NEW YORK (Reuters) - A British actress who found YouTube fame after posting monologues about her failed marriage to a Broadway theater owner and producer defended her popular videos in a New York court on Thursday.
Tricia Walsh Smith, 49, is fighting a claim by her husband, Philip Smith, 74, president of the Shubert Organization, that she engaged in spousal abuse by making the YouTube videos, which she says have been viewed more than 4 million times.
During the first day of their divorce trial, Walsh Smith said she made the videos after her millionaire husband threatened to leave her penniless. Several of the videos, made in the couple’s Manhattan apartment, were played in court.
In them Walsh Smith accuses her husband and his daughters of conspiring to evict her from the plush apartment, and says she discovered her husband hoarding the impotence drug Viagra even though they never had sex.
“We don’t live in the Middle East. I don’t have to walk three steps behind my husband. I‘m entitled to get angry and have an opinion,” said Smith, who wore black-rimmed glasses and a brown button-down dress.
She said that she sent mass e-mails, including one with a link to one of the YouTube videos, to “everybody in the theater world” to ensure that friends and business associates of her husband would see it.
Philip Smith’s lawyer, David Aronson, described his client as “petrified of publicity of any kind.” He said that Smith’s wife had said “horrible, horrible” things about her husband “for all the world to see.”
Philip Smith, who wore a pinstriped suit and walked with a cane, showed no emotion during his wife’s testimony.
Walsh Smith insisted that she was the victim.
After living with Smith for 13 years, she faced immediate eviction from their apartment and believed she would not have access to any money guaranteed by a prenuptial agreement until after the divorce was finalized, she said.
She said she agreed to multiple interviews, for a fee, after becoming a YouTube star because she had no other income. “The press, the media saved me,” she said.
Since the couple split about a year ago, she said she had earned about $88,000 from newspaper and television interviews in the United States and Britain.
“I didn’t know what else to do because I had no money ... I‘m not just going to slink off into Central Park,” she said.
The hearing is expected to continue for several more days.
Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Beech