Great Romances of the 20th Century | Season 1
From the fairytale romance of the Prince and the showgirl, to the King who renounced his throne for love, to the dictator and his mistress who ended their lives in a suicide pact, these are some of the greatest love stories ever told. Plundering a wealth of film archive, these programmes take viewers behind-the-scenes and unlock the secrets to the headline romances which captured the imagination of us all. It is the largest and most internationally based series on this subject ever produced.
1. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
He was a playboy prince. She was the cool blonde showgirl whose name had been linked to several of her leading
men. It was the wedding of the decade and the ancient principality of Monaco was besieged by fans and the media
circus. But after the jetset fairytale romance, the Hollywood star had difficulty adjusting to royal life, and though their
marriage lasted it was ended in a tragic motoring accident.
2. Jackie Kennedy and JFK
Jackie Bouvier’s marriage to John F Kennedy sealed a high-profile political relationship. But there was far more to Jackie
than a dutiful wife coping with her husband’s philandering.
3. Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas
He was a powerful Greek shipping tycoon. She was the greatest opera singer of her time. The charismatic Onassis
was enthralled by the diva, and Maria soon fell headlong into a tumultuous emotional odyssey that was to last a
decade and wreak havoc with her career. It was a Greek tragedy that led to an early death.
4. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
He was King of Hollywood, adored by millions of women as the quintessential he-man. She was an incomparable,
wise-cracking comedienne who knew just how to handle the fragile ego beneath the rugged exterior of the man she
loved.Their marriage was not always smooth but they remained devoted and, after Lombard died in a plane crash in
1942, Gable was never the same again.
5. Juan and Evita Peron
Was it simply love for Juan Peron, or burning ambition, that set Evita on the road from rags to riches and corruption
to become Argentina’s First Lady?
6. Winston and Clementine Churchill
The story of an enduring love match between two intelligent and forceful personalities. Clementine gave great
strength to Britain’s great war leader and helped him to weather the storms of his changeable political career.
7. Greta Garbo and John Gilbert
The enigmatic actress was swept off her feet by the charming, silent star, but both their careers were almost destroyed
when he took on Hollywood’s mightiest moguls.
8. Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun
They met after his first love’s suicide. The daughter of a master craftsman and the Führer of Germany. Eva’s diaries
and photograph album plus rare archive film shot at his Bavarian idyll at Berchtesgarten exposes the petty tyrannies
and frustrations of Hitler’s secret romance with Eva Braun, which ended in a suicide pact as enemy forces closed in.
9. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
They were Hollywood's greatest match: a flamboyant couple that could neither live with nor without one another.
They were married and divorced twice but, even when married to other people, continued to care for each other
to Burton’s death.
10. Edward and Mrs Simpson
He was the uncrowned King of England, and as such was forbidden to marry a Catholic. She was an American
divorcee, and an adherent of the forbidden faith. In a scandal that could have brought down the British Monarchy,
Edward VIII gave up his throne for love and they lived in exile until they died.
11. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh
They were two of the biggest stars of stage and screen, and when they met both were married. Their affair was
passionate and stormy, but survived the pressures of stardom and rivalry until Vivien Leigh contracted tuberculosis
and gradually her whole personality began to change.
12. Nicholas and Alexandra
Archive film reveals the private moments of a remote royal family. Theirs was a union that was beset by tragedy:
haemophilia, war and ultimately revolution and death by revolution. Alexandra’s faith kept her strong, but her loyalty
to Rasputin fuelled speculation about her fidelity.
13. Amelia Earhardt and George Puttnam
A fascinating insight into the life of the American female aviator who disappeared on a round-the-world flight. But
without the adventurer and publisher, George Palmer Puttnam, she might never have performed any of her recordbreaking
feats.Their marriage was as intriguing as her clandestine life.
14. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia
He was a handsome monarch without a throne. She was a pretty Greek princess.Their wedding in Athens on May
14 1962 was a grand affair attended by most of the European royal families, but much of their married life was spent
in exile until the Spanish dictator General Franco died in 1975. Juan Carlos played a vital role in steering Spain towards
democracy, a task made easier by the courage and the support of his wife.
15. George VI and The Queen Mother
Greeted by an uncertain public following his brother, Edward VIII’s abdication, George VI and his beautiful young wife
Mary, went on to become an inspiration to the nation during World War II. But he never wanted to become king and
the strain led to his early death.
16. Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini
The beautiful Swedish actress won the hearts of Hollywood, but her at the height of her fame an illicit affair with
Italian film director Roberto Rossellini shocked the world and almost ruined her career.
17. Howard Hughes and Ava Gardner
She was a sultry sex goddess and he was a multi-millionaire playboy, aircraft designer, part-time movie producer and
reclusive eccentric. Of all of the beautiful women in the world, she was the only woman who ever succeeded in
capturing his heart.
18. De Gaulle and Yvonne Vendroux
In public he was aloof and intimidating. In private he was romantic and emotional. Theirs was a marriage which was
to survive war, exile and the heartbreak of a mentally retarded daughter.Throughout the enduring love of Charles de
Gaulle’s wife was an inspiration to the great French military leader and President.
19. Charles and Oona Chaplin
He was 54, the former Silent Screen megstar tramp recovering from a breakdown after being accused of communism.
She was just 18, the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, who objected strongly to their relationship. After three
disastrous marriages and a succession of love affairs, Charlie Chaplin had found happiness at last. They moved to
Switzerland and had eight children.
20. Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn
The 'tough guy' American writer met his match in one of America's most respected and daring war correspondents.
They met during the Spanish civil war. She was Hemingway’s third wife and the only one to leave him when he grew
intolerant of her career, competitive spirit and frequent absences. It was a romance forged in war and broken in rivalry.
21. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
It was a magical first meeting, which led to the White House. Eleanor Roosevelt was the woman who defined the role
of America’s First Lady, as she supported and cared for her husband through his political career and long illness.
22. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” It was almost love at first sight
on the set of Howard Hawks’ To Have And Have Not when the moody tough guy played opposite the 19-year-old,
tall willowy blonde with the huskiest of voices. The exchange, crackling with sexual static, was the prelude to a
passionate love affair and one of the happiest marriages in Tinseltown.
23. William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies
Orson Welles’ masterpiece, Citizen Kane, was based on the extraordinary life of Randolph Hearst.When the 51-yearold,
fabulously wealthy, newspaper magnate, a married man with five sons, fell in love with with the 20-year-old Ziegfeld
Follies showgirl, she was to remain at his side for more than 30 years until the day he died. His influence changed
American history but Hearst may have been manipulated by his mistress.
24. Marilyn Monroe and Joe Di Maggio
He was America’s great baseball legend. She was the most famous actress in the history of Hollywood. It was a
whirlwind romance, but the pressures of fame would eventually wreck Marilyn's private life.. Di Maggio’s career was
over and he wanted a wife who would look after him. Marilyn, 12 years his junior, was on the threshhold of stardom.
And Di Maggio had a dark side to his character which Marilyn was to discover soon after they were married.
25. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford
In the 1920s, Fairbanks and Pickford were the uncrowned King and Queen of Hollywood and held court in the
Californian equivalent of a palace which they named Pickfair. When they married and created their own studio, few
could have imagined the scandal that would follow.
26. Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth
The press dubbed them 'Beauty and the Brain'. Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth were a remarkable combination of
Hollywood opposites, the man who made Citizen Kane and the sultry sex goddess who set the screen ablaze in Gilda.
The birth of their daughter Rebecca in December 1944 made her happiness complete, but it was not to last. Rita
craved a conventional marriage, but this was to prove one task too many for the mercurial Orson.