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Costumes Winter 2010

Louise Coffey-Webb - Culver City Historical Societyby Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair


This has been a busy, full and very productive year for the ARC and the costume collections we have been able to display for the public.

We began the year with a display of the “candy cane” jacket that the great Gene Kelly wore in the musical, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, directed by Busby Berkeley in 1949. It was designed by Valles (full name: J. Arlington Valles, who worked for MGM for two decades). It brought back lots of happy memories for many locals!

In March, before I had the incredible opportunity to take a trip to China (made possible by the Maxine Frankel Foundation) I had just enough time to change out a costume display to highlight the 70th celebration of what many consider to be the greatest year in all filmdom: 1939. Though we do not yet have a costume from the classic Gone With The Wind, we were able to find a gown (c. 1860 and the Civil War) from the wonderful film, The Pirate, starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.

The trip to China included visits to Chinese Vogue, Image consultants, couture designers and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. It is an extraordinary time for Chinese fashion right now – they are integrating their incredible history with their enormous appetite for new fashions and styles, resulting in a unique sensibility.

This Fall, and continuing into 2010, we will continue the dedicated work to finish cataloguing the MGM Costume Collection at the ARC. The final step in this process is to convert all the information onto our new computer database system – and our new VP, Museum/Archives Winston Gieseke, who is a computer wizard, will make it happen!


Avery Clayton, who headed the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum located in Culver City, died on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 62.

His mother, Mayme A. Clayton, had spent a lifetime assembling a major collection of African-American artifacts – gathering a treasure trove of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, feature films and other ephemera. Several scholars have called the collection one of the most important of its kind in the country.

After his mother’s passing in 2006 at 83, Avery took over the mantel to create an appropriate source to house and display his mother’s extraordinary collection. “Her part was to assemble the collection,” Clayton often said. “I really believe my part is to bring it to the world.”

The CCHS sends its condolences to the Clayton family and friends, and its best wishes to Cynthia Hudley, a UC Santa Barbara education professor, who has been named interim executive director of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum. We look forward to continuing our friendship as sister Culver City historical organizations.

I wish you all a wonderful 2010!

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