An actor who was a part of the original “Roots” miniseries in 1977 is being accused of bigamy. Actor, dancer and singer Ben Vereen, a Tony Award winner and three-time Emmy nominee, allegedly spent 36 years married to two women.
Vereen played Chicken George in “Roots” and went on to a successful stage, film and TV career.
“The ‘Pippin’ star filed for divorce from his first wife, Andrea, whom he married 52 years ago and separated from shortly thereafter,” People magazine reports. “The estranged couple appeared at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday morning, where a judge urged the pair to settle their dispute outside of court, according to the defendant’s attorney, Harold Mayerson.”
The report adds: “Mayerson, who is representing Andrea, tells People that his client believed she had been divorced for decades, and only learned that the marriage was not legally dissolved recently when she went to collect Social Security.”
Vereen reportedly did not know he was still married to his first wife when he remarried in 1976.
Mayerson told The New York Post’s Page Six: “This story is so bizarre — you can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps, Mr. Vereen will see another movie opportunity here.”
The Post adds: “Vereen, 69, claims that he filed for divorce in New York in 1972, after seven years of marriage, and moved to LA thinking that the marriage was officially dissolved, sources said.”
“Vereen — who won best actor in a musical at the Tonys in 1973 for ‘Pippin’ and who played Chicken George in the TV miniseries ‘Roots’ — then married Nancy Bruner in 1976,” The Post reports. “Court papers show he filed to split from her in 2012.”