Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ode to the Dolls

It is hard to believe that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the cult classic book-turned-film Valley of the Dolls. Baby boomers may recall reading under the covers away from parental eyes as it was quite controversial at the time -- today you would hardly bat an eye. The film has a cult following today with so many classic laugh-out-loud (some intentional, some not) scenes and lines -- Neely O'Hara flushing Helen Lawson's wig down the toilet, Lawson singing "My Tree" and "The only hit that comes out of a Helen Lawson show is Helen Lawson, and that's ME, baby, remember?"

Valley of The Dolls was written by the late Jacqueline Susann, queen of the steamy blockbuster long before Jackie Collins (30 million copies sold to date). The roman a' clef tells the story of three young career women -- singer Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke), actress Jennifer North (Sharon Tate) and talent agency assistant turned model Ann Welles (Barbara Parkins). The three use "dolls" a.k.a. barbiturates/downers to cope with their various soap opera maladies (breast cancer, gay husbands, etc.) and you get the picture.  Veteran actress Susan Hayward plays aging singer Helen Lawson and it's rumored that the role was patterned after Judy Garland and Ethel Merman. (Ironically Garland was originally cast but let go). Candice Bergen, Petula Clark, Raquel Welch and Ann-Margaret were up for the roles of the three girls.

Patty Duke

Sharon Tate

Barbara Parkins

Author Jacqueline Susann

Susann with cast members (Lee Grant in sunglasses)

"Here kitty kitty"

Susan Hayward singing "My Tree"

Patty Duke romps on classic Sixties style brass bed

The movie is pure camp with some wonderful style moments (Pucci patterned jumpsuits and big hair just to name a few) and a great window into sixties Manhattan and Los Angeles. The title song by Dionne Warwick became a huge hit as well. The film was also ranked as one of the 100 Most Amusingly Bad Films Ever Made by the infamous Razzie awards so you know it has to be fun viewing (many rank it alongside 1995's Showgirls). Perhaps actress Lee Grant (who plays Tate's sister in law) said it best that the drama was "The best and funniest worst movie ever made!"

The Soundtrack

If you are in the Savannah area, SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) is hosting a panel on "Jacqueline Susann and the Style of the 1960s: The 45th Anniversary of The Valley of The Dolls" on April 29th at 4:00 p.m. with fashion designer Lisa Perry, Decades vintage boutique owner Cameron Silver, literary agent Ira Silverburg and Lisa Bishop  and Whitney Robinson, directors of the Susann archives. The topic will be the book and its impact on fashion. There is also an exhibit of her personal archives and period garments at Savannah's Pinnacle Gallery.

Nobody does sixties style better than Lisa Perry

Happy Easter!

Photos: Life Magazine, Twentieth Century Fox, Lisa Perry

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Style of Jolie

As if a full acting career, six children, philanthropic work (UN Goodwill ambassador) and partner of Brad Pitt was not enough, the Academy Award winning actress has added jewelry designer to her already full plate.

Designed in collaboration with jeweller Robert Procop, The Style of Jolie collection features semi-precious and precious stones from citrine and white quartz to diamonds and emeralds designed to"capture and enhance the eyes." The collection was auctioned and sold to lucky buyers and proceeds went to the Education Partnership for Children in Conflict and will no doubt be seen on future red carpets to come. But you won't see them on QVC.

Pear shaped earrings as seen on Jolie at The Tourist film premiere

103 carats set in yellow gold for the Exceptional Emerald necklace
Five row citrine tablet bracelet

Emerald beryl pendant necklace

Vintage choker as seen in The Tourist

 A special thanks to Patt Morrison for her segment with me on Designs on Film. You can hear The Patt Morrison show on LA's NPR station here.  Also thanks to Italian Vogue for their feature on Designs on Film in the April issue. Now if I can just find a translator....

Photo Credits: AFP/Getty Images, Splash, Vogue