Friday, February 12, 2016

Fashion Friday #9: The 12th Annual Academy Awards

The 12th Annual Academy Awards were held on February 29th, 1940. A who's who of Hollywood gathered together to watch their peers receive recognition for their work in 1939. Bob Hope played Master of Ceremonies for the night, which saw Gone With the Wind sweep the awards.

Vivien Leigh arrived for the ceremony with David Selznick, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland and Jock Whitney. Both Vivien and Olivia chose to wear ermine coats over their Oscar dresses: Vivien went with a floor length coat, while Olivia chose to wear a shorter, cropped version.

Beneath her fur coat, Vivien wore a stunning, floor-length gown by Irene. Irene Lentz was a fashion designer, whose salon was located inside the Bullocks-Wilshire department store. In addition to designing costumes for the movies, Irene also designed for private customers, which included many of Hollywood's top stars such as Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert and Loretta Young.

In the fall of 1939, Irene held a fashion show for one of her collections. The gown Vivien chose for the Oscars was listed as item number fourteen with the simple description of red poppy evening gown. The green printed chiffon dress featured the aforementioned red poppies with hints of yellow, gray and blue mixed into the gown's color palette. Vivien won the Best Actress Oscar for her role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind.

Vivien's chiffon gown featured spaghetti straps, side cut-outs and a low-cut bodice. Her topaz pendant, set in yellow gold, hung from a slender chain around her neck, drawing attention to the deep V of the dress. Vivien chose costume jewelry to complete her look, a bracelet and large ring, to match the tone set by the pendant.

Olivia de Havilland, a nominee for Best Supporting Actress, wore a cropped ermine jacket over her floor-length evening gown. Unfortunately, as with the Atlanta and Hollywood Gone With the Wind premieres, I wasn't able to find a full length image of Olivia in her gown.

Laurence Olivier gives her a helping hand as she makes her way up the stairs and we can see the bottom half of her dress. Olivia's gown featured alternating bands of black lace and black taffeta, from her bow-topped bodice to the bottom of her wide skirt.

Hattie McDaniel arrived wearing a short fur jacket over her gown, which she highlighted with a gorgeous corsage of gardenias. She chose to wear a blue crepe gown for the night's festivities, which featured a long-sleeved, cropped jacket over her shirred bodice, with a cummerbund setting off the long skirt. Gardenias and a headband adorned her hair as she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Joan Bennett arrived in a white crepe evening gown on the arm of her new husband, Walter Wanger, a nominee for Outstanding Production for the movie, Stagecoach. Joan's long-sleeved gown featured a plunging neckline, which she highlighted with an emerald brooch set within a circle of diamonds and a pearl necklace. One of the biggest fashion trends of 1940, for ladies, were turbans. Joan embraced this latest fad by elegantly swathing her hair in white crepe, which matched her dress.

Though Bette Davis had already heard she wasn't going to be the night's winner for Best Actress for Dark Victory, she still showed up dressed to kill. Her escort for the night was her cousin, Johnny Favour.

Bette's black, sheer net dress came with long-sleeves and a floor-length, full skirt. Her fitted bodice featured multi-colored sequins in a very decorative motif. Her dress may have been designed by Orry-Kelly,  the fashion designer for Warner Brothers.

Hedy Lamarr arrived with her husband, Gene Markey, in a long, black wool, evening cape, gorgeously studded with sequins across the shoulders, achieving a capelet effect.

The above studio portrait gives us a close-up of Hedy in her black cape, showing off the beaded design. Beneath the cape, Hedy wore a pinkish colored, long-sleeved satin gown with a fitted bodice. The dress featured a design of black velvet applique and front buttons.

Judy Garland took home a special Oscar for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year and received a miniature statuette. I love the clasps on her fur jacket.

She wore a short-sleeved dress of blue chiffon, with a long skirt ribbed with bands of matching blue lace. She completed her look with elbow-length gloves and a corsage. Judy performed what many people think of today as her feature song, Over the Rainbow, from The Wizard of Oz.

Norma Shearer's strapless gown was designed by Balenciaga, which according to one source, had been specifically made for her while on a trip to Paris. The princess cut dress of blue satin featured an embroidered design from top to bottom and a corseted waist. Norma's jewelry consisted of a diamond necklace and several diamond bracelets on her left wrist. Her date for the evening was the handsome George Raft.

What's fun to note is that this is the same evening dress she wore just two months earlier to the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. Go, Norma! I can't imagine any of today's actresses wearing the same dress to two high profile events within months of each other.

