8. The pair: Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher
The year: 1956
The hype: Before Elizabeth Taylor caught Eddie Fisher's wandering eye, Fisher and Reynolds were America's Golden Couple. Appearing together on many a magazine cover, the two co-starred in Bundle of Joy -- a movie that cast Reynolds in the role of a single shopgirl who discovers an abandoned baby and takes it in -- the same year that the couple announced they were pregnant with daughter Carrie Fisher. As Eddie Fischer went on to note, the movie was "simply a means of exploiting all of the publicity surrounding our marriage." You can bet this same PR attention was also given to their impending offspring and, well, we've all seen Postcards From the Edge....
7. The pair: Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan
The year: 2011
The hype: The Brangelina of Bollywood, Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan sent the media -- and bookies -- into a tizzy when word got out that they were expecting. The Times of India reported that on the day their baby was born, the infant was "already trending on Twitter" and gamblers had been placing big money bets on what day the baby would arrive.
6. The pair: Beyoncé and Jay-Z
The year: 2011
The hype: As the spawn of hip-hop royalty, Blue Ivy's birth was probably the most talked-about piece of celebrity news during the latter half of 2011, which ultimately led to the inevitable cuckoo conspiracies. As US Weekly wrote at the time:
In October, rumors began swirling that Beyonce was padding her stomach and may have hired a surrogate to carry her child after an appearance on the Australian talk show Sunday Night HD...The songstress also put her 'gross pregnancy cravings' rumors to bed. "I read that I like ketchup on everything...not true," she quipped, laughing. "I was on a plane and the flight attendant came and was like, 'I have your hot sauce and pickles and bananas.' I'm like, 'That is disgusting! What are you doing?' And he's like, 'I read it on the Internet!'"
5. The pair: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
The year: 2005
The hype: Oh boy. Where to begin. Like a more sinister version of the Jay-Bey conspiracy, creepy rumors about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' pregnancy appeared right from the start. Back in 2005, Slate writer Dana Stevens summed up the weird and persistent gossip thus:
The Cruise-Holmes pregnancy story raises so many questions: Why is Katie's aunt busily denying that the actress conceived through IVF? Where was Holmes during those 16 days in April in between meeting Cruise for the first time and emerging publicly as the "magnificent woman" with whom he was so madly and aggressively in love? (It's hard not to picture a Rosemary's Baby-style orgy, in which aliens from the planet Psychlo impregnate a comatose Holmes under the approving gaze of Ruth Gordon.) Why did Holmes fire her longtime publicist only days after the pregnancy announcement and sign on with Lee Anne Devette, Cruise's Scientologist sister? And weirdest of all, why are Katie and Tom apparently lying (excuse me, engaging in an alter-isness) about the actual date of conception?
4. The pair: Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco
The year: 1956
The hype: Legend has it that when Kelly became pregnant, she started carrying around the Hermès bag that now bears her name to shield her growing stomach from the prying paparazzi lenses watching her comings and goings and -- voilá! -- an iconic bag was born. When the cat was out of the, er, Hermès bag, however, the media couldn't get enough of the pregnancy -- you'd have thought The New York Times was OK! Magazine. The Times wrote on August 3, 1956:
The Royal Palace of Monaco announced today that Prince Rainier III and his Hollywood Princess, Grace Kelly, were expecting a child in February. The Prince, in a two-minute recorded radio speech, told his people about the coming event. The 370-acre Mediterranean principality prepared a celebration second only to the fanfare of floodlights and pageantry given the wedding itself last April 18 and 19. But the Prince and Princess prepared to flee the clamor by embarking on their yacht on Sunday for a cruise along the Italian coast.and later on September 12, 1956:
[Princess Grace] parried efforts to obtain further details [on the baby's name], except to disclose that 'Grace' was not under consideration. Other intelligence: The Princess hoped to do some shopping 'for the baby' in New York. The couple had no preference between a boy and a girl.
3. The pair: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
The year: 2006
The hype: For the celebrity gossip world, the news that Brangelina was expecting a baby was bigger than if the couple had released a sex tape. With such frenzy surrounding them, there have been countless pregnancy announcements on magazine covers but back in '06 People broke the bona fide story and, during the heady, pre-Great Recession days, coughed up $4.1 million to publish the first baby photos of little Shiloh.
2. The pair: Princess Diana and Prince Charles
The year: 1981
The hype: To this day, the news of Diana's pregnancy could rival any contemporary equivalents -- royal, celebrity, Bollywood celebrity or otherwise -- and, it should be noted, the hysteria spread en masse without the help of the Internet. When word came out that Di was expecting, People wrote in 1981:
It seemed as though the rice had hardly been swept off the steps of St. Paul's before Britain was proudly atwitter over a new royal announcement: The newlywed Diana, Princess of Wales, is expecting to deliver an heir to the throne sometime in June. After a brief pause during which "the nation's mums counted on their fingers," as one wry observer put it, the Buckingham Palace switchboard was jammed with congratulatory calls, hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the gates, and Fleet Street hailed the "WONDERFUL NEWS" in banner headlines...Inevitably, bookmakers began taking odds -- 10-11 on a boy, evens on a girl, and 50-1 on twins, who run in the mother-to-be's family.
1. The pair: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz
The year: 1952-1953
The hype: Rather than doing the old "film an actress sitting down/behind a table/opening a refrigerator door" trick, Lucille Ball convinced CBS execs to write her pregnancy into the script. Unusual for a sitcom of that era, the plot point was a major source of interest for a captive American audience in the conservative 50s. As the New York Times wrote on January 16,1953:
From all indications the approaching birth of Lucille Ball's child, both in real life and in the script of 'I Love Lucy,' has engendered as much public interest as anything since the days when the world stood still every evening to hear 'Amos 'n' Andy' on the radio. The climax, of course, is scheduled for next Monday when Miss Ball goes to the hospital for a Caesarean operation and presents her husband, Desi Arnaz, with either a boy or girl. On the screen that same night the installment of 'I Love Lucy,' already made on film will report 'Lucy Ricardo' giving birth to a boy. Presumably interest will be running high whether the Arnaz correctly anticipated the sex of their real-life offspring. The deliberate parallel between the lives of the off-stage Lucille and the on-stage Lucy undoubtedly is unique in theatre annals for a number of reasons. First, it hardly would be possible without television and, second, the matter of approaching motherhood, although one of the oldest themes for the dramatist, seldom has been treated with the light touch.
And there you have it. You'll have to forgive us if we start suggesting baby names and recommending bassinet models for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- it is, after all, in our journalistic genome.