Celebrity divorces are often messy, drawn-out affairs, and the case of Steve Harvey and his ex-wife Mary Lee Harvey is no exception. Fans may know the King of Comedy as the mustachioed host of Family Feud and a namesake talk show, but details of his personal life are anything but a laughing matter.
After getting his first taste as a stand-up in 1985, Harvey survived three years of homelessness on his way to fame. In 1993, he made his TV debut as the host of Showtime at the Apollo. His syndicated talk show Steve Harvey, which aired from 2012-2017, won two Daytime Emmy Awards.
Harvey currently juggles various projects including hosting a Facebook web series, Family Feud, and the Miss Universe pageant.
In his personal life, the entertainer has been married three times and is the father of seven children. For the multiple women who’ve been linked to the entertainer, Steve Harvey’s ex-wife Mary Lee Harvey is something of a stand-out. Find out more about his second marriage to Mary Lee and where their relationship stands today.
Who Is Mary Lee Harvey?
Mary Lee Harvey (née Shackefford) was born on October 20th, 1960 in Texas. She is the second wife of Steve Harvey. Little is known about her early life and career, except that she was a professional make-up artist at the time she met her future ex-husband.
Steve Harvey met Mary Lee in Arlington, Texas in 1989 when he was still a stand-up comedian. The couple got married in 1996, but ultimately got divorced in 2005. They both have children from previous marriages but share one biological child, son Wynton, who was born on July 18, 1997.
Why Steve And Mary Lee Harvey Got Divorced
In 2011, Mary Lee came forward with her side of the story. She says she intercepted a confidential letter that was addressed to Steve and delivered to the couple’s LA home. In it, a mistress revealed the details of their affair.
In another incident, she took a phone call at their home from a woman who claimed to be checking on a job application to work for Steve. Mary Lee responded, “Well I don’t believe I’m taking applications in my kitchen.” The call raised red flags for his then-wife, and for good reason—the woman on the other end of the line was Marjorie Bridges, Steve’s mistress, and future third wife.
Mary Lee was allegedly traumatized by their split. She made numerous media appearances to reveal that Harvey never showed up to their divorce hearing. She was devastated that he took Wynton from her and claimed that he left her broke and homeless.
Steve sued Mary Lee, claiming she was the reason he was denied a show on Oprah’s OWN network. He also had his lawyers draft a letter for her to sign, claiming that she was entirely responsible for the negative rumors about the entertainer.
Harvey briefly addressed the issue on his morning talk show but took zero responsibility for any of the accusations that were floating in the media. He only said that he was sorry that his family and children had to suffer as a result. For a glimpse into both perspectives, check out this 2011 interview with Mary Lee from HLN:
How The Divorce Got Even Messier
It turns out, Mary Lee wasn’t left destitute as she originally claimed. According to court documents released in February 2011, she was paid $40,000 a month from 2005 to 2009 and received a $1.5 million lump sum thereafter. She was also awarded three homes in their property settlement. However, Steve won primary custody of Wynton and relocated him to Atlanta.
Mary Lee was ordered by a judge to cease talking about the divorce and custody case, but she violated the order and continued to speak publicly about the split. In December 2013, she was arrested and spent a month in jail after a judge found her in contempt of court.
“I didn’t violate any court orders,” Vaughn told a local FOX station in Texas. “This is about ‘You’re not supposed to be talking to anybody about your divorce.’ That’s what they’re saying. I’m like, this is America.”
“Am I angry? Yes,” she continued. “I missed six years of my son’s life and I can’t get those years back. I’m just a mother who wants to have access to my son without interference.”
In 2017, she sued her ex-husband for $60 million. She charged Steve Harvey with a laundry list of offenses, including child endangerment, torture, conspiracy against rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and even something she refers to as “soul murder.” A judge dismissed the suit the following year.
As of 2020, Mary Lee is reported to have a net worth of $500,000. Meanwhile, Harvey enjoys a generous salary of $40 million per year. She’s kept quiet about their 16-year marriage ever since her last failed lawsuit, but we hope she finds closure on the matter.