Norma Shearer and George Raft at the GWTW premiere.

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fashion Friday #8: Hollywood Premiere of "Gone With the Wind"

On December 28th, 1939, Gone With the Wind finally had its premiere in Hollywood. The premiere was held at Fox's Carthay Circle Theater, which had opened in 1926. Sadly, the theater was demolished in 1969 to make room for an office block.

The celebrities came out in droves, dressed to the nines, for the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind.  In addition to the film's cast, some of the other attendees included Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero, Ginger Rogers, Paulette Goddard and Charlie Chaplin.

“Scarlett” in fucshia and white: Vivien Leigh wears an ermine coat over sequin sprinkled souffle with its matching veil and sequined bag.  Note that on the latter she carries Laurence Olivier’s orchids for a corsage effect fated for popularity.

Vivien Leigh's dress was designed for her by Walter Plunkett, who had also created her Atlanta premiere outfit. It's a shame there are no (known) color photos of Vivien in this dress. The fuchsia color would be amazing against her dark hair. Note how on top of her sequined hood, Vivien attached one of her brooches.

The gang's all here, well almost all of them... Jock Whitney, financial backer of GWTW, stands next to Irene Selznick, followed by Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier at the Carthay Circle Theater.

After the movie was over, Jock Whitney thew a huge party for the attendees, at the new Trocadero Club. Obviously having a good time, at the Trocadero, are Olivia de Havilland, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and David Selznick.

It’s Clark (“Rhett Butler”) Gable’s big night and wife Carole Lombard does him proud in a classic gown and wrap of stippled gold. With this she wears a minimum of jewelry, topping tiny earrings with a chic up hair-do. Carole's gold lame gown was cut in the princess fashion.

In March, 1939, Clark was in the middle of filming Gone With the Wind when his divorce from wife number two came through, making him a free man. Clark wasted no time in making Carole the new Mrs. Gable and the couple drove down to Arizona to tie the knot.

Below, the Gables are caught hanging out with Marion Davies and Raoul Walsh. The foursome were photographed on the red carpet, at the Carthay Circle Theater, where Gone With the Wind would shortly be shown.

Double play at the "Gone With the Wind" opening! Ginger Rogers not only enters the theater on the arm of Walter Plunkett, who created "Scarlett O'Hara's" own premiere ensemble, as well as the costumes for the picture...

Ginger Rogers wears a very smart tunic gown of palest blue and silver lame, exactly matched by the turban, which serves to conceal her currently dark hair. Her wrap is silver fox. Ginger was in the middle of filming Primrose Path and had dyed her blonde hair dark for the role (she also chose not to wear any make-up for the part).

Inside the Trocadero Club, at Jock Whitney's party, Walter Plunkett and Ginger Rogers are all smiles.

Lana Turner flaunts a lynx coat, which is very nearly as stunning as her tricky feather bird. The latter’s an anchor for the hood of Lana’s Gladys Parker gown. Underneath the lynx coat, she wore a red and white hooded gown. Lana was one of the would-be Scarletts. She auditioned for the role back in November, 1938.

Surprise? Another sweeping ermine wrap, this one-- not unlike Vivien’s-- belonging to Norma Shearer (who almost played the famous “Miss O’Hara“)! She is wearing a Directoire model of appliqued satin. Her Rhett Butler is George Raft, of course.

Margaret Sullavan, arriving with her husband, Leland Hayward, might have stepped right out of the family album in her broadcloth coat. with its quaint elbow capelet and baby pillow muff-- all banded with sealskin, that fur so dear to the hearts of our grandmothers’ day.

Tyrone Power and his wife, Annabella, arrive at Carthay Circle. The two had only been married since April and were still in the honeymoon stage. 

 Most girls would think it quite enough to make their entrance with Tyrone Power (let alone wearing his wedding ring!), but Annabella still seeks further honors with her basque waisted full skirted frock of brocaded satin damask under a white fox jacket whose extended shoulders are practically guaranteed to make the tiniest, most feminine star look even more fragile.

Gary Cooper and his wife, Veronica Balfe, arrive for the premiere. Fine feathers make a fine showing among the many opulent furs and gorgeous fabrics at the Carthay Circle, as Mrs. Gary Cooper proves with a brief, shaggy ostrich jacket. Her blazing diamond earrings strike an elegant note, too, though Gary’s face hardly looks too formal from this angle!

Joan Crawford's date for the night was Cesar Romero.

