The legal wrangles between Lorenzo Lamas and former wife Michele Smith are enough to give the plot spinners on Dallas, Dynasty and Lamas’ own Falcon Crest an inferiority complex. After all, when was the last time they dreamed up drama as dishy and dragged out as the recent Lamas doings in Los Angeles Superior Court? It’s already a case of ex-spouse against ex-spouse, mother against daughter, and nanny against employer. Now a new twist has been added. Michele, 31, a former publicist, wants the court to order Lorenzo, 30, son of Arlene Dahl and the late Fernando Lamas, to spend more time with their children—Alvaro Joshua, 4, known as A.J., and Shayne Dahl, 3. This is a first for California and perhaps the nation. Sure, estranged spouses have gone back to court to demand money, but never to demand more time from an ex. To this end, Michele, who was married to the actor for less than two years, is also making a legal request to learn Lamas’ current address and phone numbers.
Determining Lorenzo’s current address (somewhere in Malibu; she’s in Encino) would be an easier task than figuring out the machinations of his love life. Twice married (the first time to model Victoria Hilbert), three times engaged (most recently to Falcon Crest co-star Robin Greer), the dallying Lamas now lives with actress Daphne Ashbrook, 25, and their 2-month-old daughter, Paton Lee Lamas. The couple has no plans to marry, possibly because Lorenzo has already logged more court time than Andre Agassi.
“I am attempting to establish a new legal theory,” says Michele’s lawyer, William J. Glucksman, a Marvin Mitchelson associate. In her lawsuit, Michele claims that A.J. and Shayne usually see their father only when they’re watching Falcon Crest. When he’s not on the air, the suit claims, Lamas gives his kids the air. Instead of seeing the children on a weekly basis, says Glucksman, Lamas has taken them only a few times. “Said neglect of A.J. and Shayne,” reads the complaint, might cause the children “to feel abandoned and suffer emotional and psychological instability.”
“The allegations that have been raised by my ex-wife Michele are totally unfounded,” Lamas replied in a prepared statement. “I love and support my children. I see them regularly and as often as humanly possible and have since the day of the divorce.”
Since Smith and Lamas split in early 1985, they’ve indulged in enough mud-slinging to make a presidential media adviser proud. She charged him with physical abuse; he charged her with substance abuse. Michele, pregnant with the couple’s second child, requested a chunk of Lamas’ more than $500,000 annual income. Lamas allegedly closed out the joint bank account. Lamas asked the court to forbid Michele to take A.J. out of town, since it would keep the baby from his daddy, his nanny and his grandmothers. “I also reasonably believe that the real reason that Michele wants to ‘get away,’ ” claimed Lamas, “is to be able to indulge in substance abuse…even greater than she presently suffers.”
“This is another deliberate act of harassment by my husband,” was Michele’s returning salvo. “It is necessary for me to get away from Los Angeles for a period of time since I am pregnant and under much pressure.” Some of the pressure had to do with Lamas’ alleged abduction of the couple’s dog, Hits.
Then Michele’s mother, Joy Smith, got into the fray, advising the court that her daughter’s emotional instability made her an inappropriate caretaker for A.J. The boy’s nanny, Aura Mendoza, also had her say in court, accusing Michele of calling her a “dirty Latin” and a “fat pig” and, more significantly, of engaging in “serious substance abuse.”
The court temporarily ruled that A.J. could live with Smith as long as the nanny was present. Eventually Smith and Lamas agreed to joint legal and physical custody, and no further legal action of consequence was taken until the recent suit.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo continued working on Falcon Crest, where he met Robin Greer (who played Dina) and Daphne Ashbrook (who had a small role). Lamas’ 13-month engagement to Greer ended in September 1987. A month later he started dating Ashbrook. She moved in with Lamas last Christmas, and the actor has kept a fairly low profile since. The new case is now bringing him back into the legal spotlight, which may not be an entirely bad thing. At least it might put him back in touch with old associates. “I haven’t seen Lorenzo or Daphne for at least four months,” says a coworker. “I do know that they had a baby, though. How many does that make for him?”
—Joanne Kaufman, and Karen G. Jackovich in Los Angeles