WASHINGTON • Once the ultimate bachelor, Oscar-winning actor George Clooney, 56, entered new territory on Tuesday.
He and his human-rights lawyer wife of two years, Amal, 39, announced that they were the proud new parents of twins, a girl and a boy.
"This morning, Amal and George welcomed Ella and Alexander Clooney into their lives. Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine," George Clooney's publicist Stan Rosenfield said in an e-mail.
He added cheekily: "George is sedated and should recover in a few days."
Amal's mother, Baria, speaking from the London hospital where she was with her daughter, said: "We are over the moon. It was a beautiful delivery. The babies are beautiful and are doing well."
Social media lit up with congratulatory messages and "Ella and Alexander" was among the top trending topics on Twitter in the United States.
The births sent the media into a frenzy, with paparazzi lined up outside the hospital, clamouring for the first pictures, and celebrity websites outdoing one another with headlines such as "10 Reasons George Clooney Will Make a Great Dad".
Some praised the choice of names as a refreshingly normal departure from a trend for celebrity baby names such as Apple, Audio and North.
"Good lord, the Clooneys have given their twins lovely ordinary names. Shocking. And they call themselves celebrities...," British journalist Nicola Jane Swinney wrote on Twitter.
Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres posted a Twitter message, saying: "Congratulations, George and Amal, or as I'm now calling you, Ocean's Four." (George Clooney acted in the Ocean's trilogy movies: Ocean's Eleven, 2001; Ocean's Twelve, 2004; and Ocean's Thirteen, 2007)
People magazine reported that former US president Barack Obama paid a long, private visit to the Clooneys at their home in the countryside west of London on May 27.
The actor cancelled a visit to Armenia for a humanitarian event on Sunday, saying in a video message to organisers that "if... my wife had twins while I was there, I could never come home".
A first-time father, he was asked throughout his career if the single life was his ultimate future.
"I don't have that gene that people have to replicate," he told People in 2006.
"I keep saying I'll never get married again or have children, but people just don't want to believe me," he told Britain's Daily Express, just three months before popping the question to Amal in April 2014.
Of course, he is not alone in choosing to wait till later in life to welcome a child: Comedian Steve Martin became a father at age 67 in 2012; singer Elton John was 63 when he had a baby via a surrogate in 2010; and actor Chris Noth was 53 when he welcomed a child in 2008.
Pop superstar Beyonce is also expected to give birth to twins any day now, turning parenthood into the biggest celebrity story of the year.
WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE