Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Designer Double-Dip: Think Pink!

Today we're offering up another one of those fascinating instances in which a costume piece was reused after its initial purpose. We especially enjoy these when they have something to do with particularly favorite movies of ours, as in this case. First, though, we must travel back in time to the Napoleonic era. The 1954 movie Désirée told the tale of a rather simple young girl who falls in love with Napoleon Bonaparte, but is crushed when he winds up engaged to the extravagantly wealthy Josephine. In the photo shown here, deliberately in shadow, the girl is all gussied up as she heads to the palace to see Napoleon and Josephine for the first time since their marriage.
Riding beside our "pink lady" are costars Cameron Mitchell and Elizabeth Sellars.
After she pulls the carriage drapery aside, we can at last get a better look at the title character, Désirée, as portrayed by Jean Simmons. Her cotton candy pink satin cape with white fur trim is the piece in question for this post.
Upon her arrival at the soirée, the cape is taken from Simmons by a doorman and properly stowed away for the evening.
Here we can see what Simmons is wearing underneath as she joins Mitchell and Sellars for their entry into the ballroom. In the inset, Simmons meets Josephine, played by Merle Oberon.
In this shot, Simmons is reunited with Napoleon, portrayed by Marlon Brando. She is dejected by the fact that they cannot be together and is spirited away from the party by another man.
We see the cape once more now that she has departed the palace and is out in the cool night air.
The gentleman who has taken her away from the party and Napoleon is Michael Rennie, who she later marries in the film. This shot gives us a good look at the jewelry Simmons wears with her glamorous ensemble.
Their moonlight exchange on the bridge affords us a look at the back of the cape, which will be a key part of how it will be shot the next time it appears in a movie.
I don't know if it is tall, dapper Rennie or the provocative decoration on that urn (or perhaps both!) that gets Simmons romantic juices flowing, but...
Before it's all over, the two are engaged in a passionate embrace! Costumes for the exquisitely presented film Désirée were done by René Hubert and Charles Le Maire. They couldn't have dreamed then that thirty years later, the pink satin and fur confection shown here would find its way into the top-grossing film of the season.
Alert the media. Jean Simmons' cape is about to make a grand return to the cinema! Have you remembered (or figured out) which film it reappears in?
The throngs of people shown above are all gathered near the red carpet in order to celebrate the gala grand opening of the tallest building in the world, The Glass Tower. Yes, the movie is 1974's The Towering Inferno, a disaster blockbuster which was so gargantuan it required (a historic) two studios working together in order to make it. Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox (the makers of Désirée) teamed up for the project. The arrival of San Francisco mayor Jack Collins and his wife Sheila Matthews (soon to be Sheila Allen) is when we at last glimpse the cape.
Perhaps it's indelicate to mention, but the cape has a tad more trouble staying closed on Ms. Matthews than it did on Ms. Simmons. Matthews was the girlfriend of "Master of Disaster" Irwin Allen and appeared in many of his TV and movie projects. They wed after this.
Here we see the back of the cape as the Mayor and his wife make their way through the crowd of reporters on the red carpet.
Inferno's costume designer was Allen's longtime associate Paul Zastupnevich, who presumably designed a pink gown to coordinate with this cape (or who later picked the cape from Fox's considerable supply of costume archives because it went with the dress.)
It is the mayor's duty to cut the ribbon at the ceremony and he's given a huge pair of gold scissors with which to perform the task.
Matthews looks on proudly as her husband dedicates The Glass Tower as "Tallest building in the world!"
You know I scrutinized Matthews' earrings to see if they were also the same ones Simmons wore three decades prior, but they are not.
The brand new scissors aren't exactly sharp and Collins has trouble getting the ribbon cut! ("Whoa ho ho... We'll make it!")
