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A 2010 report from the CDCconfirms the often-repeated statistic that 50% of all marriages in the United States now end in divorce.
However, some communities are harder-hit by this epidemic than others, and the entertainment community bears more than its fair share of shattered nuptials. But this is not simply because there is a high number of divorced entertainers. Rather, there are entertainers who have divorced a high number of times, with some racking up as many as four, five or even six divorces or more.
Many of these stars come from decades past, so they've had more time to rack up divorces than today's under-40 crowd of celebrities. However, at the rate they're going, such stars as Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore and Kate Winslet could be poised to assume the mantle of "serial divorcee" that the stars of yesteryear took so long to earn.
Click ahead to see which celebrities have been the unluckiest in love and racked up the most divorces.
By Daniel Bukszpan, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 28 Mar 2011
Divorced: 4 times
Christie Brinkley’s career as a model was marked by record-breaking success. She was the first person ever to appear three times in a row on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and according to her official website, her contract with cosmetics giant CoverGirl was the longest in history. She then turned her success as a model into wise real estate investments, which Newsday estimated to be worth $80 million.
Brinkley was first married to French artist Jean-François Allaux, whom she divorced after eight years. Her second and most famous husband was musician Billy Joel, whom she married in 1985 and with whom she had a daughter, Alexa. That marriage ended in 1994, the same year in which she married real estate developer Richard Taubman. The couple had a baby, Jack, in June 1995, but the marriage ended the same year. Her last marriage was to architect Peter Cook, whom she wed in 1996 and whose divorce two years later was a regular feature in the tabloids. Brinkley has not remarried since.
Pictured: Model Christie Brinkley and musician Billy Joel attend the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Eighth Annual Dinner Dance Benefit to Honor Christie Brinkley on April 26, 1991 Aboard The Princess Yacht in New York City.
Divorced: 4 times
The British actress Joan Collins had already enjoyed a long, successful career before joining the cast of Dynasty in 1981 as the scheming Alexis Colby. However, that role made her a superstar, and her presence on the show is widely credited with contributing to its success. Millions of television viewers couldn’t help tuning in every week to see if she and co-star Linda Evans would get into yet another catfight in a pool of mud.
She first married Irish actor Maxwell Reed in 1952, when she was 19. After divorcing him in 1956, she married singer and actor Anthony Newley in 1963, divorcing him in 1970. In 1972 she married Apple Records president Ron Kass, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1983. Collins then married Swedish singer Peter Holm in 1985, at the height of her Dynasty heyday.
The marriage ended in 1987, and she remained unmarried until 2002, when she tied the knot with Percy Gibson. The groom was 32 years her junior, and given her history, few people expected the marriage to last. However, the two have remained married to this day, and they renewed their vows in 2009.
Pictured: Joan Collins with her then-husband Peter Holm.
Divorced: 4 times
Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the most important figures of early rock ‘n roll. A contemporary of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, his hit singles, such as “Great Balls of Fire,” are among the most important in pop music history. However, his personal life could, at best, be described as turbulent.
His first marriage was to Dorothy Barton, and it lasted just under two years. According to a 1978 People magazine interview, he was 14 years old at the time of the marriage and she was 17, so she was “too old” for him. His next marriage, to Jane Mitchum, took place 23 days before his divorce from Barton was final and lasted four years.
Lewis married Myra Gale Brown next. She was his first cousin once removed and 13 years old at the time. When her age and familial connection to him came to light, the scandal sidelined him as a professional musician for a decade. Still, they remained married for 13 years. After the divorce he married Jaren Elizabeth Gunn Pate and then Shawn Stephens, both of whom died in accidents while married to him. His last marriage, to Kerrie McCarver, lasted for 20 years and ended in divorce in 2004.
Pictured: American rock musician Jerry Lee Lewis holds his second cousin and third wife Myra Brown in his lap at a press conference in the Westbury Hotel, London, May 23, 1958.
Divorced: 4 times
Singer and actress Liza Minelli became famous during the 1970s when she starred in the 1972 movie musical Cabaret. As the daughter of legendary actress and singer Judy Garland, it wasn’t surprising that show business was in her blood. For many years she was an A-List entertainer, with stage productions that sold out such venues as Carnegie Hall and Radio City.
The Oscar-winning performer 's first marriage to entertainer Peter Allen ended in 1974 after seven years. That same year, she married producer and director Jack Haley Jr., and that union lasted until 1979. Minelli then married artist Mark Gero, and that union was her longest at 13 years. Her last marriage, to concert promoter David Gest, lasted from 2002 until 2007, and the acrimonious divorce played out in public view on gossip and entertainment television shows. She has not remarried.
