NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR…
by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair
ANOTHER MGM COSTUME IDENTIFIED: #1608!
Currently on display in the ARC is a navy blue Renaissance-style costume from the original MGM cache belonging to the City, but now curated by the Historical Society (see photo). Until now, the only information available was what was written in the garment itself: “Helen Wood” and a number “1608.”
Now comes the fun part – the research! I called up my friend Marc Wanamaker (who authors the column “Reel Culver City” on pg. 3), who is the last word in film studio history. I gave him the number, 1608, which he recognized as an MGM production number. He looked it up and found that it was the film Give a Girl a Break from 1953.
Then I hopped on my computer to look at the wonderful film-buff website www.imdb.com to confirm that Helen Wood was indeed in that film. There I found that the character she played was Joanna Moss, and that the costume was designed by the great Helen Rose.
THE FILM’S DIRECTOR – STANLEY DONEN
Another interesting fact for me was that the director was Stanley Donen. I was Stanley’s personal assistant back in the early 1980s when he lived in Bel Air. His wife at the time was the lovely Yvette Mimieux, and she had had a starring role in another MGM film, The Wonderful World of the Brothers’ Grimm – a costume from which had also come up for auction a the famous 1970 MGM auction. That particular film won a costume Oscar© for Mary Wills in 1962, and one of those Renaissance-style costumes now resides in the collection at Woodbury University.
DISPLAYS TO BE ROTATED
At the ARC we plan to rotate costume displays because too much light can permanently weaken fibers and cause unseen as well as visible damage. I plan to research each costume so that we can provide an accurate label, and this way we can all keep learning more about the wonderful holdings we have.
On a personal note: I am extremely delighted to announce that I will become the new Chair of Fashion Design at Woodbury University beginning this coming July. This is a very exciting position for me, but means that I will now need to find someone to fill my old position to manage the Woodbury’s wonderful study collection – a job I will sadly relinquish due to time constraints.