Happy times. But they aren't to last...
Here we get our first good look at the shocking pink schmatte that Zastupnevich put together for Matthews. (God knows she wasn't going to be slipping into Simmons' old gold number!) Everyone's looking up because the tower has been lit from top to bottom as part of the ceremony.
Another glimpse of the cape just before Matthews (shown here with Susan Blakely) enters the scenic elevator. 
The ride up in the scenic elevator is a hell of a lot more comfortable than the ride down, and - though exciting - it's also far less eventful! This is the last (known) time that we ever see this cape. Judging by its condition, it's clear that the wardrobe department at Fox took considerable care of their pieces in order for this twenty year-old item to still look this good.
The Towering Inferno is a Top 5 favorite film of ours so we're going to continue on for a little bit longer, even though we've already exhausted the point of this post! Now in the Promenade Room, Matthews' cape is presumably tucked away in a coat check someplace. Note at far left, the lady in red. She was "bun lady" in The Poseidon Adventure (1972) in which she wore yellow chiffon. In Inferno, she escapes death in the scenic elevator in a brief scene that was cut from the movie, but appeared in the four-hour expanded TV version.
Here, builder William Holden explains to the crowd that there is a fire, fifty floors below them. At far right is Leoda Richards, our very favorite movie extra!
Long after this, Sheila Matthews Allen liked three-dimensional floral appliques on her clothing such as what was done on this gown.
Why do you always make me prove everything?! LOL (This was at a premiere of the execrable Poseidon, 2006, which Ms. Allen executive produced...)
In the movie, this scene between Collins and Matthews come before she is called up onto the roof for a (bungled) helicopter rescue yet her hair is not as stiffly coiffed as it was and her earrings are gone. Not sure what she went through that we didn't witness.
After the fiery and ferociously windy helicopter rescue attempt, we see a visible change in her appearance. Now she's set to head down to the ground in the scenic elevator, which is working merely from gravity after most of the power has gone out.
Nice try, but no one's going to outdo Faye Dunaway in the portentous worry department!
Note that even before the elevator is knocked off its track by an explosion, Matthews' dress is already dirty and mangled. (She was barely on the roof and not anywhere near the flames of the copter crash.)
Anyway, she gets a primo spot behind La Dunaway once the elevator is hanging helpless with only the inept facial musings of Mike Lookinland to compete with.
With him having given up trying to remain in character, she is free to try to out-ham Miss D. with her fretful emoting, but I for one have never been able to look away from Dunaway at any point of her screen time in this movie. Ha ha!
Once safely on the ground, it takes a battery of firemen to get Matthews out of the chamber of doom. By now her dress has really had it, along with her hair.
This sequence has wind machines pounding the cast, with hair and chiffon whipping around.
As Matthews is lowered onto a gurney, she's got one final opportunity to act with Dunaway before being wheeled off.
Suddenly the air is dead calm!! No more blowing wind as these two have a moment with one another...!
Anyway, this concludes our presentation on the pink satin cape with white fur trim which diligently did its duty in two films made two decades apart from one another. By the way, I tried desperately to somehow connect the two, either through Jean Simmons and Sheila Matthews or any other way, and the best that I could do was take note that both Matthews and Simmons' carriage-mate Cameron Mitchell had roles (not together) in Viva Knievel! (1977.) Matthews was a nun running an orphanage and Mitchell was a bad guy! LOL (And no, I don't think that's Debbie Reynold's habit from The Singing Nun, 1966, that Matthews is wearing!)
Pink chiffon and Napoleonic finery have been traded in for starched white linen and denim with puka shells...! (That's cuckoo Marjoe Gortner with Mitchell, not Evel Knievel.)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Fun Finds: Photoplay Magazine, February 1971

