Valerie Velardi was Robin Williams first wife, and their marriage did not end on a high note.
Williams would be married three times before his death on August 11, 2014. But while the transition from his second marriage to third marriage went fairly smoothly, with a friend telling People magazine that he and second wife Marsha Garces split in an “amicable” fashion, the first transition did not.
At the age of 35, Williams found himself torn between Velardi, whom he married nine years prior in 1978, and Garces, a late 20s Filipino-American who had been hired by Velardi as the live-in nanny for baby Zachary.
People reported that the turmoil finally led to Williams and Velardi signing a private, out-of-court separation agreement in 1988 that included shared custody of Zachary on a flexible basis.
“When Robin is out of town (as he often is), the boy lives with his mother in her San Francisco apartment; when Robin is at home in another section of the city, Zachary spends as much time as possible with him,” it reported.
“Note that when Zach is with Robin he’s with Marsha too. Robin now lives with Marsha, who is both his secretary-assistant and (as he explains with a glow you could see from the moon) ‘the one who makes my heart sing.'”
Williams noted that the main problem at the time was Velardi’s anger over what happened, which reportedly included an extramarital relationship with Michelle Tish Carter, a cocktail waitress
“What I’m trying to do now,” he said at the time, “is to work with Valerie to transform our marriage into a relationship in which we share Zachary and do all we can to make him happy. I expect my involvement with Valerie to go on until I die.”
A friend of Velardi’s said: “She’s not going to talk about it for publication, but Valerie’s furious. What do you expect? Here’s somebody who worked for her, and now Robin’s living with her. Of course she’s angry.”
Williams and Velardi met in 1976 in a tavern in San Francisco, a city where he worked as a bartender while starting a career in comedy, and she was waiting tables while taking a graduate degree at Mills College.
Apparently Velardi’s push for Williams to get out of his routine led to his first big break–his own show on ABC as Mork, a character he trotted out on Happy Days several times.
Williams and Velardi were married in June 1978. Following their divorce in 1988, he married Garces in April 1989–Marsha was already pregnant.
Williams eventually split with Garces as well, in 2008, and later married his third wife Susan Schneider in 2011.
The splits are estimated to have cost the actor over $20 million. Was that all his money?
“Well, not all. Lost enough. Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but they changed it to ‘alimony.’ It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet,” he joked to Parade. “Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No.”