Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shirley MacLaine dress worn in the Oscar winning classic "Terms of Endearment"



A floral print dress worn in her Oscar winning role as Aurora Greenway...


"Terms of Endearment" is a beautiful portrayal of the relationship between a mother and daughter over the course of their lives... their loving yet strained bond, the ups and downs they face, and the men in their lives. MacLaine is perfect as the sassy yet wise Aurora, and Debra Winger plays her free spirited daughter Emma. It also stars Jack Nicholson as Garret, their next door neighbor who's also an astronaut, and who becomes Aurora's love interest. Jeff Daniels plays Emma's husband, and John Lithgow plays a banker who becomes close to Emma. Danny Devito is great in a small part as one of Aurora's friends and hopeful suitors. Everyone is perfect in their roles, the movie couldn't have been cast better... In addition to MacLaine winning the Oscar for Best Actress, the movie also won the Oscar for Best Picture, Nicholson won for Best Supporting Actor, and James L. Brooks won for writing and directing... All in all it won five Oscars at the Academy Awards of 1983 as well as many other awards that year. 

I think what makes the movie work so well in addition to the fine acting, writing, and directing, is how easy it is to relate to. The story is very realistic and the performances are very natural. You feel as though you know these characters as real people. And when it starts to get very dramatic and the tears start to flow (this movie is a known tear-jerker), you get caught up in it because of how real the emotions of the actors are. It's just very well done. The movie was filmed entirely on location which is another reason why it feels very real. There's no glossy Hollywood-ness to it at all, yet it's still very well made. The music is also top notch, and the sets and costumes of course. Each character has a very distinct style and the clothes really reflect their personalities. 

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A little about our star for this post, the great Miss Shirley MacLaine...

James L. Brooks, Shirley, and Jack Nicholson at the Oscars in 1983

Shirley MacLaine was born in Richmond, Virginia and started taking ballet as a child. She went on to do theater in high school and then tried her luck on Broadway. She was in the cast of "The Pajama Game" as a chorus girl and was also the understudy for star Carol Haney. One night when Haney broke her ankle Shirley went on in her place and was a great success. A talent scout from Warner Brothers caught one of her performances and offered her a contract in Hollywood. She tells this whole story of how she was discovered in the documentary "Broadway, the Golden Years," and it's one of those great classic show-biz stories. The famous Broadway director Harold Prince mentions how everyone in the theater community was telling her not to go, that she'll miss the moment on Broadway since she was now an overnight success, but she decided to try Hollywood, and that was the start of her legendary movie career...

Shirley, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson during filming
 
She began her career right at the end of the glory days of the studio system, her first movie was Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry," not a bad way to start... She's gone on to star in such classics as "Some Came Running," "The Apartment," "The Children's Hour," "Sweet Charity," "The Turning Point," "Being There," "Steel Magnolias," and "Postcards From the Edge," among many others. One of her little known gems is "Hot Spell" which she made with Shirley Booth and Anthony Quinn, a very well done movie that is too forgotten. She was also excellent as a supporting character in "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway" starring Robert Duvall and Richard Harris, another really well acted movie that is worth seeing... 
 
Shirley continues to make movies today, and over the years she's had great success doing variety and stage shows, since she's always been a great singer and dancer as well as actress. She's also done extensive TV and theater work, and is also know for the many books she's written about spirituality and her career. She's won practically every major award that there is in the entertainment world, including most recently the Kennedy Center Honor in 2013.

Her wikipedia link where more detail is given about her career... 

And here's a link to Shirley's website... 

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Shirley wears the dress when she's in the gazebo of her backyard, and Jack Nicholson comes over to talk to her. He wants to end their relationship since he's feeling too much of an obligation... she basically takes it in stride, even though she's visibly upset, and of course they wind up getting back together later in the movie...




















The dress is made of silk with a floral and polka dot/stripe print, with lace trim on the bodice, sleeves, and hem of the skirt. The top is a nude silk and the skirt is cream silk, both with the same print. The belt was made to match the polka dots in the print. The look of it is very much her character in the movie, a well-to-do proper Southern lady. 
 
The costumes were designed by Kristi Zea, who also did the costumes for "Fame" and "Silverado". She's most well known as a production designer, having worked on "Goodfellas," and "Philadelphia", among other films. Here's a link to her website... 
 

The dress was originally sold at Paramount Studios costume auction held at Christie's in 1990. It was then sold at the store "Star Wares" sometime after that. It still has their hanging tags on the sleeve, as well as the original auction tags which you can see in the photos. I've since removed them when I put the dress in archival storage. 

The skirt was worn separately later in the movie when Shirley is returning to her motel after a long day visiting Debra Winger in the hospital...









It's interesting to see it being worn a second time in a different way, I guess the same way any person would re-wear something in their wardrobe. At first I thought it was a mistake during filming that it was being re-used, but it does make sense. The scene shows how drawn she is from dealing with her daughter's illness, coming back to the motel tired and disheveled. She's looking over at her grandsons who are playing in the arcade. This scene is right after her famous "give my daughter the shot!" scene, which is probably the most memorable one in the movie. If you haven't seen the movie yet, definitely put it on your list!


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