There was a shorter, more obvious title for this, but I went the more verbose version to spare everyone the indignity. This is a beautiful publicity shot from 1942’s Lady of Burlesque, featuring that most lovely and rather appropriately sized white fox muff. And the bird… that… bird. I can verify that Photoshop CS5’s content aware fill and patch tools do make short work of it, at least.
Large fox hats are difficult to find, so surprising this one reports in from 1968. It sits rather perfectly upon the head of Swedish actress Anita Ekberg. The Flickr description says it’s from a postcard, though the postcard could be from a film. Feel free to weigh in via the comments if that’s the case. The pose seems rather “theatrical,” so to speak.
Comments on the last post got me to thinking a little harder about my favorites, so I decided to try and get them down, all official-like. So here is my entirely subjective personal opinion on the top 12 fur wearing actresses of the last 80 or so years (mostly minus the last 20 since they… sucked). If you’re thinking I started with 10 then remembered some more, then you’re absolutely correct. After I post this, I’ll probably remember a lot more.
This list technically covers fur wearers only, but Garbo is also on top of my all time most-attractive list, with or without fur. It’s the face, really. That face is the greatest ever, and for once I’m not alone in having that opinion. Actually, all of these women share that quality, the face is what I first “fall” for, Garbo just does it best.
Notable Fur Films: Inspiration
I really went controversial with the top 2, picking two of the most highly regarded women in the world. Dietrich has the face and the furs to frame it with, and certainly a sultry voice to back up the entire package.
Notable Fur Films: Shanghai Express, Pittsburgh, The Scarlet Empress (lots of fur, but way too “period” for my tastes.)
Her films from the 30’s are the source of some of the best furs filmed, and she certainly backed them up with beautiful features and masterful performances. If there’s going to be a “tough broad” in the picture, than Barbara is the one for the job.
As usual, the sad, wish-it-weren’t-needed, caveat of “early” Joan. Her youth and beauty in the 30’s and early 40’s was exquisite. We can just conveniently overlook what happened later.
That face and that wonderful red hair, a beautiful combination. Red is my favorite hair color, and I generally like it like I like my fox fur coats: lacking any shred of subtly. Ann’s fame put her in some of the “lean” years of fur fashion, but she managed to find her way into some stunning fox coats from time to time, like this one in Once A Thief, a film I’ve not yet seen.
Notable Fur Films: The Swinger, Once A Thief (maybe)
Broken record at this point, but I said what I liked at the top and Natalie Wood is, in fact, another pretty face. I could even imply something stereotypical like: Miss Zakharenko’s Russian heritage makes her natural in fur. Much like Ann, she experienced super stardom in the 50’s and 60’s, which makes it more difficult to find her in great furs.
Notable Fur Films: The Great Race
I don’t think Italian heritage can make for any dumb statements about how well you wear fur, but it certainly didn’t hurt Miss Loren’s lovely features. Her most productive years were similar to Natalie’s and Ann’s, so finding Sophia in exceptional furs is a little tricky, but there are a few gems.
Notable Fur Films: The Millionairess
Ah, the 1980’s report in at last. Miss Fairchild embodied the 80’s blonde in big furs, and she did so with the utmost glamor and class. If there was an 80’s mega fox coat in the picture, she probably wearing it. After saying that, here’s a shot of her in lynx.
Notable Fur Films and TV: Paper Dolls, Any other 80’s soap she was ever on, most likely
Anna May Wong
Absolutely gorgeous in fur, though sadly not afforded nearly as many opportunities to wear it as her contemporaries. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and fix that. If nothing else, that suggests I have really bad priorities.
Notable Fur Films: Piccadilly
Hedy’s lovely features are framed by my second favorite hair color: black. Not dark brown, or really dark brown, or even so-dark-brown-it’s-almost black; no: black. This kind of black is a gleaming obsidian set off so nicely by a thick, white fox. There’s some good films with Hedy in fur, but they’re harder to find for some reason.
Notable Fur Films: I Take this Woman
This may be a controversial choice only because she’s so low on the list. If it makes any ardent Joan fans feel any better, this is like the top 10 of all actresses ever, so, percentile wise, this is still huge. Joan is actually here more for the 70’s than the 80’s, since Morgan covers that. She pretty much nails it in The Bitch. I know, date-wise that’s almost a technicality, but it’s still the 70’s.
Notable Fur Films and TV: The Bitch, Dynasty
The downside is strong, but much like ignoring what happened later with Miss Crawford, assuming Miss Ball’s career ended in the mid 40’s means she’s one of the fur wearing greats in film. Back when she was young and doing films, she was quite the classic beauty, and commonly draped in beautiful furs.
