This Week In History: Feb. 8-12

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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if history is any indication, people for generations have sought to copy those whom they hold in highest regard. 

This week in history we will travel back to the Golden Age of Hollywood in post-war America, and with Valentine’s Day less than a week away, we will look at one of history’s greatest love stories that forever changed the way people celebrate love and devotion. So let’s dive in! 

On Feb. 9, 1960, 61 years ago, the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated to actress Joanne Woodward. 

In the Los Angeles landmark’s groundbreaking ceremony, the Academy Award winning actress of “The Three Faces of Eve” (1957) was of the first batch of entertainers to receive the coveted honor. First conceived in 1953, the Hollywood Walk of Fame was designed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce as a means to revitalize downtown Hollywood and attract tourism.  

For decades following Woodward’s historic achievement, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been considered by many as the ultimate mark of recognition for a lifetime of success in the entertainment industry.  

Today, the 18-block stretch receives an estimated 10 million visitors every year, with the stars of Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Ellen DeGeneres and Michael Jackson being the most visited locations. Fun fact: there are actually two Michael Jackson stars on the Walk of Fame, with one being for the “King of Pop” and another for the radio personality, but many visitors mistake the two, including at the time of the “Thriller” artist’s untimely 2009 passing, where a vigil gathered in his memory … at the wrong star. 

On Feb. 10, 1840, 181 years ago, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at St. James Palace in London, England. 

While another royal wedding may not seem like the most noteworthy event in human history, Queen Victoria’s wedding, and more specifically her dress, have proven to be one of the most influential marriage ceremonies in all of Western culture. 

Long before crowds could gawk over the gowns of Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, there was Victoria. For all you fans of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” out there, Victoria was the granddaughter of Queen Charlotte and George III, ascending to the British throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18. Naturally, the British people were nervous about their country being run by a teenager, so the young queen needed as much good publicity as possible to assure her favor with the people. 

While weddings of the past were typically arranged and only meant to secure alliances, the marriage between Victoria and Albert was one of love and romance, as revealed by Victoria’s many diary entries. As the monarch, Victoria had the power to choose her husband and actually proposed herself. Royal weddings had always been private events reserved for the highest ranks of the aristocracy. Victoria, instead opted to incorporate her subjects by riding through the streets of London in her carriage, a tradition now practiced by every royal since. The press and the public ate up her fairy-tale wedding, with news spreading throughout the English-speaking world like wildfire. 

Victoria’s dress was of particular interest, as she abandoned the ceremonial robes and regalia, and instead wore a white gown with a long train and veil adorned with white lace and white roses. Sound familiar? That’s right folks, Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, is credited with popularizing the tradition of wearing white on your wedding day. Before Victoria, white wedding dresses were rarely worn, as many favored bright colors and designs. Since women of the 19th century typically owned only a handful of dresses, wedding dresses were meant to be worn more than once, and white dresses were seen as a waste of money since they were impossible to keep clean. 

As Europe and the United States began industrializing in the late 1800s, the cost of producing fabrics and clothing significantly dropped, making it possible for people of all classes to own multiple sets of clothing. Bleaching cloth also became popular in the early 20th century, allowing any blushing bride to wear white to their own fairy-tale weddings. 

As time passed, white weddings became tied to the ideas of purity, innocence and beauty going into a marriage, yet ironically, Victoria did not pick white for this reason, but rather because she liked the way white highlighted the details of the dress’s lace. She also made an official rule that she and her bridesmaids were the only ones allowed to wear white for the special event, a rule that has stuck ever since. 

While Victoria wore black for the last 40 years of her life, following the death of her beloved husband, she will always be remembered by the white lace of the dress that started it all. 

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