Gallantly, Cesar Romero helps Joan Crawford adjust the hood of her ermine wrap over her snood. The dress beneath is of flowing white crepe, tightly belted with heavy embroidery of gold beads to match neckline.

Here are a few other celebrities who also attended the Hollywood premiere of Gone With the Wind. Unfortunately, I don't have dress descriptions for these ladies. First up is Hattie McDaniel. Hattie brought to life the character Mammy from GWTW as no other actress possibly could have.

Miss Carreen O'Hara and Mr. Charles Hamilton, better known in real life as Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks attended the showing together. This was Ann's third time watching Gone With the Wind. She'd previously attended the Atlanta and New York premieres.

Paulette Goddard arrived on the red carpet with her husband, Charlie Chaplin. Paulette was another would-be Scarlett and actually made it to the final four in consideration. Her last screen test for Scarlett was on December 21st, 1938.

No matter what city Gone With the Wind had a premiere in (Atlanta, New York, Hollywood), the crowds turned out in droves to catch the slightest glimpse of Scarlett, Rhett and all the others who brought Margaret Mitchell's masterpiece to life.

Thanks for joining me for this week's fashion post!

All italicized dress descriptions are from Photoplay, April, 1940. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Loves of Clark Gable

From Modern Screen, 1931
by Walter Ramsey

Almost since the day Clark Gable's first picture was shown in Hollywood, he has been asked to give his views on women, love, marriage and divorce. His answer has always been "No!" But in this statement, exclusive to Modern Screen, he tells for the first time all of his thoughts, ideals and illusions with regard to the many women he has known — a few of whom he has learned to love.

"Right at the outset," he said, "I want it understood by those who read this magazine that I have been married twice — not four times, as an erroneous report has it. Nor have I a son — as another report stated. I would have absolutely no reason to be untruthful about the subject in any way . . . many persons have been married a number of times and in most instances married people have children. But I haven't ... so far."

I was quite impressed with this opening statement of Clark Gable's for the reason that it proved him the type of man who likes to put "his cards on the table" . . . and that is the type of man I have learned to believe. The sincerity with which he portrays a character on the screen isn't lost one whit in his off-screen attitude. He has the same tone, of conviction over a luncheon table that you have learned to enjoy over the microphone. He is a splendid fellow, personally, and a real gentleman. I asked him, rather hesitantly, to tell me of all the women he had known in his life . . . right from the beginning. He had promised me the story and he came through. But the manner in which Clark Gable tells of the women he has known, stamps him all the deeper as a gentleman. You be the judge!

The first woman I ever knew," he began with a smile, "made a new man of me! She was seven and I was eight. She was short . . . dark . . . beautiful . . . and brown-eyed. Her name was Treela . . . and since she is now happily married I shall keep her other name a secret. Why it was that I suddenly found myself thinking about her during every waking hour . . . and dreaming about her at night, I don't know. Up until the time I first saw her I always had utter disdain for 'gurls' and had laughed at any of the boys in the gang who gave the opposite sex the slightest glance or thought. 

"Two weeks after I met Treela, however, I found myself in a church pew listening with one ear to the Sunday school sermon . . . and watching Treela with both eyes. It rather startled me, I remember, to find myself in church . . . mostly, I suppose, because I had always gone fishing instead. Sunday school had been another thing the gang had always avoided . . . religiously! So, as I said, the first woman I ever knew made a new man of me. 

"And believe me, ours was more than a puppy love affair. We swore undying love to each other. Appeared haughty when asked to play Post Office or any of the other games that all the kids went in for. We told each other than it would 'cheapen our love.' And I really believe it was more sincere than most youngsters' love affairs . . . it lasted five years . . . and I still call that more than a passing acquaintance! It was Treela who set the styles — as far as women have been concerned in my life. She was distinctly feminine . . . quite short . . . dark brown hair and the same shade of eyes. She has always remained in my mind as a little old-fashioned girl. 

"To show you how much she impressed me, I can truthfully say that until a short time ago I thought of her every day of my life! In fact, so often did my mind wander back over the memories of the five years that Treela and I 'went steady' as kid sweethearts, that I decided at one time that I would have to go back to the small town in Ohio and see if she still remembered me. 

"I went back to the little place where I had been born and brought up — and I found Treela! Not the same little girl I had been carrying in my memory for all the years. . . but a grown woman. A woman who had been married for quite some time and who introduced me to her husband and two of the cutest little kiddies I've ever seen. But I lost something by going back. I replaced the beautiful memory of a little girl . . . with a vivid recollection of a mature woman. The little girl had belonged to me — in memory — but the woman belonged to another man! I'm sorry now that I no longer have that picture in my mind . . . somehow I've always given it a great deal of credit for the little happiness I've been able to glean from some very lonesome hours. 

