Sunday, December 29, 2013

Photo Updates

Child prodigy - Larger images of his work at Woodbury.

Dona Drake - Various photos as Rita Rio and early Paramount publicity shots.

Ann Sheridan - Gown from Nora Prentiss.

Wardrobing at Warners - New costume images.

Journey to Africa - Larger versions of African paintings.

Valley of the Dolls - Premiere Cruise

Valley of the Dolls has the distinction of having the "World's Longest Movie Premiere," lasting twenty-eight days aboard the Princess Italia during it's maiden voyage - traveling from Venice Italy to Southern California. Members of the press reported on the six premieres for local media and dignitaries at stops on the voyage including The Canary Islands, Miami Florida, Nassau Bahamas, Kingston Jamaica, Columbia, through the Panama Canal to Acapulco Mexico before heading to Los Angeles.

A television special, Valley of the Dolls: A World Premiere Voyage, was produced to promote the film, but it seemed more like a cheesy travelogue spending more time on the exotic locations and shipboard amenities than actually interviewing the stars of the film.

Travilla is featured for just a few minutes being interviewed about his designs, though he is also seen in several other bits of the program. In one, he is shown wiping off the lens of his camera. Most probably the same camera with which he took these photos on the Acapulco to Los Angeles segment of the cruise.

Travilla poses next to one of the smokestacks

Travilla hidden in the shadows on the balconey of his hotel

Travillia poses with actress Patty Duke, Miss Duke's husband, and unidentified man.

Patty Duke an husband watch as Virginia Graham is filmed interviewing Sharon Tate.

Virginia Graham interviews Sharon Tate

Casual shot of Sharon Tate taken by Travilla.

Virginia Graham interviews Patty Duke

Virginia Graham interview author Jaqueline Suzanne

Actor Tony Conti on phone.

Actor Tony Conti relaxing on beach.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

More Dresses

While I try and come up with the next in-depth topic on Travilla, thought I would present a few additions to my ever-growing collection. I have purchased a mannequin, but not all dresses fit her, so using the images from where I obtained the item.

Very few photos of Travilla's late 1970s-1980s work, but this was one of the few and too distinct not to remember.

Late 1960s. One piece. Not a skirt, but pants. the amount of fabric in them is obscene. You'd think the mix of patterns would not work, but in person, it does.

Sweet little 1960s jacket with layered collar and interest cuff treatment - edited here due to modesty for the mannequin.

Diahann Carrroll in Julia and Sharon Tate for VOD fashion line.

A blue sleeveless and more formal "curly-hem" dresses. Late 1960s. Travilla first introduced the concept in 1965, but it didn't catch on. Three years later, would reintroduce the idea, using his film and television connections to promote them.

Photo - Julien's
Same material as the dresses above but with a simpler hem and collar with sating trim, this is from his Valley of the Dolls fashion line.

Photo - Julien's
Three of the dresses from Julien's. Early 1960s. Leather buttons on the far left. Simplicity in the center made of faille and an interesting blouse treatment on the far right.

Photo - Julien's
Center dress a variation on one in sketch and photo. Not exactly sure what the button hole in center of "x" is for.

Photo - Julien's
Harvest gold houndstooth patterned wool dress far left. Crepe dress in primrose yellow with sailor collar and sild with ecru and yellow dots. All 1960s.

Photo - Julien's
Short-sleeve day dress of silk bodice and wool skirt with diagonal stripes. Matching three-quarter sleeve jacket in matching wool. Need to re-create the neck and head wear for full effect.

Photo - Julien's
These two weren't sold, so I hope to add them to my collection. Also 1960s, a silk sleeveless dress with primrose yellow floral lace overlay and matching jacket on left with a plaid skirt suit with double-breasted cropped jacket and high-waisted skirt.

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm Back......with Presents!!!!!

Last month on November 8, contents from the Travilla Estate went up for auction, with another group of items sold in an on-line only sale the following Monday. While I wish I could have bought everything, I managed to snag a few items that I'm very pleased to add to my collection, hopefully to be displayed at some point for the public to enjoy. Currently they are still in California, awaiting my arrival to retrieve them.

Photo - Julien's
Travilla's personal scrapbook from the 1940. I had no idea this existed in the Estate's archives. Pages upon pages of articles and images of his earlier work that he felt was important. This will go quite far in filling in the gaps of my research. I'm especially excited about the color versions of the sketches - hopefully there are more than just those pictured.

