of his friends thought excessive. Diana agreed to give up her royal title and in return received £17.5m and an allowance for her private office.

"Princess Diana took every penny he had," his financial adviser at the time, Geoffrey Bignell, told The Sunday Telegraph in 2004. "I was told to liquidate everything, all his investments, so he could give her cash. He was very unhappy. That's when I stopped being his financial adviser because he had no personal wealth left. She took him to the cleaners."

While Charles's idea of being broke may differ from most, this account may ring alarm bells in one household.

Paul McCartney is employing the Prince's matrimonial lawyer, Viona Shackleton, in his upcoming battle; Heather Mills uses Anthony Julius, who represented Diana.

Acrimony rating ***

Cary Grant vs Dyan Cannon

Time together: 22 months

It may be coincidence that Cary Grant never made another film after his divorce from the actress Dyan Cannon. After all, he was 61 at the time. But the court proceedings devastated his clean-cut image as much as it did his bank balance.

Cannon, then 28, accused him of spanking her over his knee for wearing a mini-skirt and too much make-up, even inviting the servants to watch. She also claimed Grant had taken LSD during their two-year marriage. A long and bitter battle for custody of their daughter, Jennifer, followed. "If I'd stayed in that marriage I'd be dead today, dead, dead, dead, dead, really dead, in a grave dead," Cannon said years later. "I don't want to talk about him,;he's a real pain."

Acrimony rating ****

Tom Cruise vs Nicole Kidman

Time together: Nine years, 11 months

As with most things in the life of Tom Cruise, mystery still hangs over the end of his marriage to Kidman in 2001. "Nicole knows why," he said, prompting torrents of online speculation, much of it to do with things that may have happened on the set of Moulin Rouge. Was it just a coincidence, then, that Cruise's divorce petition was filed days before the couple's 10th anniversary? Californian law states that after 10 years, a spouse must pay alimony until their partner remarries.

Acrimony rating ***

Marvin Gaye vs Anna Gordy

Time together: Fourteen years

The 1977 divorce settlement between the singer Marvin Gaye and his wife Anna Barry was simple: Gaye agreed to pay Anna, sister of the Motown boss Berry Gordy, from royalties on his next album. But Here, My Dear is a savage exploration of their split, Gaye accusing her of breaking her marriage vows and keeping him from their son. Anna never got most of her money. After Gaye died in debt to her, the taxman took the lot.

Acrimony rating ***

Donald Trump vs Ivana Trump

Time together: 14 years

"Don't get mad, get everything," became Ivana's catchphrase following her 1992 divorce from the New York property magnate. She even got to use it in a cameo during The First Wives Club. The Trumps' bitter split came after Ivana discovered her husband's relationship with a former Miss Georgia, Marla Maples, and confronted her rival on the ski slopes at Aspen. The row made the next day's New York Post, which is where much of the "War of the Trumps" would be fought.

Peace was only declared after Ivana's father died of a heart attack and Donald attended the funeral. As part of her settlement, she is said to have received $10m in cash, an estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, worth about the same, $4m compensation for vacating the couple's New York apartment, and $350,000 a year. She has since written a guide to divorce, The Best Is Yet To Come. Sir Paul could do worse than get his hands on a copy.

Acrimony rating ***

Mick Jagger vs Jerry Hall

Time together: 9 years

Was it "just" the fact that Mick Jagger impregnated the model Lucian Morad that drove Hall over the edge? Or that Morad chose to show off her bump on the front of various magazines? Whatever. The Jagger-Hall split will always be remembered for one of the most weaselly ploys in the history of matrimonial legislation. Nine years after the couple supposedly wed in Bali, Jagger's legal team argued that the "marriage" was invalid. Not that it stopped Hall walking away with a cool £10m.

Acrimony rating ***

Liza Minnelli vs David Gest

Time together: 16 months

In retrospect, having Elizabeth Taylor as matron of honour and Michael Jackson as best man at their wedding may not have been the best omen.

Gest claimed that his wife was "alcoholic, overweight" and (how many husbands will sympathise) "unable to be effectively merchandised". Minelli, he claimed, had beaten him so badly that he was left with "severe headaches, vertigo, nausea, hypertension, scalp tenderness and insomnia". In September, a judge dismissed the $10m suit.

Acrimony rating ****