It’s been said that a Hollywood marriage is equivalent to a normal couple going on a second date. Never did this analogy seem more applicable than when Beverly Hills, 90210‘s Shannen Doherty, 22, wedded Hollywood brat Ashley Hamilton, 18, her boyfriend of less than a month, in a surprise makeshift ceremony on Sept. 24, 1993.
So whirlwind was the courtship that rumors of the nuptials didn’t circulate until the big day, when Doherty reportedly asked a 90210 art staffer to decorate her backyard for the occasion. By evening, the yard had been outfitted with an assortment of sunflowers and tiki torches. The handful of guests-none of Doherty’s 90210 costars were in attendance-celebrated with beer and a store-bought cake.
As the press scrabbled for snippets about the marriage (Doherty’s publicist reportedly received more than 300 phone calls after the ceremony), the happy couple flew to New York so the bride could host Saturday Night Live.
The public’s response to the marriage was less congratulatory than interrogatory: Just how long could these two stay teen and wife?
America’s love/hate relationship with Doherty began long before Hamilton (son of chronically tan George) hit the scene. The former child protegee of Michael Landon on Little House: A New Beginning had gained a new reputation when the line between her 90210 role — hopeless romantic-turned- unmitigated bitch Brenda Walsh — and her life began to blur. Doherty ravaged romances-with real estate developer Chris Foufas, makeup heir Dean Factor, brat-packer emeritus Judd Nelson-like Sherman rampaging through Georgia.
Sure enough, theirs proved to be a war-torn marriage, with frontline reports of both screaming matches and lovey-dovey dinners. ”I care about being with my husband,” the young bride said in January 1994. ”I take my marriage seriously.”
On Feb. 23, Hamilton and Doherty separated; on April 7, she filed for divorce, citing ”irreconcilable differences.” Things have been relatively peaceful since then, aside from a few sightings of Doherty with her newest flame, bad-boy director Rob Weiss (Amongst Friends). Meanwhile, the actress has landed the role of Margaret Mitchell in Margaret, NBC’s November offering about the author whose famous book — like Doherty’s marriage — is Gone With the Wind.