"I've often wondered what would have happened to that romance if I had stayed in Hopedale. But I moved to Akron . . . and Akron to me is quite famous for a tall, willowy, golden-haired girl with bright blue eyes. Her name was Norma . . . and we were both fifteen. My memory of Norma is very vivid. But it isn't the memory of a beautiful face or figure. It may sound silly when I say it, but the thing I remember about Norma was her voice! No, she wasn't a singer . . and she had never had her voice trained. 

"I have the recollection of sitting for hours and just listening. It used to worry me that I should have to interrupt — to ask her an occasional question so that she would continue talking to me. And even now, I think a beautiful voice is one of the most arresting and really rare attributes to be found. To me, a woman is automatically interesting if she speaks in a beautiful voice. 

Then, after two years in Akron, I started out on "the high road to Broadway. It was a long road . . . one that led me into little towns you have probably never heard of ... a road strewn with one-night stands . . . twenty-five dollars a week . . . when I worked and when I didn't, there were many times that I was hungry. 

'All during those years from the time I was seventeen until I was twenty-four were spent in day coaches and on the stage. During all this time I met many women. Many of them have become a part of the past. Only a few remain. 

"Elsa ... a wistful little girl — blue eyes and raven-black hair — five feet tall and quaint as a Dresden doll. She lived in a town in Mississippi. I remember her particularly because she seemed so anxious to prove her sincerity. She was the only woman I met in all those years who seemed to believe that I would amount to something as an actor. She recognized and was quick to forgive the light way in which I looked upon our romance. She showed, in a hundred insignificant ways, that she thought continually of my happiness. I didn't realize this until long after — but it isn't easy to forget now. 

"Alice . . . another very small girl. She was from the South and her accent intrigued me from the very start. One little mannerism that I recall was the way she had of puckering up her nose when she smiled. It made her appear so much happier than any other person I had ever seen smile that I couldn't get her out of my mind. She had huge dimples in her cheeks . . . and the corners of her mouth always turned up. And I shall never forget the last waltz we had. It was in a small dance pavilion near a lake . . . there was a colored orchestra playing . . . all the lanterns around the walls had been turned low.  I'll always remember that . . . that smile . . . and those dimples. 

Yes, there were many others. Some I have tried to forget . . . with just as much difficulty as trying to remember others. Some were friendships. A few reached the point of romance. And then, after I had finally got to playing some of the larger cities, I found myself occasionally with women whose only appeal lay in a rather dubious physical attraction. I've known the cheap little romances of the actor on a one-night stand. I found that it is very easy for a man who displays emotions on the stage for hours every day to allow himself to do the same off the stage during other hours. I have done it myself . . . and somehow I don't regret it. I think the women I've known have taught me a great deal about life. 

"But all of that comes to an end . . . sooner or later. I mean that sort of hit-and-miss romance. It finally comes time to take life and love very seriously. It came to me at the age of twenty-four. It was then that I met and married my first wife . . . Josephine Dillon. She wasn't on the stage when I met her, but her life had been the stage until a year or so previous. She gave me something that I had never had before ... a constant love and inspiration. Our married life wasn't of very long duration. . . and I will take most of the blame for that. After a separation of a few years, my wife obtained a divorce. Some are quick to say that it was the difference in our ages that made the marriage impossible. I am not sure whether they mean to imply that I was too young ... or that Josephine was older than I. I don't think age has anything to do with the duration of marriage. It has a much deeper foundation. 

Since I've come to Hollywood, I've married for the second time. My present wife had been married before just as I had . . . she is everything I could possibly desire in a wife and I am sure that this marriage will be the last for both of us." (In this case, as in the case of his first marriage, the woman is much older than Gable.) 

"I have nothing to say concerning either of the two women who have done me the honor to become my wife, except to say that in both cases I married women who come up to the standards I have set for what I call my ideal woman. In just one respect do they differ from the types I always liked as a kid: they are both taller than average. But as far as coloring . . . hair . . . eyes and personality — both are exactly the same as I have always admired. 

"That just about finishes what I have to say on the subject of women. I hope, very sincerely, that in answering this call to talk on this delicate topic (so dear to the hearts of the fans) that I have in no way over-stepped the bounds of decent conduct. I like to play the game fairly. I hope I have. This is the first and last time I shall ever talk on this subject for publication. I consider women a real and vital part of my life — but not a part of my career."