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Silver Screen Brides: Elizabeth Taylor in “Father of the Bride”

Once upon a time, Elizabeth Taylor was not the legend we know and love, with Academy Awards for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? under her belt, and seven ex-husbands to her name. In 1950, she was an icon-in-the-making, and the fresh faced, 17-year-old star of Father of the Bride, alongside Spencer Tracy, who played her father.

Her first major adult role—the teenage starlet had been acting since the age of 9—Taylor played the role of blossoming bride Kay Banks with aplomb, maybe in part because she was about to become a bride herself. In a public relations dream for MGM Studio, Taylor announced her engagement—her first of eight, mind you—to William Pawley when she was first cast for the role. As it turned out, Pawley backed out of the engagement once he got wind of his future bride’s hectic filming schedule, but the stunning, talented Taylor had no trouble finding his replacement, hotel heir Conrad Nicholson “Nicky” Hilton, Jr. The two wed on May 6, 1950, perfectly timed with the film’s June release. Not surprisingly, it was a box-office smash hit.

If you’re planning a wedding, or just recovering from one, you’ll get a kick out of this original version of Father of Bride (not to be confused with the later remake starring Steve Martin). It’s like a more genteel version of Bridezillas, where all the fuss of putting on a wedding day affair to remember is seen through the sharp lens of a hilarious Spencer Tracy. While we’ll admit that Elizabeth Taylor is far too glamorous to ever really be cast as the bride from hell, it’s still reassuring to know that the trials and tribulations of the big day are a great source of comic relief. Watch the trailer here, and put this one in your Netflix queue.

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