Tony Award-winning actor Ben Vereen has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.
Court documents that were filed in Los Angeles show the actor filed the divorce petition on Thursday, citing the standard “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for their split.
The actor/dancer married Nancy Bruner Vereen in July of 1976 after meeting on the set of a play, but the couple became legally separated in March according to court documents.
Vereen, 65, won a Tony Award for Best Actor in 1973 for his role in Pippin and has appeared in many movies and on television.
The 65-year-old star is best know for his role as Chicken George in the miniseries “Roots” which landed him an Emmy nomination in 1977.
The actor has also appeared on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” as Will Smith’s “real” father and has guest-starred on “How I Met Your Mother”.
Ben Vereen is asking the court to deny his estranged wife’s request to collect spousal support.
The couple have several adult children. His 16-year-old daughter, Naja, was killed in an auto accident in 1987 on the New Jersey Turnpike when a truck overturned on her car.
Vereen had an interesting personal life. Hediscovered he was adopted while applying for a passport in the late 1960s. His birth certificate revealed that his birth name was Benjamin Augustus Middleton, that he was the son of Essie Middleton, and that he was born in Laurinburg, North Carolina.
In April 2006, Vereen visited Laurinburg with a genealogist and found out his birth mother’s name was Essie May Pearson, who had died 24 years before.
Friends of his late mother said she had gone on a trip when Ben was a child, and had left her baby in someone’s care. When she returned, the child was gone. He discovered several other siblings that he reunited with in 2006.