We've unearthed another Fun Find, a vintage magazine from a slightly unusual year for us (we tend often to gravitate to either 1960s mags or late-1970s as a rule.) I was a mere child of three and a half when this was published, so it's just before I had much consciousness about the stars, though I've since made up for that with endless TV & movie viewing and voracious reading! Let's see what the entertainment landscape was like in (pre) February of 1971! (Oh, and a little shout-out to subscriber Audrey Belton... LOL!)
Sharon Farrell, an actress who runs hot and cold where I'm concerned, very nearly died during this delivery. Little known (practically unknown!) at the time was that she developed amnesia and a level of brain damage following an embolism she suffered. Steve McQueen, a former costar and alleged lover, advised her to keep all of that under wraps or she'd be considered an insurance risk and lose her career. She never did have another child, but she and third husband John Boyer split in 1972 and she wed two more times. Her first, and briefest, marriage had been to Andrew Prine!
Interesting interview with Candice Bergen, who had been acting for a few years, but without her heart in it until this point. In 1980, she married French director Louis Malle and was with him until his death, later marrying for a second time.
I don't know where I've been (probably buried under DVDs of Mannix, The White Shadow, I, Claudius and so on! LOL), but I had never heard of Toni Holt before this. That's some hairdo! A former model turned Hollywood columnist, she later became heavily involved in politics (oddly enough with both major parties.) Gee, I wonder what project Frank Sinatra and Otto Preminger were mulling over... And Rita Hayworth as Aimee?! Interesting prelude to the Cosmo centerfold explosion. As for the marriage talk, Richard Harris did wed in 1974, to Ann Turkel. No children. When Anne Baxter finally did remarry in 1977, her husband died within a year of unexpected illness! Johnny Carson, of course, marred TWO more times, the final one lasting till his death.
I had no clue that there had ever been an attempt to turn Lolita into a Broadway musical. As it happens, the show "Lolita, My Love" had book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by the great John Barry. Despite a cast including John Neville, Dorothy Louden, Leonard Frey and Denise Nickerson (of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971!) as the title temptress, it closed prior to reaching the Great White Way...
Those who were "ailing"... Tennessee Williams lived until 1983, dying when the cap from a container of eye drops fell into his throat while he was reclining to put them in! Barbara Hutton had much tragedy to come at this point. In 1972, her only child died in a plane crash and she continued to deteriorate until her death in 1979. I have Jolie Gabor's book and it was a compelling read. As for Zsa Zsa Gabor and George Sanders, she went back home to find that Sanders had opted to marry her own sister! Sanders and Magda Gabor wed in December of 1970, but it was kaput within a month. Doug McClure's marriage produced a child, but was over by 1979. He then wed a different Diane who was with him until his death in 1995. Cynthia Bouron? Now there's a story. A showgirl and something of a con artist, she fabricated an elaborate plot against Cary Grant (this only a few years after her second husband killed both himself and the estranged wife of Mickey Rooney!) and then was found dead in 1973 at age thirty-nine, having been tied-up, bludgeoned and stuck in the trunk of a car!! Truth is often stranger than fiction...
Tony Bennett did marry Sandra Grant, though they hit a rough patch during his career decline in the late-1970s and eventually divorced. Barbara McNair did divorce her husband in 1971 and proceeded to marry three more times. Rex Harrison's marriage to Elizabeth lasted only from 1971-1975. His final marriage in 1979 lasted until his 1995 death.
No one's "Naked." It's just the first page of a "Naked Hollywood" section. Look at Paul Newman's taller, but similar looking, brother! I can't recall seeing him before.
Case History Number One is Peter Lawford. Case Number Two I'm not sure of. Could quite possibly be George Hamilton, though he certainly lasted long beyond this.
The Jacqueline Bisset/Michael Sarrazin movie saw release as Believe in Me (1971.) Hold on, Jon Voight used to date Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie?!! (Charlotte Stewart.)
As a matter of fact, Phillippe Forquet was never again to work in Hollywood! He returned to France and was out of the acting biz by 1978, though as a real life count he hardly needed the money. As for Elliott Gould and Portnoy's Complaint (1972)? Sorry, but Richard Benjamin played that part. Warren Beatty's movie with Julie Christie was released as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971.)
I didn't scan in any ads apart from those on partial pages, but this one was too hooty to leave out. Just look at this crap and read the descriptions for it! Although a sick part of me wants that centerpiece for an atmospheric indoor luau. Ha ha!
Still on with the gossip...! Ethel Kennedy, mother of ELEVEN, trips the light fantastic. I am so in love right now with the term "compromise midi!" As for Claudine Longet and Andy Williams... no wonder they call it "La La Land." And so much more was to come. Her Celeb-Am Tennis Open reminds me of the later SNL parody on her only with skiers! Jack Jones' elaborate third wedding was not to be. He married six times in all!
Joe Namath never made "Johnny Miami." His next film after The Last Rebel (1971) didn't come until 1979! Poor Debbie Reynolds worked and worked (and spent and spent!) to try to preserve Hollywood's history with that museum and could never get it to last successfully. Sad. The actress that Lee Meriwether replaced was Claudette Nevins, a frequent TV guest star from the 1970s through the 2000s. Bobby Sherman made no movie around this time until the little-known He is My Brother (1975.)
Though no one ever talks about it, The New Dick Van Dyke Show actually ran for three seasons and costarred Hope Lange and Fannie Flagg. Only two seasons were done in Arizona, the third in Hollywood. Creator Carl Reiner left when CBS refused to air an episode they felt was too far afield from Van Dyke's image and the show folded soon after. Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden divorced in 1974.
He might have been innocent on this occasion, but Bob Crane was a swinger! I had never heard of Dick Jensen, who was Hawaii's answer to James Brown and Tom Jones for a period of time. Doug McClure's baby turned out to be another girl, called Valerie.
A cross-section of movies then in release. They were surprisingly kind to Song of Norway (1970), a notorious dud. I hadn't ever heard of The Pizza Triangle (1970), which made quite an impression on the reviewer.
We're still not done chewing the celebrity fat! Now columnist Pamela Mason has her turn. When she divorced James Mason in 1964, she took him to the cleaners...!
Portland Mason was the daughter of the columnist and a child actress in the 1950s and '60s. She died at fifty-five after a stroke, not long after her father James' passing.

