Hollywood in Costume

on

Clifton Webb, Marlene Dietrich, and Elizabeth Allan at a Hollywood theme party held by Basil Rathbone and wife Ouida Bergere in 1935. The theme was “The Person You Most Admire.” Dietrich chose Leda of the famous fable, while her escort for the night, Elizabeth Allen, went as Dietrich. I couldn’t begin to tell you who Clifton is supposed to be. There is a lengthy description of this swan costume and the party in daughter Maria Riva’s biography. Reportedly, Marlene said this to her friend Travis on the phone:

“Are you going, Travis? Why don’t you get out the cock-feather dress from Shanghai Express and goes as Dietrich! … Gable will come as Lous B. Mayer — he doesn’t know anyone else to admire — and you know Crawford will come as Crawford! They will probably all want to come as themselves!”

Riva describes Elizabeth Allan’s costume:

Elizabeth Allan had become a friend and went as her idol, my mother. … [Dietrich] had Travis cut down one of her precious sets of tails and we all helped to dress her. Nellie did her hair, I put the pearl studs into the stiff shirt-front, my mother helped her into the pants, smoothing them with her hands down the legs, making sure they were not too long for the patent pumps. Then she positioned one of her best top hats, showed the overwhelmed girl how to put her hands in her trouser pockets and stand “a la Dietrich,” and laughed in appreciation of her perfect imitation.

***


Gable, Lombard, Mervyn Leroy, and Hearst at costume party in 1937. I hesitate to ask what Hearst’s suit is made of. Something that’s easy to hose off, apparently. Photo courtesy of Friends of 415 PCH.

***


Another photo from the same party at San Simeon, this time with Hearst and his hoseable jacket, Bette Davis, Louella Parsons and Mary Brian.

***

Linda Christian on Halloween in 1952. The original caption says this was both a Halloween party and a celebration of her new film, The Happy Time, which opened the same day.

***

Another Hollywood “come dressed as something-or-other” gala affair, this time hosted by Donald Ogden Stewart on September 9, 1933 with a theme of dressing as your favorite screen actor. Marlene Dietrich credited the Countess di Frasso, who is third from the left in this photo, for creating these parties, but obviously anyone who was anyone in Hollywood hosted them. Pictured are Cary Grant, Mary Pickford, Countess di Frasso, Tullio Carminati, and an unidentified sneaky guy in the back. Carminati is dressed as Maurice Chevalier, but I have no idea who the others are supposed to be. Photo and information courtesy Corbis. No relation.

***


From an AP Wirephoto as published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on November 25, 1940, with bonus black crop marks. From the caption on the back: STARS AS THEY WANTED TO BE: Edgar Bergen’s “Come as Your Childhood Ambition” party in Hollywood Saturday night gave film stars a chance to show how they would have acted if their youthful dreams had come true. Jean Hersholt had wanted to be a doctor; Bette Davis, a ballet dancer.

***


Gloria Swanson, Marion Davies, Constance Bennett and Jean Harlow at a Tyrolean-themed costume party held at Ocean House in Malibu, 1934.

Leave a Reply