When Heather Locklear alerted the media last Thursday that she'd filed for divorce, the news hit the Internet, and within an hour, everyone seemed to know … except Richie Sambora, her husband of 11 years. But by Hollywood standards, isn't that to be expected?
Hours after the announcement, as I was walking home, I couldn't believe my ears when a colleague at ABC News Radio called to say Richie Sambora was denying the biggest entertainment story of the day -- and insisting that he and Locklear were even making plans for Valentine's Day.
The press release from Locklear's publicist had left little doubt: "After 10 years of marriage, Heather Locklear has filed for divorce from Richie Sambora, This is a private matter and there will be no further comment at this time."
Sambora was in Washington, D.C., preparing for that evening's Bon Jovi show, when ABC's Leah Ricciuti asked him for comment.
"It's completely untrue," he insisted, as if another Internet hoax had been perpetuated -- and that seemed entirely possible in the moments after the interview. Did the media get it wrong?
After all, the press release from CeCe York, Locklear's publicist, said the breakup had come "after 10 years of marriage." Her client and Sambora had actually celebrated their 11th anniversary in December.
Nevertheless, York confirmed that her announcement was genuine, though she offered no further explanation.
Of course, as we tried to make sense of what happened, it only made sense to try to guess at the sort of spiteful games that estranged Hollywood spouses might play with the media to make each other look bad.
The question begged to be asked: Could Sambora be playing dumb? Could he have been pretending not to know his "Spin City" wife had filed for divorce in order to make her look infinitely more coldhearted than anyone on "Dynasty," the '80s primetime soap that brought her to fame as the sexy, conniving Sammy Jo Dean Carrington?
Sambora is, after all, one of the guys who co-wrote, "You Give Love a Bad Name."
But if Sambora were attempting some trick, surely Locklear's camp would have fired back a response, and in the days after the announcement both he and Locklear were mum.
Now, days later, the Sambora interview only seems all the more grim. He spoke of how his wife had joined the band on its recent tour, and how he looked forward to time together with their 8-year-old daughter, Ava.
"Heather was just up for our anniversary and that was Dec. 15 … I was home for like two and a half weeks over Christmas, and I have a month off in March, so it's going to be good."
It'd be hard to tell from those comments that his was a marriage in jeopardy. Then again, it's always hard to see behind a celebrity veneer. Show business is, ultimately, the business of show -- and in the end, stars show us what they want us to see.
In December, the 46-year-old guitarist and his 44-year-old wife put up a united front, after tabloids reported that they were fighting over having a second child. They released a joint statement to the New York Daily News, saying, "The real story is that there is no story. The truth is that after 11 years together, we are still happily married. Boring but true."
In retrospect, the real story is what happened last week. While a seemingly oblivious Sambora waxed on about domestic bliss, even wishing for more children, his wife was sending tremors through the news wires by announcing the next big celebrity divorce.
As off-the-chart dysfunctional as this breakup may be, it's not so strange for Tinseltown, where over-hyped storybook romances often end as Stephen King bloodbaths. Certainly, everyone has wrestled with how to end a relationship. Do you do it in a public place? Do you need to do it face to face? Do you wait for the right time even when you know in your heart it's over?
Of course, celebrities fancy themselves creative types, and they've broken new ground in finding ways to dump their lovers and announce they're moving on. Here, then, is a look at some of Hollywood's most infamous breakups -- and the unique methods used.
1. Oprah's Couch: Matt Damon & Minnie Driver
Matt Damon never jumped up and down on Oprah's famed furniture like Tom Cruise, but he might have made just as big a fool of himself in 1998, when he told a national audience that he was single. The announcement came as a total surprise to Minnie Driver, his "Good Will Hunting" co-star, whom he'd been squiring around Los Angeles for seven months. Damon, who married last year, subsequently adopted a "no comment" policy when questioned about his love life.
2. The 'Locke' Out: Clint Eastwood & Sandra Locke
Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke, his co-star through six films, shared his Bel Air home and were together for more than a dozen years. That came to an end in 1988, when Eastwood's lawyer sent a letter to the Oscar-nominated actress saying that the locks had been changed and her clothes and other belongings -- including a pet parrot named "Putty" -- were waiting to be picked up.
Locke ended up suing the "Unforgiven" star for palimony -- and then locked horns with Warner Bros, claiming the film studio induced her to drop her legal action by offering her a contract to direct three films, then reneging on the deal. Interestingly, the word "palimony" was introduced to America several years earlier by Eastwood's "Paint Your Wagon" co-star and fellow Hollywood Western tough guy Lee Marvin.
3. The Fax: Daniel Day Lewis & Isabelle Adjani
When Daniel Day-Lewis and French beauty Isabelle Adjani began dating in 1989, they had something in common -- they were both the most reclusive of movie stars. During their five years together, they were accustomed to phoning and faxing letters to each other. But he became infamous for faxing his farewell note to her while she was seven months pregnant.
4. The FedEx Farewell: Sylvester Stallone & Jennifer Flavin
Leave it to Rocky to deliver a fatal body blow with the ultimate sucker punch. In 1995, when Stallone gave Jennifer Flavin the heave-ho, the message absolutely, positively had to be there overnight. So rather than call, or wait for a face-to-face confrontation, the all-American action hero sent a six-page handwritten "Dear Jane" letter via FedEx.
The master of monosyllabic dialogue must have a way with words. After a short engagement to model Angie Everhart, Sly and Flavin reunited. She became his third wife in 1997, and they now have three children together.
5. The Exposé: Kiefer Sutherland & Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland met in on the set of "Flatliners," and had a wedding date set for June 14, 1991. But shortly before the big day, the bubble burst, after an L.A. stripper named Amanda "Ravin" Rice sold the story of her torrid affair with Sutherland. He denied it, but she was soon dating his friend (and now former friend) Jason Patric.
6. Fathering (and Grandfathering) a Child Out-of-Wedlock: Lynn Redgrave & John Clark
Hollywood has seen all sorts of unorthodox unions, and you have unlimited choices if you're looking for the strangest. Woody Allen is often mentioned in this regard. The 70-year-old director recently celebrated his eighth wedding anniversary with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow, with whom he had started a family. His relationship with Farrow ended when she found pictures of a scantily clad Previn in his apartment.
After years of public ridicule, Allen seems to be moving on. And, if it makes the marriage more acceptable in the public's eye, his 35-year-old wife is now old enough to be exactly half his age.
But far stranger is the story of Lynn Redgrave and John Clark. The couple had an open marriage, and for 32 years, they accepted each other's dalliances. But Redgrave was not accepting enough on Thanksgiving Day in 1998, when she found that her husband had had a child with their personal assistant. Making matters worse, by the time Redgrave found out, the woman had married Clark's son, theoretically making Clark both father and grandfather to the child. Now, that's a love story for the ages.
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.