True Romance

The newlyweds (my parents) married at home in 1947. Aren’t they a good-looking couple?

Everyone loves a wedding.  Why else crash? They’re so much more fun than a parade or a circus, although sometimes they are a circus.

In 2000 a FOX television producer attending a relative’s wedding, presumably caught up in the excitement of the festivities, conceived of the game show Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?  In the two-hour special fifty willing brides-to-be competed in a beauty-pageant-style contest, answering questions about themselves and parading in swimsuits and evening wear, although not tap dancing or tossing a baton.  By the time the predetermined groom, Rick Rockwell, slipped a thirty-five thousand dollar, three-carat ring on the finger of the so-called lucky winner, Darva Conger, twenty-two million wedding guests were enthralled with the proceedings from the comfort of their living rooms.

Like so many spur-of-the moment unions it was a bust, Conger filing for an annulment as soon as she could, and critics assailed the show, never to be aired again, as a new low in television programming. However, the ratings spoke for themselves.

Over the past decade several so-called reality television series have been based on couples meeting, falling in love, and getting married on camera.  That’s certainly the premise behind The Bachelor and its many spin-offs. On the first season of The Bachelorette, Trista Rehn chose Ryan Sutter.  They married – and happily so – on a three-episode special for which they were paid a million dollars.

None of the other contestants has faired as well.

And, of course, there’s Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, whose relationship, beginning, middle and end, was filmed as part of the on-going Kardashian money-making machine. The event cost an estimated $10 million, but the couple netted $18 million in network and photo rights.  Well, we all know how that turned out.

But sometimes true romance is captured for a viewing audience. Bride and Groom, an old time radio show in the late forties, featured a real-life bride and groom. The couple told their love story:  how they met, where he proposed, and what she said when she accepted.  The ceremony was then held in private at the chapel on the grounds of the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.  When the program moved to television in 1950, the ceremony took place in front of the camera.

For sharing, the newlyweds were showered with gifts – silverware, towels, and appliances, those sorts of things, to set up their household.  As a memento, they received a 16MM copy of their marriage.

The weekday show was so popular it ran for three years.  For many of the participants the run lasted a lifetime.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Happy 10th! Or is It?

The daffodil: the flower of choice, representing happiness, on 10-year wedding anniversaries. Photo by: robynejay

Anyone who has made it to their tenth wedding anniversary knows what an important milestone it is.  After working through traditional symbols of having walked down the aisle – paper for the first year, cotton for the second, leather for the third, etc., you’ve reached tin and aluminum.  Congratulations!

Although these metals don’t represent romance or love, they are pliable and durable, qualities needed for a successful relationship.

Julia Roberts has these features in abundance.  She has been a leading lady since Mystic Pizza in 1988.  Although not her first marriage, she tied the knot with cameraman Danny Moder on July 4, 2002 when she gathered friends and family to her New Mexico ranch to celebrate the holiday and participate in the surprise ceremony.  They are still together with reason to mark the date.

Liza Minnelli had no such concerns about privacy when she married event producer David Gest on March 16, 2002.  It was a spectacle followed by an extravagant party for an intimate gathering of 850 of their closest friends and family. The excitement lasted for months.  Too bad that the marriage was over in 2003 when Gest sued Minnelli for damages he alleged she had inflicted upon him.  Their legal battles continued for years.

Paul McCartney never asked Heather Mills to sign a prenup before their 2002 wedding because he was in love.  When he filed for divorce citing “unreasonable behavior” in 2006, she vowed to fight back.  While she was awarded less that a fifth of what she asked, a $48 million dollar settlement can soothe the soul.

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey became a pop culture phenomenon when their October 26, 2002 nuptials led to their starring on MTV’s reality television program Newlyweds.  But making the relationship work was much more difficult than winning the hearts and minds of their followers, Jessica having many more fans than Nick.  When she filed for divorce in 2005, she asked the court not to award spousal support.

Nicholas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley won’t be celebrating together this year either.  Her throwing her $65,000 engagement ring overboard shortly before their August 10th Hawaiian wedding should have been a cue that it wouldn’t work out. Their on-again/off-again relationship ended just 107 days after it began.

It’s not easy being married to a celebrity.  It’s not easy being married period.  But Gwen Stefani and fellow musician Gavin Rossdale will celebrate their 10th anniversary in September, possibly because they keep their relationship out of the media.  Best wishes to them.  And daffodils to all you lovebirds who have made it work!

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Going to the Chapel of the Stars

A popular GI slogan during World War II was “I want a girl just like a girl that married Harry James.”

Here’s looking at you!

That girl was Betty Grable.  Everyone was crazy for her.  Ten million copies of her dressed in a one-piece, backless swimsuit, smiling coyly over her shoulder, were distributed, and the poster was plastered on billboards and barrack walls everywhere.

When the couple met, she was the number one actress at the box office. He was the leader of the country’s hottest band and universally regarded as the greatest trumpet player in the world.  After extricating herself from her relationship with actor George Raft (a public  fist fight he lost to James took care of that) and he got a quickie Mexican divorce from his first wife, they made plans to marry quietly at the Little Church of the West on the grounds of the Frontier Hotel, giving rise to the myth that they were the first celebrity couple to wed there.

But it wasn’t so.

The ardent fans and eager photographers who crowded the grounds so put off the soon-to-be newlyweds that they retreated to their hotel.  A Baptist minister performed the ceremony in their room in the early hours of July 5, 1943.  Despite James’ penchant for drinking, gambling, and philandering, they were married for twenty-two years.

Still, the Little Church of the West does have a roster of famous names who crossed its threshold to marital bliss, if only for a short period of time, giving it the nickname “Chapel of the Stars.”  Here are some of them.

