Posts tagged ‘Lucille Ball in fur’

2011/05/15

FurGlamor’s Top 12 Actresses

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.

Greta Garbo

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.

Greta Garbo - Inspiration - 1931

Greta Garbo - Inspiration - 1931

Notable Fur Films: Inspiration

Marlene Dietrich

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.

FurGlamor- Marlene Dietrich - Shanghai-Express - 1932

Marlene Dietrich - Shanghai-Express - 1932

Notable Fur Films: Shanghai Express, Pittsburgh, The Scarlet Empress (lots of fur, but way too “period” for my tastes.)

Barbara Stanwyck

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.

FurGlamor - Barbara Stanwyck - The Mad Miss Manton - 1938

Barbara Stanwyck - The Mad Miss Manton - 1938

Notable Fur Films: Breakfast for Two, Baby Face, Lady of Burlesque, The Mad Miss Manton

Joan Crawford

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.

FurGalmor - Joan Crawford - The Bride Wore Red - 1937

Joan Crawford - The Bride Wore Red - 1937

Notable Fur Films: Mannequin (1937), The Bride Wore Red, They All Kissed the Bride, Ice Follies of 1939

Ann-Margret

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.

Ann-Margret - Once A Thief - 1965

Ann-Margret - Once A Thief - 1965

Notable Fur Films: The Swinger, Once A Thief (maybe)

Natalie Wood

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.

FurGlamor - Natalie Wood - The Great Race - 1965

Natalie Wood - The Great Race - 1965

Notable Fur Films: The Great Race

Sophia Loren

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.

FurGlamor - Sophia Loren - The Millionairess - 1960

Sophia Loren - The Millionairess - 1960

Notable Fur Films: The Millionairess

Morgan Fairchild

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.

FurGlamor - Morgan Fairchild - Paper Dolls - 1984

Morgan Fairchild - Paper Dolls - 1984

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.

Anna May Wong - Piccadilly - 1929

Anna May Wong - Piccadilly - 1929

Notable Fur Films: Piccadilly

Hedy Lamarr

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.

Hedy Lamarr in White Fox Fur. 1938

Hedy Lamarr in White Fox Fur. 1938

Notable Fur Films: I Take this Woman

Joan Collins

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.

Joan Collins - The Man Who Came to Dinner - 1972

Joan Collins - The Man Who Came to Dinner - 1972

Notable Fur Films and TV: The Bitch, Dynasty

Lucille Ball

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.

FurGlamor - Lucille Ball - Dance Girl Dance - 1940

Lucille Ball - Dance Girl Dance - 1940

Notable Fur Films: Annabel films, Dance, Girl, Dance, Easy to Wed

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.

2011/04/03

Lucille Ball in White Fox

Imagine my surprise when I discovered one of the single best images of 30’s fur fashion did not appear to be on Flickr. I’ve looked around for this iconic image of Lucille Ball a few times, but not until this weekend did it appear. At least, I think. Again, as I mentioned last week, some work with tagging on Flickr would be nice, but at this point, who cares. Just enjoy…

Lucille Ball

Just… wow.

2010/08/29

Furs on Film – Dance, Girl, Dance

Finally, a full on, legit single film update post. Been a while, TCM, thanks for finally ponying up a good one. This one fits into a few of my favorite categories. Foremost, it’s another entry from 1940 where the costume director didn’t get the memo about that highly unfortunate sea change in fashion. It is also another entry in the “I Love 30’s and 40’s Film Star Lucille Ball” category. Too bad her career fizzled and she never got into television… Finally, yes, there’s a divorce. Though it’s only a subplot in this one.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Film

A story of rags to burlesque to ballet riches about dancer Judy (Maureen O’Hara) and her friend / rival / friend again Tiger Lily nee Bubbles, played by Miss Ball. Both end up competing for the affections of the same man, rich guy Jimmy, whose soon to be ex- wife we will be seeing shortly. After Judy’s dreams of becoming a ballerina take a detour through Bubbles’ burlesque show as a “stooge”, their relationship strains a bit, leading to fisticuffs and an appearance in night court (not the one with capital letters, John Larroquette, and a pretty decent selection of 80’s foxes in the early seasons). Oh, and Jimmy ends up with Judy, because… it’s a lighthearted comedy from 1940.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Furs

Bubbles rise from bit chorus girl to Tiger Lilly the burlesque queen is documented with her furs, and fortunately the focus is heavily on the latter end of that dramatic arc. Miss Ball doesn’t support the film alone. As alluded to earlier, Judy’s love interest is rich and divorcing. His ex- wife has a lot of furs to keep her warm. If you’re a fan of the lead, Maureen O’Hara, and hoping she’s in fur, I’ll just disappoint you up front.

Bubble’s may be a poor bit player, but in those days, poor bit players can afford a cruddy red fox stole with bits attached. In terms of costume contributing to the story, this outfit certainly suggests Bubbles hasn’t quite made it yet.

