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Physician’s Wife Says Hurt Referred to Jennings As His Wife

June 22, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ William Hurt’s ex-lover said people who worked on ″The Big Chill″ wanted the Oscar-winning actor to marry her while the movie was being made and were upset he did not.

Former ballerina Sandra Jennings, the mother of Hurt’s 6-year-old son, Alexander Devon Hurt, claims a common-law marriage exists between her and Hurt under South Carolina statutes.

Jennings, 32, is suing Hurt for a divorce and half of his earnings since Dec. 9, 1982, when he reportedly learned his divorce from his first wife, actress Mary Beth Hurt, was final.

Jennings’ claim is based on four weeks she spent with Hurt in Beaufort, S.C., from Dec. 9, 1982, to Jan. 10, 1983, while he was filming ″The Big Chill.″

New York, where the two lived most of the time, does not recognize common- law marriages.

Jennings’ lawyer, A. Richard Golub, estimates Hurt’s worth at $10 million.

On Wednesday, Hurt’s lawyer, Martin Shelton, showed that Jennings’ testimony was sometimes inconsistent with testimony from earlier sworn statements.

When she testified that members of the movie cast expressed concern to Hurt about how he was treating her, Shelton pointed out that she had said in depositions they expressed their concern to her.

Jennings also admitted that she knew Hurt was still married to his first wife, Mary Beth Hurt, when she began living with him.

Asked why she waited so long to take legal action against Hurt, she said: ″Because I trusted him. He always said he would take care of Alex and I.″

At another point, she said, ″Marriage was a subject we talked about constantly.″

Shirley Credle, wife of South Carolina obstetrician Bernard Credle, also took the stand Wednesday and appeared to bolster Jennings’ claim that Hurt called her his wife even though they had not been married. She testified that Hurt referred to Jennings as his wife in a phone call to her home.

She said she did not recognize Hurt’s voice until he identified himself but then she remembered his voice from the movie, ″Body Heat.″

″Is this Mrs. Doctor?″ Mrs. Credle quoted Hurt as asking. She said she told him she was and Hurt said, ″Can I speak to the doctor about my wife?″

Golub said Mrs. Credle’s testimony proved Hurt and Jennings were living as husband and wife in South Carolina, but Mrs. Credle could not say that the call came after Dec. 9, 1982.

State Judge Jacqueline Silberman, who is hearing the trial without a jury, must decide whether a common-law marriage exists. The judge has indicated that Jennings will have a hard time proving her case.

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