Though her 14-month-old son Aleph was likely too young to serve as ring bearer, Natalie Portman's wedding with his dad Benjamin Millepied this past weekend was the latest example of a Hollywood star putting the baby carriage before the marriage. The intimate Big Sur bash at a private home signaled the Harvard graduate was finally ready to commit to her husband -- almost two years after finding out she was pregnant with his child.
Ironically, the media's biggest question about the secret ceremony was who designed the A-lister's dress.
The Israeli born brunette began dating the French choreographer in the fall of 2009 while filming "Black Swan," a dark movie about ballet dancers. Rumors swirled last February the two had secretly wed, partly fueled by Portman and Millepied wearing matching rings at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony. But last Saturday night's wedding proved the rumor was false.
Historically, actresses who gave birth out of wedlock had to hide their pregnancies, and they would never allow themselves to be caught out in public pushing an Orbit Baby without a husband by their side.
Back in 1935, an unwed Loretta Young gave birth to a baby girl she conceived with Clark Gable, the film legend with whom she co-starred in "The Call of the Wild." Due to a "morals clause" in her contract, Young had to hide the pregnancy and 19 months later she told the media she had adopted an orphan.
To avoid being seen pregnant, the star kept a low profile by pretending she had a "mysterious illness." She even embellished her story by having a reporter interview her in her ninth month of pregnancy while lying on her so-called deathbed.
Perhaps even more extreme, Young forced her daughter to endure a painful ear surgery when she was just seven because her ears stuck out just like Clark Gable's. Prior to the operation, the little girl always wore a bonnet when she had her picture taken to cover the prominent feature she shared with her biological father.
The "Bedtime Story" actress's daughter, who became known as Judy Lewis, grew up thinking she was adopted and did not even learn the actor who played the rakish Rhett Butler from "Gone with the Wind" was her real father until she was in her 30s. She confronted her mother, who reluctantly admitted her true paternity, though she made Lewis promise to "never tell anybody else."
Young allegedly explained to her grown daughter (who ironically acted in TV soap operas), "He was married, so when I discovered I was pregnant with you, I was frantic and terrified. It would have ruined both our careers, a scandal like that."
Fast forward to today when celebs galavant around the globe with their unmarried partners and mutual offspring. Perhaps the poster children for this trend are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- co-parents to six kids -- who finally got engaged this spring (though they have yet to announce an actual wedding date).
The historical contrast between shaming unmarried pregnant actresses and celebrating today's female stars who flaunt their children prior to the wedding mirrors a profound change in America's social mores. Between 2003 and 2010, about 27 percent of all births were to women not married to the baby's father -- a big jump from only 9.4 percent before 1985.
Statistically, better educated women are less likely to have a baby before getting married. The exception is Hollywood, of course, where what wedding dress you wear is more important than when you wear it.
In the case of Portman, the smart money is on Dior.
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Natalie Portman
- Benjamin Millepied
- Clark Gable
- Clark Gable
- Loretta Young