We switch to Jimmy and his pre- divorce wife Elinor, played by Virginia Field, coming home in this full silver fox fur wrap. She’s certainly made excellent use of her husband’s money.

Bubbles attends an audition in this white fox stole, again, with the extra parts attached. Don’t worry, eventually she becomes wealthy enough to afford furs that are actually finished.

There is a good, short close up where it doesn’t matter what leftovers are still hanging onto the stole.

Bubbles eventually makes it, becoming Tiger Lilly, but starting off slow with a fairly conservative set of silver fox cuffs. Sadly for much of this sequence she’s also accessorizing with a small dog as well. It’s here she “propositions” Judy with an offer to perform ballet at the burlesque show.

Judy’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, accepts and performs ballet for the burlesque crowd, to their great dismay. All part of the act, the recently minted Tiger Lilly appears to save the show and put on a little more “suitable” entertainment. She appears thusly:

Hey, I’d cheer for that. Miss Ball performs most of the act wearing this white fox beauty, the show piece of the entire film and a fur that is documented as richly as it deserves to be.

I’ve included a lot of shots from the act in the gallery. It’s a rather entertaining bit where she slides effortlessly between a “society” accent and something a bit more common.

Trying to keep up, Elinor breaks out the big lynx fur collar. Sadly, it’s to serve the divorce papers to Jimmy.

Another well filmed fur, with quite a few close-ups that let us enjoy Virginia Field’s face framed by the high, fluffy lynx.

Tiger Lilly is back, competing collar v collar, with this fox trimmed coat. This collar displays one of the most important aspects of a good collar: beyond shoulder coverage. For the record, the best collars have trouble fitting through doorways.

Another well filmed fur for this film to add to the total.

There are brief wide shots where you can see it’s not just the collar but some trim at the bottom as well. Yes, it seems the cuffs are notably absent, so have to dock some points for that.

Finally, and fittingly, the white fox makes a return engagement as the ladies are hauled into court after a bit of an altercation. We see here that Bubbles seems to have taken the greater amount of punishment.

Some nice shots of the back are included here as well. Obviously the ideal would be to add the last collar to this coat… lengthen it with a four foot train, add some elbow length cuffs, some additional fringe, turn the collar into a hood… Whoops, train of thought kind of ran away there for a moment…

But wait, there’s more! Elinor shows up to the trial sporting a silver fox fur muff. I like the entire outfit here, the pinstripe suit and hat mix well with the muff.

Both together, you say? Sure!

Even better than that last one? Sure!

Wow, this one works on a number of levels. It’s got a great marquee fur supported with a deep selection of additional pieces, all of which are well filmed. The furs that aren’t well filmed, particularly the few early pieces worn by Bubbles, don’t really deserve it anyway. Miss Ball is lovely as ever in this period, still likeable despite playing what amounts to the villainess of the piece. Granted, comparing Bubbles to Judy’s rather pedestrian aspiring ballerina is probably not even fair. Finally at 13% it’s a solid ratio, most of it supported by the best fur in the film.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 90 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 13%

Full Gallery: Fur Fashions of the 1940 film Dance, Girl Dance.

2010/03/21

Furs on Film – Easy to Wed

TCM finally showed Easy to Wed again, so I can do my “remake comparison post”. The idea of remaking things as musicals didn’t start in the 50’s. No that trend started a while back, and Easy to Wed is one of the examples from the 40’s. What film was it? Well, something long time readers will be familiar with: Libeled Lady.

Easy to Wed – The Film

Easy to Wed is pretty much the exact same story as Libeled Lady, though there’s some people singing since it’s now a musical, and, since Esther Williams is involved, an additional swimming poll or two. I suppose MGM had a crack team of specialist screenwriters completely devoted to figuring out ways to put Esther Williams in water. The only differences here are the people playing the roles as even the character names are the same.

Easy to Wed – The Furs

So we have a “Tale of Two Gladys-es”, the first the screen legend Jean Harlow, the second Lucille Ball, who in this film occupies the space between her film and television careers. It seems the people who remade the film felt the need to preserve some, though sadly not all, of the original’s costume direction.

As Gladys and Bill Chandler (Van Johnson) get their sham marriage, she starts things off with this white fox hat. An appetizer, at best, but not unworthy of notice.

Now, in terms of how this film differs from the original, the producers saw fit to present the dinner scene from the original without Esther Williams in a huge white fox cape as Myrna Loy’s Connie Allenbury wore. This was easily the best fur from Libeled Lady, and I’ll throw it up here just to remind everyone.

Gladys on the phone. In Libeled Lady we had righty Jean Harlow in chinchilla:

Easy to Wed provides us Lucille Ball as a lefty in ermine. Advantage Libeled Lady.