That wraps up my current top 12, at least until I remember more. Feel free to try and help me out in the comments. Or suggest that I’m wrong, and also a doo-doo head; you can do that too.
Bonus points for throwing out names of any actress from the last 20 years. I should point out you’ll need to do better than one or two furs, and, if you’ve been reading for any amount of time, you should know I’m not going to look kindly on any suggestion that includes mink. There are a number of modern actresses I’d like to put on the list, but they can’t make the grade fur-wise.
While Claudette Colbert is not a particular favorite of mine from the period (she’s not even my favorite Colbert), she does look rather nice in this exemplary white fox fur cape from 1935. I haven’t seen The Gilded Lily, but it is going on the “remember to record” list, that’s for sure. Sadly I don’t even remember ever seeing it in TCM’s listings lo these many years, so my hopes aren’t particularly very high in that regard. I’ll be happy enough if they get back to showing Mannequin (the 1937 version with more and better fur), Breakfast for Two, and Pittsburgh. Oh, and the cinematic tour de force that is Ice Follies of 1939.
Well, I was going to post this last week, but it kind of sucks to roll out of bed and suddenly discover the workflow you’ve used for three years now suddenly fails. Ah, codec drama! I have no idea what screwed it up, and the prospect of figuring it out is daunting, so I did a lazy workaround that involves moving mountains of data on an external hard drive, and… What, you don’t care? Right, right…
Then how ’bout one of the single biggest fox collars committed to the screen?
Rockabye – The Film
This early 30’s Constance Bennett flick, she plays Judy Carroll, a Broadway actress who testifies for her former boyfriend, an embezzler. While I’m not sure about the particular legal statute involved here (probably because they made it up), doing so ends up costing her custody of an orphan she had planed to adopt. She drowns her sorrows with a trip to Europe with, (le sigh) her old, rotund, alcoholic mother, and meets a playwright with an eerily autobiographical play called, wait for it: Rockabye. Judy theoretically falls in love with him and wants to take the play back to Broadway, but, in a twist that may not have been quite so cliché in 1932, ends up with her loving manager instead.
Rockabye – The Furs
As famous Broadway actress Judy Caroll, Constance Bennett does most of the fur wearing, and almost all of the fur wearing you’d particularly want to see. For the sake of accuracy, if not the level of bile in my stomach, I should mention Judy’s mother also wears fur. She’s played Jobyna Howland, a woman every bit as young, thin, and attractive as Marie Dressler. Okay, that’s a little unfair to Jobyna, she’s maybe 2% more attractive.
How do you get your dirty, embezzling, ex-boyfriend acquitted? You go to court and testify in this:
He’d be in the clear if I was on the jury.
Anyone who dated a woman with this kind of fashion sense is a-okay in my book.
Not sure how else to put this, but: I really, really like this collar.
I realize this isn’t exactly the insightful level of commentary you’ve come to expect from me, but, honestly, I’m a little distracted.
Now, the collar is pretty much grade-A, but let’s not forget what’s been in her lap the whole time. As she leaves the stand, she helpfully hefts that big barrel muff so we get good look at it.
The cherry on top of this is that not only is the quality amazing, but it’s not merely a fleeting glance. The courtroom sequence provides over 3 minutes of footage alone.
It’s followed by about 2 more, most with this shot as she’s riding home from the courtroom. Now, if I were to find fault with any of this, it’s that she spends the entire time in the backseat doing absolutely nothing with that cigarette holder in her hand.
She returns home where we meet her soon to be ex-orphan for a little heart-string tugging. This shot illustrates a point I made in an earlier update. The better the collar, the less of the head you can see from the back (or the side, for that matter).
There’s other fur in the film? Oh, right, yes, there is. Not that I think it matters at this point. There’s this probably mink item that I’ll call a wrap since “bib,” while seemingly more accurate, doesn’t sound all that fashionable.
For a film that starts out so spectacularly, it briefly descends into the depths of mediocrity with Constance Bennett in this most basic of full length mink coats. This fur is given all the screen time it deserves, which is: not much at all.
Finally, in what would have been a fur with a pretty decent collar in any other film but just ends up being an afterthought here, we see Virginia Hammond in this silver fox trimmed wrap.
It is a very nice, full-body trim, one that I might ordinarily lavish a bit more attention upon, but, really, you can just scroll up and call it even.
While the full Fur Ratio is 19%, and that’s pretty darn impressive, the only fur that really matters is actually on screen for a total of five and a half minutes. That makes the “Awesome Fur Ratio” about 6%, but that’s still not shabby. That five and a half minutes is filled with closeups that lavish the appropriate amount of attention on Constance and that amazing outfit.
Fur Runtime: approx 14 minutes
Film Runtime: 75 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 19%
Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1932 film Rockabye