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SHORT TAKES : Cantinflas: No Laughing Matter

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

Mario Moreno, the Mexican comic known as Cantinflas to millions of Spanish-speaking fans, accused a Houston woman and her attorney of blackmail for threatening to publicize details of a divorce suit, a newspaper reported today.

On June 19, a Harris County family court judge awarded Joyce Jett a record $26 million in her divorce suit against Moreno. The comic, 78, who lives in Mexico and denies being married to Jett, refuses to pay the settlement.

Cantinflas is best known to English-speaking audiences for his role as Passepartout, David Niven’s faithful companion in “Around the World in 80 Days.”

The comic said his attorneys filed civil charges against Jett; her attorney, J. Michael Solar, and others in a Mexican court to “clear his name.” He referred other legal inquiries to the lawyers, who could not be reached.

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Moreno said Solar wrote him a letter April 22 saying: “Be advised that you have until 1700 hours on Thursday, April 26, 1990, to bring this matter to a ‘private’ conclusion, after which time it is my intention to fully discuss the particulars surrounding your life together and the pending divorce with any interested party.”

Solar characterized the letter as a “statement of fact” required by the court. He said he and Jett initially agreed not to talk to the media about the divorce if Moreno agreed to settle the case.

"(We’re saying) if you want to settle, that’s fine,” Solar said. “But if not, we will not extend any courtesies.”

Solar also said he and Jett would not respond to the charges in Mexico, which he called “part of ongoing retaliation.” He said the Mexican court has no jurisdiction.

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Solar had presented documents showing that Moreno and Jett shared their lives for 22 years, although they apparently never legally formalized the relationship. Jett filed for divorce in August, citing mental and physical abuse.


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