by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

In honor of the season’s holidays, we have on display at the ARC the actual “candy cane” jacket worn by Gene Kelly in the musical Take Me Out to the Ball Game, 1949, directed by Busby Berkeley.

Kelly played Eddie O’Brien and starred along with Frank Sinatra and Esther Williams.

The men’s costumes were designed by a gentleman who just went by one name: Valles. His full name was J. Arlington Valles and he worked at MGM for two decades, winning a costume Oscar ® along with Bill Thomas for Spartacus. He specialized in men’s costumes (Helen Rose did the women’s costumes in this film) and he was an excellent costume illustrator.

As you can see by the close-ups in the photos, the jacket is in very fine condition for being 60 years old and, rather than a woven red stripe, it is actually achieved with applied chain-stitched yarn! See how the lines match up so beautifully – a mark of true tailoring. The jacket is fully lined and the inside pocket bears the usual Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer label with Kelly’s name and a production number. This is typical of labels used in all MGM wardrobe at that time.

The current display features a man’s torso with a carved wooden base, which was donated by my dear friends, the artists Pamela and Gregory Weir-Quiton.

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