Monday, August 27, 2012

Thelma Ritter costume from "A New Kind of Love" designed by Edith Head in 1963

The great character actress Thelma Ritter, who is known for co-starring in such classics as "All About Eve" and "Rear Window," wore this two piece dress and matching jacket in the 1963 Paramount comedy "A New Kind of Love." It starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and co-starred Ritter along with Eva Gabor, George Tobias, and Marvin Kaplan, with a special guest appearance by Maurice Chevalier as himself. It's a classic early 60's sex comedy, with Newman and Woodward playing total opposites who of course fall in love by the end of the movie. It takes place in the fashion world of Paris and is a lot of fun.




 


Joanne Woodward, Thelma Ritter, George Tobias, and Eva Gabor

 

 
She wears the dress for two scenes in the movie, when they're flying to Paris, which is a long and funny segment of the movie, and after they get there and go to the airport bar for a drink. The photo above is from the bar scene. I've been looking for other photos of her wearing it, so if anyone ever spots any please let me know! I'd like to get one of her wearing it in the previous scenes when she doesn't have the coat on. Here are some screen grabs of it...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The dress was designed by Edith Head who was credited for doing all of the costumes for the movie, as well as every other movie Paramount made between 1936 and the early 70's. However, today it is widely believed that Head only designed for the major stars, if even then, and it was her staff that designed most of the costumes. The dress is two piece, with the skirt and matching jacket made of a wool knit with a fine herringbone weave pattern. A black silk shell is attached to the skirt making it one piece, and the jacket goes over it with frog closures in the front. It's very elegant in an older lady sort of way. Thelma Ritter was usually cast in roles playing a maid or secretary where her wardrobe would be pretty lackluster. In this movie her wardrobe is much nicer and she looks like a million since her character works for a fashion company.

              Below is the Paramount studio label with her name written in faded ink...



A costume from Paramount Studios was typically labeled this way, using a small cloth tag with the studio's name printed on it in script, which is basically their logo. The same script writing of the name "Paramount" has been used since the studio was founded back in 1912. This costume also has "PAR" written in it, for "Paramount" of course, which is also seen in many of the studios costumes, even ones without a cloth label, or ones that are just stamped with a "Paramount Pictures Ladies Wardrobe" costume stamp. This one doesn't have the stamp, just the label and "PAR." There was no rhyme or reason to how they did it. Some costumes I've seen just have the "PAR", others have a named label or even a blank one, others have the wardrobe stamp, and others have all three! And then some may even have a dry cleaning tag with "PAR" printed on it as well as the label or markings. Paramount liquidated most of their vintage costumes through resale shops in Hollywood years ago, and in an auction at Christies back in 1990, so they do turn up, and the label/stamp/markings all indicate that it's an authentic piece from the studio.  

 
 

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