Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wacky tacky Icons: Al Hirschfeld

Al Hirschfeld
June 21, 1903 - January 20, 2003

When I was young I wanted to be rich and famous.  Rich because, well, who doesn't want a few extra scheckels to rub together?  Famous because I wanted my portrait done by Al Hirschfeld.  I really thought, and continue to think, that being immortalized by "The Line King" is the height of celebrity.  With a few deft strokes of his pen or brush, Hirschfeld was able to fully capture not only the stars' looks, but their personalities, their mannerisms, their foibles, and their charms.

Marilyn Monroe

Groucho Marx

Lucille Ball & Robert Preston from Mame

Bing Crosby

Betty Hutton

Carol Channing

Diane Keaton & Woody Allen from Annie Hall

Lena Horne

Bob Hope

"Apollo Chorine"

Rex Harrison & Julie Andrews from My Fair Lady

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Yul Brynner as the King of Siam

The Beatles

Born in St. Louis, Hirschfeld did all of the things that a budding artist in the 1920's should do including the obligatory stint in Paris.   Back in the U.S., he found work as a cartoonist for The New York Times and quickly made a name for himself as America's premier caricaturist.  Because his career spanned eight decades and included political figures, society luminaries, and stars of music, stage, and screen, his work came to define the medium in the 20th Century. His style was so unique and spare that a Hirschfeld caricature is identifiable at first sight.  The quality and impact of his artistry are astounding; with a minimum of line and shape he created master works.  His influence was so profound that many modern cartoonists, illustrators, caricaturists, and animators cite his work as inspiration for their own work.  In fact, the "Rhapsody in Blue" animated sequence from Walt Disney's Fantasia 2000 is an homage to the genius of Al Hirschfeld.

"Rhapsody in Blue"
Fantasia 2000

As the great Line King has moved on to his great reward, it seems highly improbable that I will have my portrait made any time soon.  In his absence I do feel a modicum of relief, only because if the day had ever come when the master caricaturist and illustrator did find me a worthy subject, the internal conflict would be huge; with the thrill of achievement would come the overwhelming, petrifying terror.  On which of my many "flaws" would Hirschfeld choose to focus - exaggerate even - to create my caricature?  Would it be my big ears?  My crooked teeth?  My chubby cheeks?  My funny nose? My oversized form? All of the above?  Even still, I would risk it.  In reviewing his work, I can't imagine that any of the stars could feel anything but flattered. 

The Line King , himself

At this point in my life, I am satisfied being neither rich nor famous.  In fact, I'm quite content with my magic combination of poverty and anonymity, but what I wouldn't give to have Al Hirschfeld draw my picture.


Mr. Tiny

Sunday, November 27, 2011

wacky tacky goes Hollywood: Part II

Earlier this year we made our way up to The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills for the auction preview of Debbie Reynolds' vast collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia.  The costumes were amazing and Debbie Reynolds' foresight in collecting and preserving these pieces of Hollywood history was truly profound.  Fortunately, we made it (see blog post) - but just barely - on closing day.  When we heard that there would be a second exhibit of even more costumes, we committed to going but being the world-class procrastinators that we are, we again put it off until nearly the eleventh hour (the exhibit ends this week with the auction on Saturday, December 3).  Luckily, I was able to meet up with some friends, including fellow-bloggers Beth from V is for Vintage and Lauren from Wearing History.

The costumes that were on display this time were a little less spectacular than the previous exhibit - Marilyn Monroe's dress from The Seven Year Itch, Maria's dress from The Sound of Music, Dorothy's ruby slippers.  Also, it appears that a little less time was taken in the curation; not every piece in the auction was on display and not every piece was described in detail as was the case in the former exhibit.

This dress, for example, was described as "MGM dress worn by Joan Crawford."
It's funny sometimes how fine a line is drawn between stunning,
1940's glamour gown and crazy "Golden Girls" nightmare.

Having aired my grievances, it must be said that the entire preview catalog is available online and in spite of my minor gripes, the exhibit was still pretty spectacular.  If Reynolds' collection consisted only of the pieces we saw this time, I would still consider her a wise and wealthy woman.  I didn't get pictures of every item, so perhaps the best way to present these photos is by the stars who wore them, starting with Reynolds herself.


It Started with a Kiss (1959)
worn by Debbie Reynolds

What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)
worn by Debbie Reynolds

What's the Matter with Helen?
This is too "goody, goody" to miss.


Show costume
worn by Sonja Henie

Show Parasol costume/prop
worn by Sonja Henie

Show costume
worn by Sonja Henie

Show costume
worn by Sonja Henie


My Blue Heaven (1950)
worn by Betty Grable

The Girl Next Door (1953)
worn by June Haver

Both films co-starred Dan Dailey!

Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943)
worn by Betty Grable

Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
worn by Betty Grable


Star! (1968)
worn by Julie Andrews

Star! (1968)
worn by Julie Andrews

 Details of the beautiful beading

"The Physician"
Star! (1968)


Niagara (1953)
worn by Marilyn Monroe

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
worn by Marilyn Monroe

Bus Stop (1956)
worn by Marilyn Monroe

Let's Make Love (1960)
worn by Marilyn Monroe


Remember the Day (1941)
worn by Claudette Colbert

Without Reservations (1946)
worn by Claudette Colbert
This one is going to get the
Mr. Tiny treatment.


Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
worn by Doris Day 

Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
worn by Doris Day

Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
worn by Doris Day

The Glass-Bottom Boat (1966)
worn by Doris Day

 I was pretty excited to see the Doris Day costumes.
She is one of my favorite stars and I have always
thought the mermaid costume was awesome!

The Glass-Bottom Boat (1966)
This movie is about as corny and awesome as it can get -
Paul Lynde as an undercover, transvestite, NASA security guard.


Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)
Jayne Mansfield 

With a Song in My Heart (1952)
worn by Susan Hayward

The Opposite Sex (1956)
worn by June Allyson

Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
worn by Eve Arden

Detail of the illusion bodice with 3-D, wired stars.

The Unfinished Dance (1947)
worn by Cyd Charisse

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
worn by Jane Powell

The Great American Broadcast (1941)
worn by Alice Faye

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
worn by Dorothy Lamour
Loving the modesty pearls...

Hello Frisco, Hello (1943)
worn by Lynn Bari

Hello Frisco, Hello (1943)
worn by June Havoc

Showboat (1951)
worn by Marge Champion

Kiss Me Kate (1953)
worn by Ann Miller

Jitterbugs (1943)
worn by Stan Laurel

Up in Central Park (1948)
worn by Deanna Durbin
Deanna is another one of my absolute favorites!

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
worn by Myrna Loy

20th Century Fox dress
worn by Carmen Miranda

This hat had the reverent duty of resting atop
Maureen O'Hara's most beautiful head!!!

Overall, it was another great showing of Hollywood history - Irene, Adrian, Helen Rose, Edith Head, Jean Louis, Walter Plunkett, and more.  A serious "thank you" is owed to Debbie Reynolds for being clever enough to save all these things from the ravages of time and studio dumpsters!

I guess if I could have stolen anything from the
 exhibit, it would have been this piece.
Doris Day's boobies were here!


Mr. Tiny