David Hedison had one of Tinseltown's most enduring marriages. He wed Bridget in 1968 and they remained together until her death in 2016. He passed away three years later at age ninety-two. Lee Marvin also got it right in marrying Pamela Feeley (after his celebrated "palimony" trial) as she was with him until his death in 1987.
Interesting blurb about a slick hold-up at Georgio's boutique in Beverly Hills. Needless to say, Burt Lancaster didn't retire anytime soon. Regarding the Linda Henning bit about her cats, Pamela and James Mason always had teeming hordes of cats and presumably she kept up that habit after their divorce. The references to Blood, Sweat & Tears' David Clayton Thomas are due to the fact that Portland Mason was his then-girlfriend.
You just know this headline is going to be some sort of bait & switch...
Little-remembered now after their thirty-five year marriage, but Cash had been married beforehand with four daughters and June Carter wed twice prior with a daughter from each when he divorced his wife and married her. As you can guess, this article was about their great love for their one and only boy amid six girls. He grew up to be a successful singer, songwriter and country music producer.
This was quite a television assemblage on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, featuring winners of the Photoplay Awards. Man at far left was the president of Photoplay. Check out that set...!
Karen Valentine's husband is listed as "Steve" though his name was actually Carl McLaughlin. I get a little giddy when I see men in tuxes like his since that is the style found in favorite movies of mine like The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974.) Mrs. Brolin, by the way, was Jane - Josh's mother. They divorced in 1984.
I always like to see lasting couples in Hollywood, especially since there are so few. Peter Lupus married Sharon in 1960 and they are still together today! Mark Slade (barely visible in the seam of the mag) is still wed to his wife Melinda since 1968.
Robert Lansing's blonde wife Gari would find herself divorced from him this same year. How awful that the only pic they published of frail Groucho Marx was an unflattering one from behind. He lived until 1977.
I think we all know this couple upon first glance.

