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Furs in Film – The Dolly Sisters (1945)

FurGlamor Featured Image - The Dolly Sisters

Films show up here for two reasons, what I’ve come to call “1 Epic Fur” or “Fur Overload.” 1 Epic Fur is pretty obvious, that’s The Great Bank Hoax from last week, or the poster child of the entire “genre” The Awful Truth. Fur Overload is the Roberta’s of film, a bunch of good stuff all in one place. Sometimes there are crossovers, such as The Dolly Sisters, which is loaded with beautiful furs and anchored by something that would make it noteworthy if there weren’t another fur in the entire film.


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The Dolly Sisters

Genre: Musical
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC


The Dolly Sisters – The Film

The Dolly Sisters is a biopic of the real Dolly Sisters, identical twins famous for working in early film and on Broadway in the early 19th Century. Though the original sisters were identical twins (and brunettes), there wasn’t a spare Betty Grable laying around, so, in the film, the sisters aren’t quite so identical. June Haver fills in as the other sister, and she looks quite a bit like Betty, though no one will confuse the two. The film traces their rise from Hungarian emigrants to stardom, though the ending is happier than in reality, primarily for Jenny Dolly.

The Dolly Sisters – The Furs

This film is full of excellent fur fashion, though one particular piece does stand out above all the rest. Since it’s better to save it up for the end, so to speak, I’m going to run through the furs outside of the film’s chronological order. I’m also going to shamelessly add something that I know isn’t really fur but looks pretty good nonetheless. The Dolly Sisters is well stocked in terms of both the stars and supporting characters in lovey foxes and other furs.

We do open somewhat chronologically with the Sisters Dolly, Betty Grable, and June Haver, doing a little command performance set up by Uncle Latsie (S.Z. Sakall playing the “S.Z. Sakall role”). Yes, those are , not fur, but ultimately they’re meant to be evocative of fur, and they’re nice and big and pastel, so I’m including them.

This film is interesting because Betty Grable doesn’t show up in , something her costume designers saw fit to wrap her in many times over her film career (Moon Over Miami, Down Argentine Way, etc.). Gray fox does make an appearance in this reasonably short sequence.

As the Dolly sisters grow in prominence, they do some shows in Paris. These ladies appear as part of the opening to one of their stage performances. Not sure why they decided to divorce the cigarette holder from the stole.

The sisters, successful, return home in these heavily -trimmed coats. When the “trim” is the entire sleeve, that’s trim I can love. The oversized shawl collars are a perfect match.

This is Jenny Dolly’s love interest Harry Fox (John Payne), and her romantic rival in the story, Lenora Baldwin (Trudy Marshall), tastefully outfitted in a fox stole the likes of which probably wasn’t all that common for the period. Still, these are the kind of anachronisms I enjoy the most.

We’re going to skip to the film’s happy ending for a moment, where many Jenny and Harry reunite at the big show. Here’s the show’s MC, who’s got an excellent white fox collar going on there.

Lenora holds onto Harry, oblivious that she’s about to lose this little romantic entanglement. It’s hard to tell here, but she’s wearing a stole over her arm.

Better close up of the MC’s fox collar. No, can’t remember who this is, but she wears “giant white fox collar” well.

Close up of Trudy Marshall as Lenora, with the black fox stole on her shoulder.

Here’s the best shot of the stole and the collar together. The black fox stole has a full three tiers, very lovely and full, and makes for a nice juxtaposition to the oversized white fox collar.

And here we are, the reason The Dolly Sisters would be on this site if there weren’t another fur in the film. This coat is technically only “trim,” but this is my favorite kind… the kind where it is damn hard to tell it’s only trim.

Fortunately the director of photography was obviously no dummy and set up this shot just to show off this beauty in its entirety. As you can see, it is, in fact, an enormous set of white fox cuffs and a colossal fox collar, backed up by the trim along the sweep of the coat.

Closer now, the ¾ shot gives us the perfect view of the best part of this coat, the collar, and cuffs in all their silky white glory.

This part of the film chronicles an actual incident in Jenny Dolly’s life, a car accident in 1933. Perhaps the date explains the oversized white fox coat.

In the movie, Jenny loses control of the car, and she and this fantastic white fox coat careen over a cliff. In the film, she awakens later with a band-aid on her face.

In the film, Jenny Dolly recovers fully and reunites with her man at the show with the MC and her white fox collar shown earlier above. The Dolly Sisters is a musical from 1945, so happy endings were mandatory. The reality was that after the wreck and the subsequent set of surgeries (not just a band-aid), the real Jenny Dolly hung herself in her hotel room in 1941. Yeah, that would have been a bit of a downer ending for a big-budget musical, so they played around a little with the facts. Historical inaccuracies aside, the film provides an excellent showcase for fur fashion, and the massive white fox trimmed coat from Jenny’s accident is one of the best you’ll find anywhere.

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