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Bill Murray Divorce Nothing to Laugh About

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Bill Murray is known for his quick quips, but he also occasionally channels his inner Dr. Phil. In March he offered marriage advice to newly engaged Brendan Miller, who manages the Piermont, N.Y., wine bar the star frequently visits. Murray, who wed wife Jennifer in 1997, a decade after they met on Scrooged, where she worked as a costumer, “told me marriage is like building a house,” says Miller. “Keep the two foundations far apart. If you hold them too close together, they’ll collapse.”

Murray’s words were prescient; in fact, the marriage between Murray, 57, and Jennifer, 44, has fallen apart—amid shocking allegations. On May 12 Jennifer sued the actor for divorce, accusing him of adultery, physical abuse and addiction to marijuana, alcohol and sex. Other allegations in Jennifer’s court papers, filed in Charleston, S.C., near where the couple live and Murray is co-owner of the RiverDogs minor league baseball team, include an incident last November in which she claims Murray hit her face and said she was “lucky he didn’t kill her.” Murray’s alleged behavior prompted Jennifer to move out of their Palisades, N.Y., estate in 2006 with their four sons—Caleb, 15, Jackson, 12, Cooper, 11, and Lincoln, 7 (Murray has two other boys from a previous marriage). The famously reclusive comedian won’t comment on his wife’s allegations. “[He] is deeply saddened by the breakup of his marriage,” said his lawyer John McDougall. “They remain committed to the best interest of their children.”

The split comes as a shock to friends who know Murray as a dedicated dad and a coach of his kids’ Little League teams. “I have never seen him in any manner whatsoever act inappropriately,” says Peter Kelly, a Piermont friend. “It’s a divorce. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out.”