Tag Archive | 1940s

A Birthday Tribute to Film Noir Legend, Jane Greer

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Jane Greer

Jane Greer was born Bettejane Greer on Sept. 9 1924 in Washington DC and she came into this world destined for success.

Groomed from childhood to feel at home in the spotlight, she took  part in childhood beauty contests and talent shows. At 15 she was afflicted with Bell’s Palsy, which paralyzed one side of her face. But Jane worked tirelessly on facial exercises and was able to overcome her disability.  She was a very determined young lady! Left  high school in her senior year to sing in club bands,  continued to model and dreamed of a career in acting. At age 18  she was chosen to model the army’s new WAC uniform which was featured in Life Magazine. There she caught the eye of Howard Hughes. Hughes was captivated and had little trouble convincing the aspiring actress to come to Los Angeles. There her screen career began. Hughes was an unbalanced man, emboldened by wealth and driven by jealous obsession. When Greer made it clear to him that she intended to have a life of her own he retaliated both emotionally and professionally. Their struggle was bitter and it hindered her career but she was eventually able to sever the ties.

Despite the road blocks that Hughes threw her way, Jane Greer managed to become an accomplished actress. The 1940s brought us some of Hollywood’s most powerful female screen characters and none is more riveting than the part she played as Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past (1947).  In this acclaimed film noir, Greer masterfully reveals the cold dark heart of her character while the audience remains mesmerized by her beguiling beauty and poised demeanor. Greer was a dedicated professional who understood the nuances of facial expression. RKO promoted her as “the woman with the Mona Lisa smile.”

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat Out of the Past (1947)

Jane Greer as Kathie Moffat- Out of the Past (1947)

Her Kathie was never over the top… a whisper of a smile as she worked her charms, soft beseeching eyes while she boldly lied and, most frightening of all, that cold glint of excitement just before she pulls the trigger. Pure genius! The camera loved her polished glamour. She had a drop dead figure that made everything she wore seem fit for a fashion magazine.  Edward Stevenson, Hollywood costume designer for films such as Citizen Cane, It’s a Wonderful Life and a favorite designer of Lucille Ball,  created Greer’s wardrobe for  Out of the Past and The Big Steal.

Her opening scene outfit for Out of the Past was elegant innocence… The cut of the dress skimmed the actresses form, modestly highlighting every curve.  It had a sweetheart decollete and youthful capped sleeves. She wore a matching portrait hat set back on the head. No hint of the lethal character to come. In The Big Steal (1949), Greer plays Joan Graham, a gutsy gal in pursuit of a thieving boyfriend. On the theater poster she wields a pistol, dressed in a bombshell halter gown which Stevenson designed to show off her pin up curves. Certainly not a dame to be messed with!

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer publcity photo-Out of the Past

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Jane Greer-The Big Steal (1949)

Greer is best known for her 1940s film characters. However her acting career, although not prolific, continued into the 90s. Outside of her profession she lead a full life. In 1942 she married Rudy Vallee but they divorced just one year later. In 1947 she married Edward Lasker. With him she had three sons. She found great joy in raising her children and later became dedicated to charity work. Time was kind to Ms. Greer, she remained a beauty all her days and will forever hold a place of honor in film noir.

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Birthday Tribute to Betty Grable-The Girl with the Million Dollar Legs

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The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs - Betty Grable

Betty Grable 12/18/16 – 07/02/73

 

“There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them.” Betty Grable

Elizabeth Ruth “Betty” Grable, born December 18, 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri, started off in showbiz at the urging of her stern ‘stage mom’ who was determined to have a daughter in the limelight. Her early work as a chorus girl no doubt helped to develop her trademark shapely legs. She worked her way up to being one of the top stars of her time and also one of the most famous pin-up girls in history.  Betty emerged as America’s sweetheart with a lead role in Down Argentine Way(1940) with Carmen Miranda. And she went on to appear in many other films,  including  Moon over Miami, Mother Wore Tights , Springtime in the Rockies, Four Jills and a Jeep, I Wake Up Screaming and How to Marry a Millionaire.

 Betty Grable’s iconic WWII pin-up photo

Most Famous Pin-up Photo - Betty Grable

Betty Grable’s iconic WWII pin-up photo.

And her iconic pin-up photo shot by Frank Polowny in 1943 became a favorite of WWII soldiers. LIFE magazine named this shot as one of the top 100 photographs that changed the world.  Not only was it a major morale booster for numerous servicemen in  WWII,  it was also the inspiration for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Magazine!  Her all-American girl next door good looks and sweet disposition helped Betty to become the highest paid celebrity from 1943 to 1951. (TIME Magazine)

Betty Grable, the famous legs and some fabulous 1940s shoes! Source Fanpix

Betty Grable-Legs-Shoes

Betty Grable and a lovely collection of 1940s shoes!

Betty in an amazing pink gown worn in Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
Source Johanna Ost blog

Betty Grable-Springtime in the Rockies

Betty Grable-Springtime in the Rockies

 

Betty Grable in a publicity shot for ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. 1953

Betty Grable publicity shot 1953

Betty Grable in a publicity shot for ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. 1953

Some lucky fellow applying cold cream to Betty Grable’s famous gams in LIFE Magazine. June 1943

 

Ms. Grable’s legs were insured for a million dollars by her studio.