Divorced: 4 times
Martin Scorsese is one of America’s most acclaimed and influential living filmmakers. He has directed some of the most seminal movies of all time, such as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, and in 2006 he won an Oscar for his work directing the mob film The Departed.
His first marriage was to fellow NYU student Laraine Marie Brennan, whom he wed in 1965 while he was still a 22-year-old undergraduate. The couple divorced in 1971, and he married writer Julia Cameron. The union lasted one year, and in 1979 he married actress Isabella Rossellini. After divorcing in 1983, he married producer Barbara De Fina, only to see that union end in 1991. Finally, Scorsese married book editor Helen Morris in 1999, and the marriage is still going strong 12 years later.
Pictured: Martin Scorsese with his then-wife, Italian actor Isabella Rossellini, at a Variety Clubs tribute to Rosellini's mother, Swedish actor Ingrid Bergman, Burbank, California.
Divorced: 5 times
Romance novelist Danielle Steel has been writing scorchingly torrid volumes for almost 40 years. According to the Barnes & Noble website, the author had her work published in 47 countries and translated into 28 languages, and she has had over 20 books adapted for television movies. Her books have never been a favorite of the critics, but with more than 25 New York Times number one hardcover bestsellers to her credit, it hardly matters.
She was first married in 1965 to banker Claude-Eric Lazard when she was 18. The marriage lasted nine years, and soon after the couple divorced, Steel married Danny Zugelder, but that marriage ended in divorce when Zugelder was convicted of sexual assault. Her next marriage, to William Toth, was short-lived, lasting only three years.
Almost immediately after the divorce was finalized, she married wine merchant John Traina in 1981. At 17 years, it would be the longest marriage of them all. It ended in 1998, and that same year she wed Tom Perkins, founder of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers venture capital firm. That marriage ended in 2002, and Steel remains unmarried today.
Divorced: 5 times
Actor Billy Bob Thornton has been a fixture of American films since the 1990s. First making his mark in bit parts, he won an Oscar in 1998 for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Sling Blade, which he also starred in and directed. Afterward, he became a ubiquitous presence in films, and he has starred in a wide variety of projects, from comedies like Bad Santa to dramas like Monster’s Ball.
He was first married to Melissa Lee Gatlin in 1978, divorcing her in 1980. His next marriage, to Toni Lawrence, also only lasted for two years. Next he married actress Cynda Williams, a union that lasted from 1990 to 1992. His fourth wife was Pietra Dawn Cherniak, and that marriage lasted four years. However, his most high-profile union was with actress Angelina Jolie. It only lasted three years, but during that brief period they made tabloid headlines with their frequent public displays of affection and insistence on wearing vials of one another’s blood around their necks.
Photo: Billy Bob Thornton and his then-wife, actress Angelina Jolie, arrive at the 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills 20 January 2002.
Divorced: 6 times
Film producer Robert Evans has been responsible for some of the most well - known classics in movie history. He was the producer behind such films as Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather, and he is legendary among the Hollywood community for his quirky behavior. Dustin Hoffman’s character in 1997’s Wag The Dog is based on him, as is Martin Landau’s character Bob Ryan on the HBO series Entourage.
Evans has been married seven times and divorced six. His first wife was Sharon Hugueny, to whom he was married for only one year. Next he was married for two years to Camilla Sparv, and after that he was married to actress Ali McGraw for three years, a personal best.
Then he married actress Phyllis George, actress Catherine Oxenberg, model Leslie Ann Woodward and socialite Victoria White. His marriage to Woodward lasted two years, and the marriages to George and White lasted one year. The only marriage not to end in divorce was his union with Oxenberg, which was annulled after nine days.
Pictured: Producer Robert Evans and his then-wife Victoria arrive at the premiere of Paramount Picture's 'Stardust' at the Paramount Studio Theater on July 29, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
Divorced: 6 times
Television and radio host Larry King is a broadcasting legend whose career dates back to the 1950s. He became a household name in 1985 when he began hosting Larry King Live on CNN, a job he held for 25 years.
The veteran journalist first married in 1951, exchanging vows with his high school girlfriend Freda Miller at the age of 18. However, the marriage was annulled, and between 1961 and 1983 he married and divorced five women, including Playboy bunny Alene Akins, whom he married and divorced twice.