Zsa Zsa Gabor married British actor George Sanders in 1949.  While he was purportedly the love of her life, they divorced in 1954.  By the way, Gabor also married her sixth and seventh husbands in Las Vegas.  As we all know, those marriages didn’t work out either.

Back at you!

Judy Garland took Mark Herron to be her fourth, but not her last, husband in an impromptu, middle of the night ceremony in 1965.  He left her several months later when he learned that he was responsible for half of her debts.

For one of Hollywood’s most glamorous couples, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford showed up casually dressed in 1991.  Their marriage ended in 1995 due to personality differences.  He was a Buddhist, and she wasn’t.

And there’s Angelina Jolie and Billie Bob Thornton who wed in 2000.  They took up wearing vials of each other’s blood around their necks, purchased joint grave plots, and shared a love of tattoos.  Just over two years after they had gotten together, Billy Bob took off on tour to promote his rock album and Angelina stayed home with baby.

For a Vegas wedding among the stars that didn’t come off exactly as planned, Betty and Harry didn’t do so badly after all.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


To hear Harry James play “The Flight of the Bumblebee,” click here:


Wedding Bell Blues — The First of a Series

Wedding Bell Bliss. Photo by: *Lou*

“I always used to think that marriages were a simple affair.  Boy meets girl.  Falls  in love.  They get married.  Have babies.  Eventually the babies grow up and meet other babies. They fall in love.  Get married.  Have babies. And so on and on and on.  Looked at that way, it’s not only simple, it’s downright monotonous.  But I was wrong. I figured without the wedding.”

So says Spencer Tracy as Stanley T. Banks in Father of the Bride in 1950.

Throughout the movie Banks tries to keep the wedding plans for his daughter, played by Elizabeth Taylor in her first adult role, from spinning out of control.  Good luck!

Every expense is mind-blowing.  Four-hundred dollars for a wedding cake?  Eighty-five dollars for an orchestra?  “You mean we pay for the church?” “What are people going to say when I’m in the gutter because I tried to put on a wedding like a Roman emperor?” he asks his wife.

But Joan Bennett as the mother of the bride understands. “A wedding. A church wedding. Well it’s, it’s what every girl dreams of.  A bridal dress, the orange blossoms, the music. It’s something lovely to remember all the rest of her life,” she explains. “And something for us to remember, too.

So, too, were Taylor’s nuptials to Nicky Hilton, son of Conrad Hilton of Hilton hotels.  It took place in May, one month before the movie was released.

In preparation for her wedding day money was certainly no object.  Elizabeth and her mother traveled to Chicago for her sterling silver flatware, Limoges china, Swedish crystal, and Italian lace-trimmed sheets.  And then they went on to New York to put together her trousseau.  All bills were sent to her future husband.

On the big day her studio, MGM, did its part, making sure everything was perfect, her gown, her hair, her make up.  And it was.

The excitement on the streets was palpable. Crowds lined the route to the Church of The Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.  When Elizabeth, then only eighteen years old, stepped out of the limousine, ten thousand onlookers cheered.

Invitations had gone out to the who’s who of Hollywood.  Mickey Rooney, who had been one of her leading men, was there with his third wife.  After the formal Roman Catholic ceremony seven hundred guests attended the reception at the Bel Air Country Club.

The groom, who had practically swept his bride off her feet in planting a wet one, was actually less than enthusiastic about the event.  The marriage wasn’t consummated for three days.

The couple officially separated in December after seven months, and she received her divorce decree at the end of January, 1951.

If only Elizabeth had listened to the warning signs.  Good friends had told her that Hilton was a gambler, a drinker, and a womanizer.  Then again, she was just getting started.

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Here Comes the Bride Again

Initially, an outpouring of good cheer greeted the announcement of Marie Osmond’s remarriage to her first husband, Stephen Craig, this past May twenty-five years after they had divorced.  As her brother Donny pointed out, “They decided you know, ‘We still love each other, and it’s time to get back together again.’”

Then came the comments and criticism, as bloggers took to their computers.

A marriage counselor recommended not trying this yourself unless you’re ready to trust again.

A relationship expert warned that the same troubles arise and cause heartache all over again.

Another quoted Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Gossip columnists called up similar situations and made comparisons to other celebrities, warning that the odds weren’t good for the newlyweds.

The on again off again over-heated love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was most frequently mentioned, their off screen lives garnering as much attention and publicity as their movie star turns on the big screen.  They tied and untied the knot twice as the world watched.  “You can’t keep clapping a couple of sticks (of dynamite) together,” Burton philosophized, “Without expecting them to blow up.”

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner also did it twice.  The first time jealousy and petty disagreements drove them apart.  Nine years into their second marriage she died tragically in a boating accident.

Certainly neither of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s two trips down the aisle ended well for them as a couple.

While this doesn’t bode well for the Craigs, it seems dire for Barbie and Ken.

Kiss and Make Up. Photo by: madelineyoki

In 2004 the playful pair split up after forty-three years of fun and games in the sun.  Rumors were going around that Barbie had hooked up with an Australian surfer dude called Blaine.  They were apparently true.

Earlier this year Ken decided all was forgiven.  He went public, professing his love on billboards in Times Square.  “Barbie,” he sentimentalized, “we were made for each other.”

Barbie fell for it.  “No doll can resist a sweet talker like Ken,” she said in an interview.  His role in Toy Story 3 undoubtedly improved his stature.

No one knows what the future holds.  But it’s a pretty good guess that for better or worse little girls everywhere will be buying diminutive wedding dresses, small-sized evening clothes, and lots of tiny accessories for the happy couple to celebrate their reunion.

© 2011 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


Look at those bells.  This is exciting.  I like it.  Let’s go.

—  Albert Brooks, in front of the Wedding Bells Wedding Chapel, in Lost in America, 1985