The Burtons seem pretty happy still at this stage though, cinematically speaking, the bloom was coming off the rose with duds like Under Milk Wood (1971) and Hammersmith is Out (1972) - and other individual films - on the horizon.
This looks like a pretty affectionate photo between John "The Duke" Wayne and his third and final wife Pilar.
Then you see the headline next to it! Wayne and his wife did hit a rough patch three years in, mostly thanks to his unforgiving movie schedule, but generally held it together afterwards despite some fiery arguments along the way. This one allegedly began because she was taking too long to get ready for Oscar night! In any event, they remained wed until his death in 1979 and shared three children. (She remarried and divorced two more times after that!) She is still alive today at ninety-one.
Doris Day was very close to her son. He died of melanoma in 2004 while she lived on until 2019 when pneumonia claimed her at age ninety-seven.
Doris' TV show was still on the air at this time and she had yet to recede almost completely from the limelight to her home in Carmel.
The unusual relationship of Claudine Longet and Andy Williams...
As noted earlier in this magazine, she and Williams were separated, yet continued to vacation as a family and even played tennis doubles together against her current boyfriend! They finally did divorce in 1975 and the following year she shot and killed her Olympic skier boyfriend. Williams paid all her legal fees and accompanied her to trial whereupon though mishandling of evidence she wound up serving only a 30 day sentence (fulfilled on weekends!) and then turned around a few years later and married her attorney...! You can't make this stuff up. The two live together in the ski paradise of Aspen, Colorado.
Continuing with the crazy, we come to Gig Young. A once-promising young actor, his personal life spiraled thanks to alcoholism though he was able to continue with a successful mid-level career. He even took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969.) He'd been married and divorced, then widowed, then married and divorced from Bewitched's Elizabeth Montgomery, then wed again to a woman already pregnant with his child.
After their divorce, during a child support battle, he suddenly denied parentage of the daughter! (He claimed a 1938 vasectomy at age twenty-five was the proof, but he was later declared the child's father regardless.) In 1978, he wed for a fifth time, this time to a German gal half his age. Three weeks later, he shot her to death and then took his own life! No note was left, nor any reason known for the act.
Raymond Burr is yet another captivating figure. A middling movie star with a few bright spots (such as Rear Window, 1954), his theatrics as a trial attorney in A Place in the Sun (1951) helped win him the role of Perry Mason, a TV show that ran for nine seasons and would have continued had the expense of switching to color not become a factor. He went into Ironside next, as a wheelchair-bound investigator, and that ran for eight more seasons.
Always struggling with his weight, he got progressively larger as Perry Mason wore on and the same can be said of his time on Ironside. (By the time of the Perry Mason TV-movies...? Help me, Jesus!) Living in a wheelchair can very hard on a person who doesn't actually need it. (I know this from personal experience.) And a three pack-a-day cigarette habit didn't help his overall heath. But what fascinates is that this iconic television figure, who every viewer welcomed into their home week after week as an ideal example of a heterosexual male hero of sorts, lived with his male lover from 1960 until his death in 1993 and had put forth a litany of untrue backstories about prior wives and a deceased son. I don't think one could quite get away with that in today's information age.
Catherine Hawn, shown here with Dean Martin, eventually became his third wife in 1973. The union only lasted until 1976, however.
The man Jeanne was being squired around by, Frank Calcaginni, went on to star in the comedy flick The Last Porno Movie (1974), which was not actually a porno movie. It's generally acknowledged that Dean and Jeanne should not have split (being wed since 1949), but they did. They managed to remain friends and, later, it was she who was there to help ease him through the lung cancer and emphysema that led to his death at seventy-eight. She lived to be eighty-nine.
Okay, well this time the story actually is rather creepy!
The drug-addled man was beginning to get too familiar and a little dangerous, so Chad Everett went and got one of the Colt revolvers he'd kept from his time on The Dakotas and ordered the guy out! Then he got the license plate and gave it to the police. The Everetts were still another example of a happy Hollywood marriage, albeit a very old fashioned one in which he wore the pants. Their marriage lasted from 1966 until her death of an aneurysm in 2011.
Another marriage that ought to have lasted, but didn't was that of Steve McQueen and Neile Adams. Having met and married in 1956, their union couldn't survive his later superstardom. During this period of together/not together, Adams had an abortion of their child. They divorced in 1972.
McQueen married two more times. She married once more in 1980 and was wed until her husband's 2005 death. Adams is still alive today at eighty-eight. Her grandson, Steven R. McQueen is a successful television actor.
Mary Tyler Moore apparently wrestled with the notion as a young girl of entering the convent as a nun. Maybe this is why she took the role of a (false eyelash-wearing) nun in Change of Habit (1969) with Elvis Presley!
Had she become a nun, we wouldn't have had the same version of The Dick Van Dyke Show we all know, not to mention The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She and second husband Grant Tinker shocked everyone in 1981 when they split. She married her mother's doctor in 1983 and that lasted until her 2017 death.

