Tony Award-winning actor Ben Vereen spent 36 years illegally married to a woman in California, according to a bizarre report in the New York Post.
Turns out, he's been legally married to another woman for the past 50 years, although they've been estranged for more than four decades.
The news is only now known because he is trying to officially divorce her.
The actor says the whole thing is a miscommunication, claiming that he filed for divorce from first wife Andrea in the early 70s, after a little over five years of marriage. A source close to Ben says that Andrea then filed for divorce in '74.
But in a new twist, Andrea claims she was never served, therefore the divorce can't be official. It was only recently that she learned of this development when she filed for Social Security and didn't have the paperwork to prove their divorce had gone through.
The duo married in February 1965. Court papers show that he was 19 at the time of the wedding, whereas she was 14 and pregnant, to boot.
Andrea, a minister, is asking the judge to make Ben pay for the divorce.
"This case fundamentally raises the issue of more than a 50-year marriage," her lawyer told the newspaper. "She raised their child and deserves to benefit from the success of Mr. Vereen, a well-known singer and dancer."
He continued, "Mr. Vereen 'married' another woman in LA," making air quotes when he said 'married.' "He lived with her. He had children with her. He supported her. And he divorced her."
"But there was no California 'marriage,'" the attorney said.
Court records show that Ben married Nancy Bruner in 1976 after moving to Los Angeles. They split in 2012.
Ben has appeared in many film and TV projects, including miniseries "Roots" and he had many guest cameos in "How I Met Your Mother." He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in "Funny Lady."
The judge in the case, the paper said, advised the couple to try and settle their differences outside of court, saying they "didn't want a stranger in black robes to determine their lives."
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