While Connie didn’t wear a huge white fox cape to dinner, she does get married in this mink:

Finally we have the core of both films, the furs worn by the 2 Gladys-es during the film’s comedic climaxes. Libeled Lady provided this fox trimmed beauty with an enormous collar.

Easy to Wed puts Lucy’s Gladys in a fox wrap of some, not-unworthy size. I’m still giving it to Libeled Lady, though.

The end of both films is virtually identical, where Gladys confronts Connie and Bill with the true status of their marriage, runs to the bedroom, and exits when Bill and Warren (Keenan Wynn) have a brief altercation. Both fade to credits with a 5 way argument, though Easy To Wed adds a mariachi band to the mix. Here’s Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow in the bedroom.

And Here’s Lucille Ball and Esther Williams in the bedroom.

On its own Easy To Wed isn’t a bad fur film. The last part with Lucille Ball in the fox wrap is quite nice. It suffers for the inevitable comparisons to Libeled Lady, though. It should be noted that Gladys is a kind of proto-Lucy (Ricardo), something that some may find a plus, but, simply put, I do not. To be fair, she was the same character when Jean Harlow played her, it’s simply that Harlow didn’t end up playing the same character for the rest of her career.

Fur Runtime: approx 10 minutes
Film Runtime: 106 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 9%

The full gallery is here: Fur Fashions of the 1946 film Easy To Wed.

2009/12/20

Furs on Film – The Annabel Films

At the risk of exposing an opinion that may be slightly outside the “mainstream”… I do not, in fact, love Lucy. I do love Annabel, though, who is played by a twenty-seven year old Lucille Ball during her time as a film star prior to an admittedly pioneering gig on one of television’s most memorable shows. While television Lucy is certainly the most recognizable, Miss Ball made a number of pictures during the 30’s and 40’s… after 1935 she was even credited for her roles. These films reveal Miss Ball to be a stunningly beautiful young woman with a knack for more than just comedy.

Annabel – The Films

Comedy was certainly the center piece of the Annabel films, 2 of the 6 (s… i… x…) films in which Lucille Ball played in 1938. She stars as Annabel Allison, another in a long line of lovely alliterative names common during the period. Annabel is a fading star at Wonder Pictures, and her publicist, Lanny Morgan (Jack Oakie), is doing everything he can to put her back on top, with predictably comedic results. In The Affairs of Annabel, he convinces her to pose as a maid and she ends up in the middle of a kidnapping plot. Annabel Takes a Tour sees our heroine embroiled in a an affair cooked up by her publicist that she believes is real.

Annabel – The Furs

Let’s see, both of these films were from 1938 and featured a Hollywood star, a waning one, but a star nonetheless. That means big fox furs for the lead, and they look amazing on the youthful Miss Ball in both films.

The Affairs of Annabel – 1938

There’s a reason I combined both these films, and that reason is The Affairs of Annabel. There’s only one memorable fur in the film, it occurs at the very end as Annabel and her publicist are ready to “live happily ever after”, to so speak. She’s wearing 2 of those fox stoles I have such a love-hate relationship with.

They make for lovely closeups, though.

This is about 10 seconds before the credits roll, if you’re wondering how long you’ll need to wait to see it.

Annabel Takes a Tour – 1938

In the follow-on about Annabel having an actual “affair”, she wears a much nicer selection of furs. To start we don’t see Annabel in fur, though, we bookend a bit with Frances Mercer in one of the same fox stoles as Annabel wore to close out The Affairs of Annabel.

Now we arrive at the core fur of the film, Annabel’s silver fox trimmed dress and matching silver fox fur muff.

The sequence is early in the film, where meets with her publicist about Frances Mercer’s character’s higher popularity. It’s a long sequence and this outfit is well filmed throughout.

I’ve no doubt mentioned my affinity for big collars in the past, this one certainly qualifies and looks spectacular in all closeups.

One more, another favorite moment at the very end of the sequence as Annabel’s thoughts turn to her rising popularity and her silver fox muff rises to her chin.

Finally, near the end of the film, Annabel arrives in this stroller length lynx coat, another beautiful fur Miss Ball wears well.

Again, there was no shortage of closeups that allow us a moment to drink her in while framed with this thick lynx fur coat.

Were I to complain, it would be about the lack of collar or cuffs, but that complaint would be rather hollow, I admit, this is a beautiful coat.

If your only exposure to Lucille Ball is as a shrill, demanding 50’s housewife, then you’re missing out on a much more beautiful and accessible actress from these early films. She wore furs in quite a few of the films from this period… granted, “this period” being the late 1930’s kind of makes that statement somewhat redundant. These films showcase a vibrant actress with deft comedic skill that wasn’t quite watered down to a single note as it would be later.

The Affairs of Annabel

Fur Runtime: approx 2 minutes
Film Runtime: 68 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 3%

Annabel Takes a Tour

Fur Runtime: approx 6 minutes
Film Runtime: 67 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 11%

Full Gallery- Fur Fashions of The Annabel Films