Jan. 19, 2010 -- It's true. Divorce and trying times go hand in hand but rarely does one partner attempt to split from another while on his deathbed.
That's what's happening with Dennis Hopper. The Hollywood actor said Monday that he is seeking a divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, while fighting an increasingly grim battle against prostate cancer.
In a statement, Hopper said, "I wish Victoria the best but only want to spend these difficult days surrounded by my children and close friends."
The 73-year-old actor announced his cancer diagnosis in September 2009. He and Duffy-Hopper, who married in 1996, have a 6-year-old daughter, Galen. Hopper also has three other children from previous marriages.
In a statement to Reuters, Hopper's oldest daughter, Marin, said, "Dennis is brave, and he is fighting a hell of a battle."
The 1969 film "Easy Rider," which Hopper directed and starred in, made him a major player in Hollywood. Before that, he'd acted alongside James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant." In 1979, Hopper appeared in "Apocalypse Now" and in 1994, "Speed." HIs more recent work includes a major role in the TV series "Crash."
While Hopper's divorce may seem shocking given his failing health, the actor is no stranger to marital woes. In 1970, he wed Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas -- their union lasted a grand total of eight days. Phillips later told Vanity Fair that she was subjected to "excruciating" treatment while with the actor.
Hopper's far from the first star to undergo a nasty divorce. Being in the public eye can make a breakup burn like nothing else. Below, check out 10 other noteworthy divorces, and the salvos that made them infamous.
Jon and Kate Gosselin
Just when it seemed the couple made famous (then infamous) by TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" couldn't spiral downward any further, last fall, Kate accused her ex-husband of draining $230,000 from their joint bank account.
"If I have to work at McDonald's, I will do what I have to for my kids," Kate told ABC's "The View" at the time.
Jon shot down Kate's story, claiming on "The Insider" that he withdrew only $22,000 and Kate should barely feel the hit since "she's hiding money." From there, things have only gotten worse for the Gosselins: a judge ordered Jon to stop blabbing about his personal life to the press, his New York City apartment was subsequently burglarized, and Kate got $7,000 hair extensions that, according to Us Weekly magazine, she now hates.
Charlie Sheen vs. Denise Richards
Most recently, Charlie Sheen has made headlines because of his marital woes with wife Brooke Mueller -- he was arrested on domestic violence charges Christmas Day. But not long ago, it was Sheen and ex-wife Denise Richards' back-and-forth that made their divorce the subject of countless tabloid headlines. The faux pas that took the cake came in June 2008, when Richards released a three-year-old, expletive-laced voice message from Sheen. The highlight: a curse-filled rant from Sheen calling his ex-wife -- and the mother of their two daughters Sam, 5, and Lola, 4 -- a "f***ing c**t" and a "f***ing n****r." Sheen, star of "Two and a Half Men," followed up by releasing an apology for what he called his "choice of words."
Christie Brinkley vs. Peter Cook
It's bad enough finding out about a husband's affair. Having to hear all the gory details divulged in court -- that can be nauseating, especially in the case of Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook. Their July 2008 divorce proceedings featured a torrent of torrid tales, including Cook's tearful admission that he enjoyed oral sex with his then-18-year-old assistant Diana Bianchi and his fondness for masturbating via webcam. No wonder Brinkley told Ladies' Home Journal "I would never get married again" in July 2009. "With what I know, I don't see why anyone would get married," she added.
After closing the books on their divorce last year, Brinkley and Cook recently decided to re-open that can of worms. Wednesday, they convened in a New York court, slinging charges and counter charges of violating the terms of their settlement and attempting to convince a judge that the other belongs in jail. A new trial is scheduled to start Tuesday.
Dina Lohan vs. Michael Lohan
For a while, it seemed the bulk of Dina and Michael Lohan's bickering concerned the fate of their most famous daughter, Lindsay, which might be expected from divorced parents new to Hollywood. But in July 2008 (apparently the summer of '08 slayed celebrity couples), a wild card entered the game: Michael Lohan learned of a love child he never new existed, a teenage half-sister of Lindsay and her three siblings that he fathered while separated from Dina. He even took a DNA test to confirm he was the girl's dad. Dina's response? She told Hollyscoop.com "I feel bad for the little girl."
Madonna vs. Guy Ritchie
After trying to cover up their divorce for weeks, once Madonna and Guy Ritchie went public with the news in October 2008, the mud-slinging started in earnest. She took a swipe at him at a sold-out concert in Boston, introducing the song "Miles Away, " which was inspired by her relationship with Ritchie, by quipping, "This song is for the emotionally retarded. Maybe you know some people who fall into that category. God knows I do." In November's Esquire, Ritchie fought back, calling Madonna "retarded" while admitting he still loves her.
Heather Mills vs. Paul McCartney
To vent after his volatile divorce from Heather Mills, which ended with him writing her a check for $48.7 million, Paul McCartney took to the medium he knows best. In November 2008, he released the scathing song "Nothing Too Much, Just Out of Sight," featuring the rants, "The last thing you do was to try and betray me/ In new morning light/ I'll never forget it/ And that's just outta sight," and "And you have money/ And no manners." Ouch.
Britney Spears vs. Kevin Federline
Though their divorce proceedings went (relatively) smoothly, Britney Spears' custody battle with Kevin Federline over the custody of their sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, was a train wreck. The breakdown heard 'round the world happened in January 2008, when she refused to turn the boys over to Federline at the scheduled pick up time and hid with them in her home for more than four hours, until police forcibly removed her and checked her into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Kim Basinger vs. Alec Baldwin
Like Spears and Federline, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin's divorce drama paled in comparison to the fireworks set off during the custody battle over their daughter, Ireland. In the sixth year of the drawn-out fight, Baldwin called the then 11-year-old Ireland for a court-approved chat, but got her voicemail. He wasn't happy. "You are a rude, thoughtless little pig," Baldwin said in the message leaked on TMZ.com in April 2007. "You have humiliated me for the last time." Baldwin apologized in statement but alleged that Basinger leaked the tape. She refuted his claim, and Baldwin temporarily lost visitation rights.
8. Whitney Houston vs. Bobby Brown
Only recently did Whitney Houston divulge the disturbing details about her divorce from Bobby Brown. "He spit on me," Houston told Oprah Winfrey in September, recounting one of her worst fights with Brown. "He spit on me. He actually spit on me. And my daughter was coming down the stairs and she saw that." Houston's response? "I took the phone and I hit him over the head with it," she told Winfrey.
9. Tricia Walsh (aka the YouTube wife) vs. Paul Smith
Her name may not be as well known as the others on this list, but her salvo is the stuff of Web 2.0 legend. British actress Tricia Walsh eviscerated her ex-husband, theater mogul Paul Smith, in a 2008 YouTube video that listed her long list of grievances. Among them -- that Smith blamed high blood pressure for his refusal to have sex, even though he kept a stash of Viagra and pornography in their home.
The video initially landed Walsh in hot water -- a New York divorce judge ruled she carried out a campaign of harassment against Smith by releasing the video while their divorce proceedings were ongoing, ordered her to leave the couple's tony apartment and cut the value of her settlement. But Walsh bounced back in 2009 with another viral video, "Arm Candy," which she plans to develop into a musical.