Friday, October 7, 2022

A beaded evening gown worn by Ginger Rogers to the 1965 Emmy Awards


A stunning black micro beaded evening gown trimmed in tulle that Ginger wore as a presenter

Ginger Rogers, undeniably one of the greatest stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. She could do it all, comedy, drama, sing, dance, and had a career lasting 6 decades, from the early 30's through the early 80's. 

Her greatest decade was the 30's, when she first burst on the scene singing "We're in the Money" in pig latin in Busby Berkeley's "Gold Diggers of 1933." It was not long after that she teamed up with Fred Astaire to create some of the most beloved musicals of all time. Their incredible dancing, on screen chemistry, and original songs by the likes of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, etc, made for movie magic, with the Art Deco gloss that was 30's Hollywood thrown in. To this day you can't watch one of those movies and not feel good. 

She also excelled at comedy, in movies like "Vivacious Lady," "Bachelor Mother," "Fifth Avenue Girl," and the classic comedy-drama "Stage Door" which has one of the greatest female casts ever assembled on screen.

In 1940 she won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a simple girl trying to navigate life in "Kitty Foyle." Another excellent drama from this time period is "Primrose Path" and the wartime drama "Tender Comrade."

Her career continued on a high note through the 40's, with the lavish "Lady in the Dark" as one of her best,  and in the 50's she excelled in the comedy "Monkey Business" and was truly sinister in the film noir "Black Widow."

She made fewer movies in the 60's and focused on stage, nightclub, and television work which she continued to do right through the 80's. She brought "Mame" to the London stage to great success and also toured with "Hello Dolly." Her nightclub act in the 70's and 80's played all of the major U.S. showrooms and even Radio City Music Hall. 

In the early 90's she released her autobiography, and continued to do book signings and appearances before her passing in 1995. 



Ginger has always been one of my all time favorites since I was a kid. I fell in love with the Astaire/Rogers movies and continued to watch Ginger in just about everything she ever did. I'm fortunate to have a few things from her in the collection, and my favorite is probably this gown since it's just so stunning, and she looks so radiant in it. 

Ginger gave out the award for best actor and actress, which went to Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne for their performances in Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of "The Magnificent Yankee" which was based on the life of Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas collected the awards for the Lunts. It's great to see these Hollywood legends all together at the ceremony.

Here's a closer up image of the beadwork. All done in a stripe pattern, it's just so well made. I wish I knew who the designer is. It's unlabeled and she most likely had it custom made by one of the designers of that time. I'm thinking maybe Donfeld? It's a little early to be Mackie. And I'm just assuming it's a Hollywood designer. 

Thanks for checking out my small tribute to the great Ginger Rogers. Amazing how it's 2022 and she's still such a beloved star of Hollywood's classic era, and deservedly so.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A costume worn by Veronica Lake from Paramount Studios

This Veronica Lake costume was designed by Edith Head for the movie "Saigon" made in 1948.

A Veronica Lake costume worn in the movie "Saigon" designed by Edith Head
"Saigon" is a tale of espionage and romance set in the Far East, and Lake co-stars with her frequent leading man, Alan Ladd. They became a popular on screen couple after their breakout roles in "This Gun For Hire" one of the more famous film noirs of the 40's. Their on screen chemistry was so intense that Paramount decided to team them up three more times, with "Saigon" being their last outing together. 

Veronica Lake found stardom practically overnight after playing a sexy nightclub singer in "I Wanted Wings," and her next film, Preston Sturges' "Sullivans Travels" co-starring Joel McCrea, made her an 'A' list leading lady at Paramount. During the 1940's she starred in many top movies at the studio before her career waned by the early 50's. She was also one of the pinup girls of WWII, and her famous "peek-a-boo" hairstyle of her bangs hanging down over one eye became a rage in 1941 and was widely copied by women who wanted the same sexy look. With that hairstyle and her smoldering beauty she became one of the sex symbols of the 1940's and was regarded as one of the most beautiful women in film.

For about 10 years she was a top star, but it all ended very suddenly and she practically fell into oblivion. There's the famous story of her living in a hotel in NYC and waiting tables there just to get by. However she did continue to act on stage and TV and also wrote an autobiography. Her life is one of those Hollywood stories that is almost folklore, of how it can give you fame and fortune and then it all disappears. Regardless of that, she does leave a lasting legacy of beauty on the screen, and is probably the most legendary actress of the 'film noir' genre. 

In "Saigon" she wears the costume for a long portion, as they are traveling to Saigon on a boat, and then arriving and checking into a hotel. It's a good 15 minutes of the movie and it's nice to see a costume on screen for that long. 

Designed by Edith Head, who ran the Paramount wardrobe department for decades, the costume is a cream silk crepe tunic with a brown paisley design, with side slits and raised buttons down one side, and matching cream silk wide leg pants. Both pieces have Paramount labels with "Lake" written on each, as well as Paramount Ladies Wardrobe stamps. 

A costume worn by Veronica Lake in the movie "Saigon" designed by Edith Head

 A view of the back...

I came to acquire the costume in a roundabout sort of way. It was originally sold in the 1990 Christies sale of selected costumes from the Paramount archives. It was bought by Debbie Reynolds in that sale, and then the tunic turned up at auction about 10 years ago when she sold a few things from her collection. At the time I didn't know about the pants, I assumed they were long gone. Then I stumbled upon the Christies catalog and saw the pants listed with the tunic, and thought that perhaps Debbie might still have them. As it turns out, the two pieces had gotten split up in her extensive collection over the years, and thankfully I was able to purchase the pants directly to put the costume back together. It's great that she bought it and preserved it in the incredible archive that she amassed, saving so many costumes and Hollywood artifacts, and I'm happy to now own it and hope to exhibit it someday.