Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer

Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer

Jay Jorgensen

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0762438053

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

All About Eve. Funny Face. Sunset Blvd. Rear Window. Sabrina. A Place in the Sun. The Ten Commandments. Scores of iconic films of the last century had one thing in common: costume designer Edith Head (1897–1981). She racked up an unprecedented 35 Oscar nods and 400 film credits over the course of a fifty-year career.

Never before has the account of Hollywood’s most influential designer been so thoroughly revealed—because never before have the Edith Head Archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences been tapped. This unprecedented access allows this book to be a one-of-a-kind survey, bringing together a spectacular collection of rare and never-before-seen sketches, costume test shots, behind-the- scenes photos, and ephemera.





















and a row of buttons down Hunt’s back. They were all perfectly beautiful and could have been worn by any college student that season. However, the suit of gray Kasha trimmed in platinum fox that Hunt also wore, may have been out of the reach for the typical college student of the period. Hunt wore a daffodil tulle gown with gold sequins on the skirt and waistband from College Holiday, to the various parties and theatres in Washington D.C., and finally to the White House for all of the events

adapted it for the screen. Barbara Stanwyck was cast in the film as Leona Stevenson, a bedridden heiress to a drug fortune. When Stevenson accidentally overhears a phone conversation between two men planning to murder her, she becomes more and more frantic as her attempts to get help fail. The screen version was opened up considerably from the radio version, which had been essentially a one-woman show. Scenes were added showing Leona as a young woman, allowing Edith to design an expanded

auburn-haired actress Rhonda Fleming on screen in character parts. Producer David O. Selznick, to whom Fleming was under contract, cast the actress in moody black-and-white films such as Spellbound (1945) and the Spiral Staircase (1945). In 1949, Selznick loaned Fleming to Paramount to star opposite Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Frank Richardson assigned Mary Kay Dodson to do the designing duties on the color film. Technicolor seemed to be made for Fleming, but

Edith and director Frank Capra playfully adjust the swimsuit of Carolyn Jones on the set of A Hole in the Head. In 1956, producer Hal Wallis had a young man screen tested for the role in The Rainmaker that eventually was given to Burt Lancaster. Wallis still signed the man to a non-exclusive seven-year-contract and, realizing that heavily dramatic parts were not necessarily his best fit, began to develop light frothy musicals to showcase him. Elvis Presley had gyrated his way to fame on the

in a polyester-knit fabric. At the time, airline uniforms were short and sexy. But since Bisset was going to meet with a disaster, the uniform was kept on the conservative side. In an interview seven years later, Edith credited Bisset with having “one of the greatest bodies I’ve ever worked with. But besides that she is rather the opposite, because she is so damned intelligent. It’s a strange combination, almost a double personality.” Helen Hayes won an Oscar for her role as Ada Quonsett, the

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