Sketch  photo - Julien's, others - My archive.
It seems a large group of sketches were discovered since I photographed a visual inventory which was frustrating as there were some stunning ones I'd never seen before. Out of grouping of ten, I found one that goes to a dress in my collection. 

Photo - Julien's
That particular dress is the retail version of one Travilla created for Diahann Carroll, worn when she appeared with Frank Sinatra on television. That sketch is top row, second from left in the group of Carroll sketches now owned.  The sketch bottom row far right is for the dress worn in the photo below from my archives. Such an intricate garment created for literally 3-4 minutes of screen time.

Photo - My archive.
Next to that sketch is what became known as the "Julia dress." Travilla designed an exact duplicate for his daughter Nia to wear to her high school graduation, as well as for retail. The sketch bottom row far left was for an outfit for another television appearance and the garment was for sale, but I reluctantly let it go to another buyer. I had my eye on another piece, one I have a bizarre and strange connection with.

Robe - Julien's, others - My archive.
The Julia robe. Having "discovered" it's provenance, I've always held this piece pretty much above all the others in the collection. In a previous thread, Travilla specifically mentions creating this robe, based upon a design for one from Valley of the Dolls.

Photos - Julien's
As was this near copy of the dress worn by Barbara Parkins in VOD as the "Gillian Girl." The beading is so heavy, the top of the dress is shredded and can only be displayed laying down. but just look at that detail.

Photos - Julien's
The "Mrs. Hughes" referred to in this sketches is actress Jean Peters who Travilla designed for both in film and personal life. Mr. Hughes' first name was Howard.

Photos - Julien's
Knowing how much Travilla loved Africa, and having admired his talents as an artist, I now have two pieces of his personal work and one of the photographs from which he drew his inspiration. I'm hoping to locate and add the other to complete the "set." The painting on the right is over 4 by 3 feet in size.

Photo - Julien's
After finishing the Jeanne Eagels project, I plan on starting one on Travilla's wife of over forty years, starlet Dona Drake. With over 350 photographs (just a partial selection shown above) from her personal archives and her rather interesting life, should be a good read.

Also aquired several dresses circa 1960 which compliment the others I have from my favorite era of his. Those photos to come later.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Promises, Promises...

Just about two months since my last post. Who knew writing a book on someone who hasn't had one written on them since 1930 could be so complicated? The project has gotten so big, have taken on a co-writer who is an accomplished author on her own.

Should hopefully have the completed manuscript to her by middle of December and then can concentrate on updating and continuing this blog.

Bought a few things at the Travilla Auction November 9th. Very sad to watch things scatter to the wind, but managed to grab some items close to me and a couple I had no clue about. Will be sharing photos, plans and comments.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

September UPDATE:

Aside from the Jeanne Eagels biography which has taken up quite a bit of my Travilla-time, I have also been dealing with the passing of my father on August 27th and the settling of his estate.

Once I return from my October research trip to Kansas City MO, I'll devote more time to all things Travilla!

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm going to be published!

I apologize for the lack of updates on the blog, but I do have a good reason. I signed a contract with BearManor Media to publish my ever-growing biography of actress Jeanne Eagels.

I'm currently at about two hundred pages with a few more to go. Deadline is the end of December, but should be finished way before that and promise to get back to exploring the life and career of William Travilla.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Joanne Woodward - Signpost to Murder 1964

Woodward played Molly Thomas the lover of a doctor who attempts to frame a patient for her husband's murder in this black and white thriller distributed by metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1964.

Travilla and Woodward in her on-set dressing room.
Sketch for the film and one for a Vogue editorial spread.

Travilla loved his ombre as seen in the coat for Woodward for the film and a similar
outfit from his 1963 fashion line.

As with From the Terrace, Travilla created a fashion line based on the costumes worn by Woodward and traveled around the country promoting it as reported in the March 9, 1964 issue of the trade publication Boxoffice: "The first of a series of fashion promotions by Designer Travilla for MGM's "Signpost to Murder took place February 27 in Alexandria, Virginia. The studio shipped Joanne Woodward's Travilla wardrobe from the film to the southern city for a charity fashion show which was attended by approximately 2000 social, style and civic leader. the theme of the show was Murder in Fashion with Travilla addressing the group and explaining the transformation of a couturier's top designs into motion picture fashions. He also showed his latest spring collection exhibiting portrait stills of Miss Woodward wearing the new styles."

