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Marriages get made in media

The televised extravaganza next Friday of Prince William and Kate Middleton brings to mind the evolving love affair of marriage and media.

Over the last 50 years, wedding-centric movies and television shows have become a staple of American culture -- and often have reflected how people feel at the time about the whole happily-ever-after concept.

Back in the 1950s, the signature wedding film was "Father of the Bride" starring Spencer Tracy in the title role and Elizabeth Taylor as his pampered daughter. The gentle tone of the comedy was in tune with an era when marriage was an extravagant, treasured event worth any minor inconvenience to a put-upon dad.

But through the 1960s and 1970s, wedding vows were often something to avoid, as Katharine Ross did with Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," or discard, as Charles Grodin wanted to during his honeymoon in "The Heartbreak Kid."

The 1980s took a break from wow vows at the movies to make room for action heroes and John Hughes teens.

But the real action was taking place on television, where live coverage of Lady Diana and Prince Charles' wedding drew supersized ratings and led to a sequel, Sarah Ferguson's wedding to Prince Andrew.

Hollywood made peace with wedded bliss by the 1990s, when Steve Martin's "Father of the Bride" remake again captivated audiences and 1994's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" put a charming British spin on the quest for the right spouse.

The 2000s brought an explosion of interest in altar-bound love stories like box-office behemoth "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and the Katherine Heigl vehicle "27 Dresses." Weddings were back in a big way, from raucous comedies like "Wedding Crashers" and "Bride Wars" to the musical "Mamma Mia!"

In recent years, weddings have become a staple of the reality TV format, leading to solid hits like TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress," which goes behind the scenes at bridal salons to explore the quest for the perfect gown.

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