Whatever one thinks of Andy Griffith, he definitely was not a loser. Dirt poor as a child, sleeping in a dresser drawer as a baby, he eventually found acting on stage, proceeded to humorous monologues, the recording of which led to TV acting and the Broadway stage. Then he starred in a few movies and went on the considerable success of both The Andy Griffith Show and, later, Matlock. (I just watched my very first ever Matlock last week! LOL Kevin Conroy was a guest and I had to see him.)
We're used to seeing Kennedy family members in funeral attire. This instance is a rather rare one, I think.
Cardinal Cushing, a close advisor and counselor to the family had died of cancer at age seventy-five. Cushing (who retired one year before this) had presided over JFK's marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier and performed the mass at JFK's funeral.

Our final story involves Patty Duke and Desi Arnaz Jr. They were part of a paternity scandal that stretched from this point up through the 2000s when the baby became a noted actor himself.
Lucille Ball was not at all amused that her son Desi (who was seventeen when he dated Patty Duke!) might be the father of Duke's soon-to-come baby. Duke didn't know if it was Desi's baby or music promoter Mike Tell's. She married Tell, but the union lasted only thirteen days. After the baby was born, she married John Astin, who adopted the baby, but still believed it to be Desi's.
Years later, the baby - Sean Astin - became an actor in his own right. He had been told Arnaz was his father, was adopted by Astin, but from 1986 on had a stepfather through Duke's subsequent marriage to Michael Pierce and then through DNA testing found out that his actual father was Tell all along. "My Four Dads!"

You're never going to see a "tribute" here to alcoholic murderer Gig Young, but I did want to share some photos of him as a young man when he held such promise. It's a shame that his life went off the rails the way it did. For so many years, he'd been a genial and well-liked person in Hollywood, but clearly grappled with some internal demons.

Prior to 1942, the actor was known as Byron Barr. When he played a role called Gig Young in The Gay Sisters (1942), and was so beloved by preview audiences referring to "Gig Young," he took the name professionally thereafter!

Young almost never did beefcake in his movies or in still photos.

He played on-screen men devoted to both Bette Davis...

...and Joan Crawford.

It was he who hosted Warner Brothers Presents on TV.

Rare shirtless photos of Mr. Young in a predicament.

He was twice Oscar-nominated for portraying alcoholics: Come Fill the Cup (1951), with the award going to Karl Malden in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Teacher's Pet (1958), with the award going to Burl Ives in The Big Country. When he won for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) he was an alcoholic himself and it affected much of his later work (including his being fired from Blazing Saddles, 1974. The role went to Gene Wilder with just days notice.)

He was a handsome young man.