Betty Grable famous legs LIFE Magazine

Gentleman  applying cold cream to Betty Grable’s famous legs  in LIFE Magazine. June 1943


 Her classic, girl next door, pin-up style still inspires vintage loving gals the world over till this day. Red lips, her fabulous hairstyles with their victory rolls and swirling updos, sassy poses and legs for miles! Today, on her birthday,  we remember the original pin-up queen – Betty Grable.

Do you have a favorite Betty Grable movie?

 

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1948 Coty Holiday Gift Ad Featuring Glamorous Traina Norell Evening Gown

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Coty, famous worldwide cosmetics manufacturer, was founded in Paris in 1904 and is still in operation today. During the 1940s they established the Coty American Fashion Critics Award to help  promote and encourage American fashion designers. One of the first designers to receive this prestigious award was Norman Norell, the designing half of the Traina Norell clothing label.

I discovered this festive holiday Coty Cosmetics ad from 1948, featuring a most glamorous and elegant red evening gown design by the talented Mr Norell. The ad, titled So Very Christmas,  showcases Coty gift sets, which include perfume and makeup ensembles in the classic fragrances  of Paris, Emeraude, L’Origan and L’Aimant.   I love the vintage packaging, especially the little carillon bells housing three different bottles of perfume. Adorable!  And the gown, well heck, who wouldn’t love to have something like that to wear for a grand holiday party?

 

coty ad traina norell dress dec 1948

1948 Coty Christmas Ad featuring glamorous Traina Norell red evening gown

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1940’s Shoe Styles- Peep Toes, Ankle Straps and Platforms, Oh My!

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One of my favorite eras for shoes is the 1940s.  And out of all the shoe styles in the 40’s I really love  peep toe platform heels, a style that is,  fortunately,  still popular  till this day.  Though that sexy  peep toe,  slingback platform sandal that one thinks of as an  iconic 40’s look   really started in the  1930s.  Back in the late 30s because stockings had reinforced toes and heels, many thought this shoe style would never last because it looked unsightly with the stockings. And going barelegged back then, except at the beach, was considered improper.  But women loved this new look, so eventually stocking manufacturers designed sheer hose to work with this new more open style of shoe.  As far as platforms, they really gained in popularity in the mid 40s when Carmen Miranda made them famous as part of her flamboyant signature look.

Here’s an ad for fabulous platform shoes with cutout detail and what is described as “ankle fascination”!  Came in gray, blue, brown, black and white suede for 26.95 a pair. I would have wanted every color!

Moonlight Mood 1947 platform shoes

Moonlight Mood 1947 platform shoes

And how about a pair of red cobra skin heels with a matching bag?  1947 Ad for WalkOver shoes from the George Keith co , a maker of high quality shoes in Brockton Mass.

Red cobra platform shoes 1947

Red cobra platform shoes 1947

1947 Ad for Lattice shoes “cut out to be smart”!  Pannettes by the Avon Shoe co., New York City

1947 pannettes platform sandals

Lattice high heel platform sandals-1947 ad

And you could order these beauties by mail in red, green, brown and black.  Oooo, I would so love to have  a green pair.  1948 “High Spirits” shoes. Love the name!

Cute little matching bag too.

1948 ad High Spirits by Mary Jane Shoes in faux alligator

1948 ad High Spirits by Mary Jane Shoes in faux alligator

Genuine 1940s peep toe  platform shoes are getting harder to come by. But I was lucky to acquire a couple of lovely pairs that were just listed on the site.

Click on images for more information.

1940s red leather peep toe platform sandals

1940s red leather peep toe platform sandals

1940s black satin dressy  peep toe platform heels

1940s black satin dressy peep toe platform heels

 

 

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Peplum Trend-Now and Then

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The definition of a peplum from the Oxford dictionary-“a short gathered or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman’s jacket, dress, or blouse to create a hanging frill or flounce” .   The description really doesn’t do it justice though because there are  a myriad of  configurations of this flirty style element.  And they all  take a garment to a whole new level of  femininity.   As evidenced by the spring and fall 2012 collections, many designers are resurrecting the peplum, which was very much in vogue back in the 1940s.   Of course I think this is actually one of those classic looks  that never really goes out of style.  It really flatters many figures by emphasizing the hourglass silhouette.

NOW -Here are some current looks from the runways.

Top left to right- Jason Wu, next two Alexander McQueen spring 2012
Bottom left to right- Zac Posen, next two Lanvin fall 2012

peplum 2012 designer collections

Peplum Trend in the 2012 designer collections

 THEN- And here are  what peplum fashions looked like  back in the 1940s

peplum dress  lucien lelong 47 vogue

Vogue 1947 Peplum dress by Lucien Lelong

Mollie Parnis peplum dress Vogue 1947

Mollie Parnis peplum dress Vogue 1947

peplum jacket Paris Collections 1946

1943 Peplum Jacket- Fashion illustration of Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vramant designs.

paris couture collections la femme chic 1942

1942 Fashion illustration of peplum dresses from the Paris couture collections

And here are a couple of  cute peplum blouses we recently added to the website.   Pair with a pencil skirt for a fabulous femme fatale 40s look!

Black polka dot peplum top

Black polka dot peplum top with sash

Blue chiffon wrap style peplum top

Blue chiffon wrap style peplum top

What do you think? Is the peplum look for you?

 

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