King married businesswoman Julie Alexander in 1989, after proposing to her on their first date. The marriage ended in divorce in 1992, and in 1997 he married singer Shawn Southwick.
The couple remains married today. A New York Daily News article from 2008 quotes King on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, when he described her as "the only [wife] to have lasted into the two digits." The couple began divorce proceedings in 2010, but decided not to go through with it.
Photo: Larry King with his sixth wife, Julie Alexander.
Divorced: 7 times
Actress and former Miss Hungary Zsa Zsa Gabor emigrated to the United States in 1941 and quickly became a popular performer, appearing in films alongside Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers and Red Skelton. She easily transitioned to television, and her many marriages and divorces became a steady supply of comedy that she used as source material. She once said, “I am a perfect housekeeper: every time I divorce I keep the house.”
She first married Turkish political writer Burhan Asaf Belge is 1937, divorcing him in 1941. Her next marriage was to hotelier Conrad Hilton, which lasted five years. She was also married to actor George Sanders, investment banker Herbert Hutner, Joshua S. Cosden, Jr., “Barbie” doll designer Jack Ryan, and Michael O'Hara. After a marriage to actor Felipe de Alba was annulled after one day, she married Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt in 1986, and the two remain married today.
Pictured: Zsa Zsa Gabor with English actor George Sanders (1906 - 1972), her ex-husband, at the opening night of 'Private Lives' at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Hollywood, December 1970.
Divorced: 7 times
The movie career of the diminutive Mickey Rooney spans over 80 years, starting in 1927 when he was seven years old. Rooney made a name for himself as a child actor and distinguished himself with the work he did in the 1930s alongside Judy Garland. However, he avoided the child actor’s curse and remained consistently employed well into adulthood.
Rooney divorced seven times, a feat which once led the actor to joke that his standard marriage contract reads, “To whom it may concern.” He first married actress Ava Gardner in 1942, but the marriage only lasted one year. Subsequent marriages to singer Betty Jane Rase, actress Martha Vickers, actress Elaine Devry, Carolyn Mitchell, Marge Lane and Carolyn Hocket were also short-lived. However, in 1978 he married actress Jan Chamberlin, and it stuck. The couple has been married for 33 years.
Pictured: Actor Mickey Rooney and wife Jan arrive at the 81st Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on February 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Divorced: 7 times
The late legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor starred in some of the most well - known movies of all time, including Giant, Butterfield 8 and Cleopatra. However, the Oscar-winning actress’ many professional achievements were almost overshadowed on numerous occasions by her personal life, and she was almost as famous for her seven divorces as she was for the dozens of classic films on her resume.
Taylor first married TWA director Conrad Hilton, Jr., a union that only lasted one year. She then married actor Michael Wilding and after divorcing him, married film producer Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash one year later. Next she married singer Eddie Fisher, but her marriage to her next husband, actor Richard Burton, was her most famous.
The two wed in 1964 and divorced 10 years later, but after one year they decided they couldn’t live without each other, and remarried. They divorced again one year later. Taylor then married politician John Warner and construction worker Larry Fortensky. The last marriage ended in 1996, and Taylor remained unmarried until her death.
Pictured: Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband Larry Fortensky arrive at London's newly opened Mirabelle restaurant on November 5, 1991.
Divorced: 8 times
Actress Lana Turner appeared in such movies as Imitation of Life, Peyton Place and the film noir classic The Postman Always Rings Twice. A legend persists that she was discovered by a talent agent while she drank a Coke at a pharmacy, and this bit of showbiz lore has kept busloads of naïve hopefuls coming to Hollywood to be discovered ever since.
Turner was married eight times in her life — and like Elizabeth Taylor, two times were to the same husband. She married bandleader Artie Shaw in 1940, but the turbulent union lasted only four months. Next she married actor Joseph Stephen Crane in 1942, then divorced him in 1943 when she discovered that his previous divorce had yet to be finalized. They remarried that same year, but divorced for good in 1944.
Next she married socialite Henry J. Topping, then actor Lex Barker, rancher Fred May, movie producer Robert Eaton and finally nightclub performer Ronald Dante. In all she had seven husbands and eight divorces, and she was later quoted as saying, "My goal was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out to be the other way around."
Pictured: Actress Lana Turner (1921 - 1995) and her then-husband, fellow actor Lex Barker (1919 - 1973), as they attend the premiere of the John Huston-directed film version of 'Moby Dick,' June 1956.
CNBC goes inside the confidential world of the multi-million dollar divorce, revealing the secrets of winning and losing on a battlefield of emotional pain and financial gain.