Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Stepford Wives Then and Now

I received a press release the other day about some of the new words added to the dictionary (Noah Webster must be rolling over in his grave) and for some reason I wondered if the term Stepford Wives was already included.

The Urban Dictionary describes the term as 1.).. servile, compliant, submissive, spineless wife who happily does her husband's bidding and serves his every whim dutifully. 2). ...a wife who is a cookie cutter  and bland in appearance and behavior. Subscribes to a popular look and dares not deviate...
I feel relatively certain I could fill Yankee Stadium with the many I have met in the past.

Barbie never looked this perfect

The actual term comes from Ira Levin's chilling novel of the same name based on a fictional town known as Stepford, Connecticut where the men replaced their wives as Barbie Doll robots, serving their every whim and absent of any thought in their pretty heads. It was later turned into an equally chilling film starring Katherine Ross in l975 (a role which almost went to Diane Keaton) and a not so wonderful yet star-studded remake in 2004 with Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close and Christopher Walken.

Walken and Close in the remake....

Patrick O'Neal and Nanette Newman in the original

Katherine Ross and a Clairol Three Way Lighted Makeup Mirror -- an innovation in the seventies

While remakes seldom top the original, the interiors designed by Jack De Govia and Debra Schutt of the well ordered and well appointed Connecticut house were pitch perfect. (Schutt also recreated a different kind of antiseptic suburbia in Revolutionary Road as well as the tony Upper East Side penthouse in A Perfect Murder). Many of the scenes were shot in Darien, New Canaan and Norwalk as well as New York City.

The designers opted for a Martha Stewart/Architectural Digest world of perfection. "People in Stepford are living at the height of stylish luxury and they make no apologies for their lifestyle," notes De Govia. "No one questions whether they deserve the opulence. They simply have it and intend to take full advantage of it."

Interiors were shot at Kaufman Studios. Schutt used high end appliances and furnishings for the kitchen and great room above. Florist Christopher Barrett was brought in for the arrangements as seen below.

If you haven't seen it already, be sure to check out the original first! Better still, read the book. You can find it here on Amazon.

Photo credits: Paramount Pictures


  1. this post is so interesting- I actually like the 94 version because the concept itself is so strange-it basically makes a not so great plot bearable- I'm definitey going to watch the original now! Love you blog!!

  2. There are a ton of movies out there where the fashions, clothes, setting etc make it bearable!

  3. the actress identified as Barbara Rucker in the original-----is in fact, Nanette Newman, who was the wife of the director of the film. She appeared in many of his films, most memorably in THE WRONG BOX. It took a long time for this mistake to be noticed. This web-site needs a good editor.