All week, the nation has been gripped by a classic tale—a powerful yet married man meets a younger, hot, obsequious woman. And this tale involved the writing of a biography—which would just so happen to involve hours, nay years, of travel for them. Alone. In war zones. They fall in love—and by love, I mean they have sex. A lot. He eventually calls it off. After all, what did she expect him to do? Leave his wife? And naturally, she goes a little bonkers. It’s like 2007 all over again, and John Edwards and Rielle Hunter are in the headlines. But now, it’s David Petraeus, his mistress Paula Broadwell—with side characters based in Tampa. (Side note: Tampa?)
Scenes like these are replayed daily on TV shows like Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?, Cheaters or any show on the Investigation Discovery channel—but rarely with such big names and national implications.
But it is sadly more common than not—and more salacious when the people involved are rich, powerful, and at least one of them is pretty. I remember a story that made the rounds in New York City a decade ago, of a female power publicist who had been dating a dashing, wealthy polo player. Unfortunately for our heroine, the polo player was married at the time—and when he finally let her know he wasn’t going to leave his wife despite her best efforts, the publicist adopted a unique revenge. The story goes, she hired movers and vans and removed every single item in his Hamptons home and left a note on the front door that basically said, “If you want your stuff back and want to keep this affair private, you will wire X amount of dollars into my account.” She then rented a car, donned dark sunglasses, sat a discreet distance away, and watched as her ex drove up to his house. A few minutes later she watched as the cad tore his hair out screaming on his front lawn. A day later, she got her money and he got his furniture back—and his wife and the media were none the wiser.
The lesson is this: Spurned lovers have a tendency to go ballistic. In really inappropriate ways. Here is our top ten list of tragic cases:
1. Lisa Nowak
The NASA astronaut did more for adult diapers than Depends spokeswoman Lisa Rinna ever could. In 2007, Nowak, who had been having an affair with fellow astronaut Bill Oefelein, realized she wasn’t Oefelein’s one and only. Oefelein, who had divorced in 2005, was also dating U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. Nowak drove 950 miles from Houston to Orlando (perhaps wearing adult diapers) and disguised herself in a dark wig, glasses, and trench coat to confront Shipman in the parking lot of Orlando International Airport, according to a police affidavit. Nowak approached Shipman’s car window. When Shipman would not open the door, Nowak began to cry, the police said. Shipman cracked the window, and Nowak sprayed pepper spray into the vehicle. Police intervened and found Nowak had also brought along a BB gun, a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, rubber gloves, and $600 in cash.
2. Grace Morley (aka Grace Williams)
In 2000, a year after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Montel Williams ditched his wife, Grace. A nasty divorce ensued, with allegations of her throwing his clothes out of a window in their Connecticut house, but Grace got the last word four years later by, naturally, going to the press. She told the New York Daily News: “For a father that’s on TV every day telling families how to cope with life the right way, his own backyard is a mess.” Morley also claimed Williams is a hypochondriac. “This man snowboards—I don’t see [fellow MS sufferers] Richard Pryor or Annette Funicello snowboarding and going to the gym every day. I don’t see them going to nightclubs visiting zillions of girlfriends … He doesn’t date women. He dates young ladies that are impressed by who he is, that enjoy his lifestyle, as opposed to real women.”
3. YaVaughnie Wilkins
An eight-year affair between Charles Phillips, one of President Obama’s economic advisers and president of software maker Oracle, ended when he went back to his wife. Wilkins promptly dropped $150,000 on huge billboards in New York (in Times Square), Atlanta and San Francisco (where Phillips had a marital home)—featuring a photo of the ex-couple together and a quote from a text he’d sent her (”you are my soulmate forever”). The billboards also carried a link to a website that detailed their affair.
4. Oksana Grigorieva
The sultry Ukrainian had a steaming affair with Mel Gibson. When the relationship ended and he tried to get custody of their daughter, she released voicemails of him—drunk, furious, and threatening, which helped drive a stake in his reputation.
5. Rielle Hunter
The starry-eyed hippie hit on John Edwards and the next thing you knew, she was his campaign’s official videographer! (Even though she seems to have problems holding a camera straight.) Not long after that, she was pregnant with his love child. Edwards, whose wife was dying of cancer, repeatedly denied both the affair and the child. Eventually, he was exposed by the National Enquirer—which mysteriously was tipped off to the couple’s hotel room and exact time they’d be meeting. In the ensuing years, Hunter has done sexy magazine shoots, written a bad book about the love affair, hinted she’d like to be a TV talk show host, and generally kept her name in the public eye via the same tabloids that broke the news of her affair with Edwards.
6. Keith Olbermann
Yes, it’s true—Olbermann once dated Laura Ingraham, proving they are both crazier or more brilliant than we thought. So what do you do to an ex you hate? You name her the World’s Worst Person on TV. (Side note: I was named the WWP twice, although it must be noted, I never dated Olbermann). Olbermann is such a girl.
7. Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon
When the actress discovered her husband, a CAA agent, was having a long-standing affair, she sent an email to his colleagues with the subject line “Tiger Woods/ Jesse James/ Mike Nilon.” The email read: “What do they have in common? I found out today that MY husband of almost 9 yrs has been having an affair for 5 yrs with some slut in Chicago. I am devastated!!!! And I have been duped!! Our boys don’t deserve this!” Nilon soon left CAA.
After Mariah Carey denied having a fling with the rapper, Eminem went ballistic. Not only did he diss her in several songs, but he played several of her (alleged) voicemails during his Anger Management tour. Eight years later, he was still dissing Mariah. Talk about not letting go!
9. Genevieve Sabourin
The woman commonly known as “Alec Baldwin’s stalker” went a little bonkers, according to court papers, when Baldwin—now happily married to then-girlfriend Hilaria Thomas—refused to see her. Baldwin, who acknowledges having dinner with Sabourin, denied a relationship with the actress. Sabourin countered that she knew of his “intimate scar” and that they had a months-long relationship. Either way, when Baldwin didn’t return her affections, she was arrested for showing up at his home unannounced.
10. All of Fei Lin’s ‘Penis Thieves’
Fei Lin, 41, of the Niqiao village near Wenling City, in east China’s Zhejiang province, got around. A lot. And the boyfriends of all the women who were cheating with him weren’t happy about it … In July, as he slept, his house was broken into by a gang of men and his penis was removed.