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In a new arena, in Armani

Nana Glen (Australia), April 7 (Reuters): Hollywood bad boy Russell Crowe, drawing a line under his womanising days, married long-time girlfriend Danielle Spencer today in a traditional wedding on his Australian cattle property.

Oscar-winning Crowe has earned himself a reputation as a hard drinking, brawling movie star in the mould of Hollywood legends such as the late Richard Harris, one of his best friends.

But this evening, the star of the sword and sandal epic Gladiator and frontman for grunge band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt walked down the aisle dressed in classy Armani threads.

Crowe, who turned 39 on his wedding day, exchanged traditional marriage vows with Spencer, a 32-year-old singer, dancer and actor, inside a specially built domed chapel on his farm here.

“We’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Spencer said in an email to fans on Crowe’s website www.gruntland.com. The couple did not release any further comments to the media.

An official wedding video showed Crowe, with a wedding ring on his finger, and Spencer getting showered with confetti as they left the chapel arm-in-arm.

“Now we welcome Mr and Mrs Crowe,” an announcer said as Crowe, shown cuddling and whispering to his bride, entered the wedding reception marquee under the stars on a balmy Autumn evening.

The 100-odd guests included Texas Governor Rick Perry, The Gladiator director Ridley Scott, New Zealand cricketer and cousin Jeff Crowe, Australian cricketer Shane Warne and wife Simone and New Zealand singer Wendy Matthews who sang The Water is Wide during the ceremony.

An array of messages from well-wishers made up for the lack of Hollywood superstars.

Elton John and Sting, US President George W. Bush, Giorgio Armani, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Australia’s richest man and media magnate Kerry Packer, and Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks were among those wishing the couple well.

The bride was clad in a floor-length figure-hugging satin Armani dress with a plunging back, high split and tiny straps. The gown was entirely covered by cream-coloured Valencien lace embroidered with ivory and silver pearls. Completing the look was a translucent organza veil and satin sandals.

Her bouquet was an array of white and cream roses intertwined with Singapore orchids.

The flower girls and bridesmaids wore muted teal blue Cadiz silk beaded gowns.

Sporting a ponytail, Crowe was dressed in a tuxedo, waistcoat embroidered with the Crowe and Spencer family crests, white shirt and black bow tie.

Spencer had spent last night off the farm so that she could make a traditional entrance on her father’s arm.

But the wedding was not all romance and tradition. A trio of Harley Davidson motorbikes and a black utility truck accompanied the bride’s black Mercedes, and tonnes of sound equipment were hauled onto Crowe’s property for a night of music and dancing.

Spencer waved and smiled at the waiting paparazzi as she drove onto the property and disappeared up a winding gravelled road which had been freshly sprinkled with water to keep the dust to a minimum.

“She was very friendly, smiling, and looked just like a princess,” said Dutch fan Anneloes Derks, as some 30 locals cheered Spencer’s arrival this afternoon.

Schoolchildren from the Nana Glen Primary School, who are getting a new swimming pool courtesy Crowe, had lined the route through the village, waving and cheering Spencer on as helicopters buzzed overhead.

Guards patrolled the Oscar-winning actor’s property in the hills behind Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales, around 400 km north of Sydney, to stop paparazzi from entering.

Around 20 photographers and cameramen, with trucks and satellite dishes, were camped on the side of a narrow two-lane country road that winds past the entrance to Crowe’s property.

But logging trucks constantly roared past the gate to the 800-acre property, whipping up a pall of dust and clouding their prying lenses.

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