Sunday, February 20, 2011


"For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, no explanation is possible"


Here is a very special item that I was recently lucky to acquire. It is a Jennifer Jones headdress worn in "The Song of Bernadette" made at Fox
studios in 1943 and directed by Henry King.

The headdress is made of beige wool with a simple red threaded trim. It is worn by Jones as "Bernadette" when she first sees the Virgin Mary and then seen throughout remainder of film. Costumes were designed by Sam Benson.

The Song of Bernadette tells the story of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who, from February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, reported 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The costume piece can be seen in many scenes in the film.

It also appears on the poster art for the film and was used in the famous Norman Rockwell painting of the same name.

I was also lucky enough to obtain a Jennifer Jones Golden Globe nomination certificate for "The Song of Bernadette," 1943. Presented to the star by the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association; reading in part "First Annual Award for the Best Performance of 1943 By an Actress
Miss Jennifer Jones A 20th Century Fox Production. This was the first year for the Golden Globes and Jones did win in her category.

Jennifer Jones has appeared in many memorable films including "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" (1955) and Duel in the Sun (1946).

Other notable films included Since You Went Away (1944), Madame Bovary (1949), Carrie (1952), Ruby Gentry (1952), Beat the Devil (1953),Good Morning Miss Dove (1955), and The Towering Inferno (1974).

Jennifer Jones was also married to actor Robert Walker and to producer David O. Selznick.


Orson Welles did it all. He worked in the mediums film, theatre, television and radio and sustained fame and success in each.

His voice was perfect for radio and his personality for his film roles. He was larger than life and his aristic views and temperament was often at odds with established Hollywood. His work was unique, it had a distinct Welles mark that has not been repeated since. He was indeed one of the most influentual persons of the 20th Century in terms of his contribution to the arts.

He will be best remembered for his film classic "Citizen Kane" which he made at RKO in 1941. The film is always rated as the top ten films of all times and if you have seen it, you will know why. He will also be remembered for his radio play broadcast of "War of the Worlds" whose aliens attacking planet earth was thought by many listening in as a real event and caused much panic in many cities throughout the US.

This costume piece was worn by Orson Welles in his 1943 performance as Edward Rochester in "Jane Eyre" at 20th Century Fox studios. Costumes were designed by Rene Hubert.

This red velvet single breast period smoking jacket with frog closure is worb by Wellles in two scenes in the film opposite Joan Fontaine and Jane. Velvet cuffs and collar have been added to the costume for re use in another production. As was the case, costumes were sometimes altered an reused. Here the alterations were luckily minimal. Some of Welles costumes for Jane Eyre were for example used by Rex Harrison a few years later in "Foxes of Harrow" in 1947. You never know where a costume is going to end up. It is interesting to note for Jane Eyre that Welles gave up having his name above the title and above Joan Fontaine's in lieu of acting as associate producer. In many ways, Welles found the business of film as important if not more, than the craft itself.

Close up photos of the design to the jacket below.

The costume was executed by the Western Costume Co. Below is the original sewn in label which indicates the use of the costume by Orson Welles.

Welles personal life was as interesting as work. He married Rita Hayworth in 1943 and had one child together. He had also fallen in love with Mexican actress Dolores del Río and also elpoped with Chicago-born actress and socialite Virginia Nicolson. In 1955 he married Italian actress and Countess Paola Mori.

This bigger than life personalily has indeed earnt his place and postion on the bigger than life screen! I am very lucky to have a costume piece worn by this genius.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Born Archibald Alexander Leach, Cary Grant has always been known for his distinctive voice and good looks. He will always be remembered as the debonair leading man with not only charm but great style.

Cary Grant has appeared in many film classics including To Catch A Thief in 1955 with Grace Kelly and An Affair to Remember in 1957 with Deborah Kerr, a personal favourite of mine. Other classics include The Awful Truth in 1937 and Bringing Up Baby in 1938.

He is fondly remembered playing opposite Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story at MGM in 1940 and in Hitchcock's Suspicion in 1941.

He worked well in comedies with his great comedic timing and facial expressions none more so than in Arsenic and Old Lace in 1944 when discovering his two lovelable Aunts to be cold blooded killers.

This two piece blue velvet period costume was designed by Irene Saltern and worn by Cary Grant in the 1940 Columbia Pictures feature film "The Howards of Virginia". The film tells the story of the American revolutionary war as seen through the eyes of Cary Grant. Grant portrays Matt Howard with Martha Scott starring as his wife Jane Peyton Howard.

The colour of a costume even in the black and white film was considered important. It not only sought to provide authenticity to the actors in performing their roles, it was also important that a costume photograph well.

The dark blue velvet of this piece can clearly be seen in its black and white setting altough we don't know what colour it is, we know it is velvet and that it is not black. It is interesting to watch films that have been through a coloursitaion process and to see what colour cosutmes were considred as correct. Most times they are wrong. The magnificent blue of this costume would have been lost to the paying audiences of 1940. Perhaps ten years later the film would have been made in colour. It is nice now to be able to see what the cosutme looked like in all its beauty!

Cary Grant remained as one of the top box-office attractions for 30 years. When you watch his films, you can see why. Even Mr Grant put it best himself when he said "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant-even I want to be Cary Grant".


Mitzi Gaynor is a much loved musical film, theatre and television performer. She has beautifully acted and danced in a number of film musical classics including my favourites of "There's No Business Like Show Business" in 1954 with Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe.

Another one of her film classics is "Les Girls" in which she appeared in 1957 at MGM studios. Directed by George Cukor and starring Gene Kelly and Kay Kendall, it remains up there as one of the great MGM musicals.

This costume appears in Les Girls as worn by Mitzi Gaynor. It is a peach coloured dance leotard with intricate beading and design to the majority of the costume. The costumes for the film was designed by Orry-Kelly.

This is a close up of the design to the bodice.

The costume can be seen not only on screen but in any number of promotional photos as you can see below.

Here is another close up of the design work on the costume.

The costume also appears on the orignal poster art for the film.

To give you an idea of size, her measurements in 1956 around the time of filming "Les Girls" was 36C-21 1/2-36 1/2. The following photos give you clear understanding of the "waists" these performers had!

The costume design is worn by all three leads inluding Kay Kendall and Tania Elg as part of a dance number in the film with Gene Kelly. It's a wonderful dance cosutme and so reminicent of the magic of the MGM musical film and the glamour of 1950's Hollywood.

Gaynor will of course be rememebered best for role as Ensign Nellie Forbush in the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" and for her performance she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best actress.

Following her career as a film performer, she went on to perform on stage in a number of concert appearances as well as a series of much loved televsion specials so much so that they gained her a total of 16 Emmy nominations.

This great lady even today continues to tour with her one one-woman show titled "Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind the Sequins".

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I was recently lucky enough to find this wonderful period costume as worn by Lana Turner in the MGM film “Diane” (1956). This second Lana Turner costume I am thrilled to have from this MGM film was designed by Walter Plunkett.

From the Bill Madigan Collection.

Lana Turner portrayed Diane de Poitiers, the Countess de Breze opposite a very young Roger Moore.

The costume is a two-piece period gown of metallic fabric with long train and with heavy lace trim to the arms. The gown also features an ornate design to the bodice and arms.

Lana Turner wears this gown in a scene where she is teaching Roger Moore how to dance. You can see Ms Turner wearing the costume in this clip and it comes in at 4:22:

Below is a copy of the original costume sketch for this piece and reads “Lana Turner Change #11 Teaching the prince how to dance”.