Hollywood wardrobes topic of program at recent Mathontes Club meeting


LaNelle Roberts was resplendent in green sequins as she modeled a copy of the “curtain dress,” designed by Bob Mackie for a skit on “The Carol Burnett Show,” at the recent meeting of the Mathontes Club at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

Roberts’ copy and the original dress were complete with a curtain rod across the shoulders. One of Mackie’s best-remembered creations, it was worn by Carol Burnett for the “Gone With the Wind” parody skit, “Went With the Wind,” on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

During the meeting, Roberts and Sharon Wyatt presented a program on “Wardrobe,” a continuation of the club’s yearlong study of “Hooray for Hollywood.”

Mackie was the costume designer for Burnett for the 11 years of her show. He was discovered by Edith Head while working as a novice designer at Paramount Studios. He won nine Emmy awards and has been nominated three times for Academy Awards for costume design.

Wyatt centered her presentation on Head. She wore a black wig with bangs and, black round-framed glasses, trademarks of the well-known American costume designer. Head won eight Academy Awards for Costume Design, holding the record in this category. She has also won more Academy Awards than any other women. She won her first in 1950 for “The Heiress” and the last in 1974 for “The Sting,” Between 1948 and 1966, she was nominated for 35 Academy Awards, winning eight times, receiving more Oscars than any other woman.

She gained notability for Dorothy Lamour’s trademark sarong dress and became a household name after the Academy Awards created a new category for Costume Designer in 1948. She was considered exceptional for her close working relationship with her female stars, which included virtually every top female star in Hollywood.

With no art, design and costume design experience, she was hired as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures in the costume department in 1924. She designed for silent films and by 1930 she was established as one of Hollywood’s leading costume designers. She was at Paramount for 43 years. She went to Universal Pictures on March 27, 1967, possibly prompted by her extensive work for director Alfred Hitchcock, who had moved to Universal in 1960.

In the late 1970s, she was asked to design a women’s uniform for the United States Coast Guard. She called this assignment a highlight in her career and received the meritorious Public Service Award for her efforts. As the number of studio-based films declined and many of her favorite stars retired, she became more active in TV costume design.

Her last movie was a black-and-white comedy, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” starring Steve Martin and Carl Reiner. For it she recreated fashions of the 1940s. It was released shortly after her death and dedicated to her memory.

The Academy Awards for Best Costume Design in two subcategories — black and white and color — were first given at the 21st Academy Awards on March 24, 1949, Roberts said.

At the 30th Academy Awards on March 26, 1958, the two subcategories were merged. At the 32nd Academy Awards, the two subcategories – black and white and color – were reestablished. Eight years later, they were combined permanently.

From 1949 to 1966, most award given for black and white went to contemporary files. Color award winners were dominated by epics, fantasies, and musicals. Since the merger in 1967, only two contemporary movies have won.

During the business session, presided over by Ginny Clement, vice president, Sue Smith, chairman of the nominating committee, gave the report.

Other members of the committee were Karen Johnson and Phoebe Spharler.

The slate of officers for 2014-16 is Clement, president; Sue Merritt, vice president; Linda Eubank, recording secretary; Mary McBee, corresponding secretary; Catherine Anne Atkinson, treasurer; and Kitty Rubenstein, parliamentarian.

Lyle Williams was welcomed as a guest.

The guests were seated at tables for eight. The central focus of each centerpiece was an arm bouquet of spring flowers. Each was surrounded by a variety of wardrobe items, accessories and costume drawings.

A dessert course was served by the hostesses, Spharler, Pauline Cherry, McBee and Sue Trulock.