Gene Kelly comes face to foot with Cyd Charisse, “Singin' in the Rain,” 1952.
Glamour depends on mystery, the art of concealment. Hollywood stars of the past and their handlers understood that to maintain the image projected on the screen was a full-time job. Hard working stars like Joan Crawford never appeared in public less than impeccably turned out. Even at their most casual, Hollywood stars of the golden age projected an aura of easy elegance.
The other day I was shopping in Brooks Brothers on Rodeo Drive. A Hollywood star was browsing on the same floor. He was wearing ripped jeans, a stained T shirt, and grimy flip-flops. It’s a sad day in Hollywood when a lowly screenwriter—“shmucks with Underwoods,” said
John Ford Jack Warner—presents a more refined image than a million dollar an episode TV star.
Anyhoo, the following pictures stand witness to great stars who, right down to their spectacular footwear, understood and cultivated the art of high glamour.
I'm pretty sure that Paulette Goddard's b. Marion Pauline Levy, (1910 – 1990) legs are the real subject of this photo. But her two-tone pumps steal the show. Goddard's best film is the little-seen “Kitty,” 1945.
Hard at work during World War II, Marlene Dietrich (1901 – 1992) b. Marie Magdalene Dietrich, is never less than beautiful and glamorous in what are probably custom-made ankle strap heels. Said Dietrich: “Legs are nothing special—unless you know what to do with them.”
On the day Jean Harlow (1911 – 1937) b. Harlean Harlow Carpenter and MGM executive Paul Bern (1889 – 1932) b. Paul Levy, announced their engagement in 1932, Harlow's big nod to fashion was her elegantly adorned pumps. Two months after their marriage, Bern was found at home naked with a fatal gunshot to the head.
Ginger Rogers, (1911 – 1995) b. Virginia Katherine McMath, doesn't look like she's breaking much of a sweat on the court. Her tennis shoes are not very practical but they are a cute fashion statement.
Gail Patrick, (1911 – 1980) b. Margaret LaVelle Fitzpatrick, specialized in playing the frosty and controlling rival to the leading lady. Her iconic performance in “My Favorite Wife” opposite Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, is pitch perfect. Whip smart and trained as a lawyer, she was never satisfied as an actress and retired from films in 1948. Patrick became the highly successful producer of the Perry Mason TV series from 1957-1966. Beautiful and stylish it's hard to know whether to look at her lovely face, the pigeons, or the graphic, horizontal-lined heels, total scene-stealers.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a fashionable and inspirational Shabbat.