Dying TV star, Jade Goody gets married

February 23, 2009 7:12:27 AM PST
Bald from chemotherapy and so weak she had trouble standing, British reality TV star Jade Goody married her 21-year-old sweetheart on Sunday - and her every tear was captured for the cameras. The wedding extravaganza for the brash 27-year-old, now dying from cervical cancer, has captivated Britain and helped turn the loud-mouthed Goody from the star everyone loved to hate to the one they can't praise enough.

Goody and Jack Tweed received a standing ovation from 200 guests once they were married at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in eastern England, Goody's spokesman Max Clifford told reporters after the ceremony.

The bride had painkillers stashed inside her designer dress. When she felt unable to stand about half an hour into the 45-minute service, she sat down, her husband-to-be knelt beside her, and her two young sons scrambled onto her lap, the spokesman said.

"It was just a very beautiful, very moving service," Clifford said.

The runup to the wedding received blanket coverage in the British media and pictures of the pair kissing were on most papers' front page Sunday. The overwhelmingly positive coverage marked a turnaround for Goody, who went from being the posterchild for British boorishness to an exemplar of bravery following her cancer diagnosis.

Doctors say Goody only has weeks to live. She decided to film her struggle with cancer and earn as much as possible in the time she has left in order to fund her sons' education.

Now known to most Britons simply as "Jade," Goody was plucked from obscurity to play in "Big Brother," a British reality show, in 2002. Her eye-popping gaffes - she infamously complained of being "an escape goat" and questioned whether English was spoken in the U.S. - made her so mocked that her old south London school defended itself by saying she wasn't a typical pupil.

Goody cashed in on her notoriety with an autobiography, fitness videos and a line of perfume, but her clashes with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty during the filming of "Celebrity Big Brother" in January 2007 saw her branded a racist and ejected from the show in disgrace.

Goody tried her best to fix the damage, making up with Shetty, donating money to an Indian charity and offering to appear on the Indian version of the show. It was while she was filming that show in August that she learned she had cervical cancer.

Photo and video rights to her over-the-top wedding - the helicopter, the cake, and Goody's invariably outrageous outbursts - were auctioned off to the highest bidder, reportedly for a million pounds (more than $1.4 million).

Although some critics questioned Goody's determination to spend her dying days in the spotlight, her frankness largely won the media over.

"People will say I'm doing this for money," she was quoted as saying by The Sun tabloid earlier. "And they're right. I am, but not to buy flash cars or big houses. It's for my sons' future."

Politicians, medical professionals and even clergy rushed to heap praise on Goody.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called her situation tragic, while the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, described Goody as "a brave woman."

"A lot of people might say 'well, it's better if she did everything in quiet,'" Murphy-O'Connor told Sky News in comments broadcast Sunday. "But I think she's made a decision that she wants the last months of her life to teach people something."

Others noted that cervical cancer screenings, which can catch the disease when it is more easily treatable, have spiked in Britain since Goody's condition hit the headlines.

"Jade Goody has done what no public health campaign has been able to do in the past, which is get widespread public attention onto the screening issue," British lawmaker Dr. Liam Fox told Sky.

Her plight even softened hearts at Britain's Ministry of Justice, which allowed Tweed, on probation after assaulting a teenage boy with a golf club, special dispensation to spend Sunday evening with his bride.

"It might be their only night together," Clifford said.

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