Notice the simplified collar on the retail version versus Woodward's from the film.
The collar on Woodward's coat is cut much higher than the retail version.
The jacket/evening gown combination above was also worn by  Mrs. Elliot Ruel in the 1963 Automobile Show held at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in October. Selected designers were matched up with a particular brand of car and created an outfit to go along with it. Travilla was paired with the Lincoln Continental and this was his "vision."

Travilla would not work professionally with Woodward again for six years, but two years later, with his help, managed to settle an old score with Joan Crawford from 1958.  "Joanne Woodward is setting the cause of Hollywood glamour back twenty years by making her own clothes."the actress told the press in regards to Woodwards announcement of making her evening gown herself at the 1958 Academy Awards. When attending the 1966 Academy Awards ceremony in a Travilla gown, Woodward made the statement "I hope this makes Joan Crawford happy."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Joanne Woodward - The Stripper 1963

Lila Green is an insecure and aging showgirl for Madame Olga's stage shows. When her boyfriend, Rick, runs off with the shows money, Madame Olga and Ronny let Lila go. Lila goes to stay with her old neighbors, Helen Bard and her teenage son, Kenny. Lila decides to go out and get a regular job and try and live a normal life. All seem well until, Lila and Kenny stop fighting their attraction for one another

The role of Lila, washed-up showgirl of the title, was originally intended for Marilyn Monroe, who was replaced by Joanne Woodward when negotiations fell through. The ironic opening sequence has the bleached blonde title character, upon her arrival in Hollywood, being mistaken for Jayne Mansfield by a tourist. 

Monroe had been considered for the part as early as 1961 co-starring opposite Pat Boone who turned the part down as his strong religious beliefs nor did he feel his fans would be comfortable with him in such a role. Monroe's death had nothing to do with Woodward being cast in the film. In fact, the April 28, 1962 Los Angeles Times listed The Stripper as one of four films in production at the studio, including Monroe's Something's Got to Give. In fact, Woodward would perform the song "Something's Got to Give" in the film.

Mis-identified as a Marilyn Monroe sketch, Woodward poses with Gypsy Rose Lee
wearing one of Travilla's creeations.

For her role in The Stripper also known under the working title The Woman in July, Travilla dressed Woodward in silk and other sheer fabrics that reveal her body movement. But as Joanne's breast were small, they created "breast cards" that glued to her body and gave the illusion of a fuller figure. "I called in the studio sculptor to make some plaster casts of Joanne's body. From these, they made another form and created several sets of clay breasts until I gave my approval.....nothing too much, just beautiful breasts that scoop up and move." From that, thin foam pads were created and glued daily to the actress' body. "It was a tribute to Joanne as an actress that she went through all this for the role."

Another "mistaken Marilyn" sketch minus sleeves worn by Woodward.

Travilla was nominated for his last Academy Award for Costume Design in a black and white film, losing to Piero Gherardi for 8 1/2.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Travilla Estate going up for Aucton

 October 11th!

It is with a somewhat heavy heart and mixed emotions that what I've known about for many months has finally been publicly announced - that except for a few select items, the entire contents of the Travilla Archives will be sold this Fall.

While the visions of a full-on tour showcasing Travilla's career in both film and fashion and a coffee-table book of the same were never realized, at least there will be a permanent record of the collection for posterity and others will now get to enjoy what I have had the privilege of working with for the past six years.

Thanks B. & G. for a wonderful ride.

But don't think the Travilla legacy or Travilla Style is over by any means, cause it ain't!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Joanne Woodward - From the Terrace 1960

Joanne Woodard and Travilla worked together on four films, with Woodward's husband, Paul Newman co-starring in three of them. The couple developed a very warm relationship with Travilla that lasted until his death.

The first of the four productions was From the Terrace in which Woodward portrayed Mary St. John, the wife of an ambitious young executive chooses a loveless marriage and an unfulfilling personal life in exchange for a successful Wall Street career.

Hedda Hopper announced in her November 19, 1959 column "Woodward has 20 high fashion styles in From the Terrace and will give a one woman fashion show by Travilla who's designing her costumes."

A few weeks later Travilla talked to the press about his latest leading lady, "Joanne is fresh, delightful and a great actress. But in all her previous roles she has never yet been seen in high fashion, nearly all required her to appear in extremely simple, even dowdy, clothes. In real life she's the sweater and skirt type, a plain neckline and full skirt were standard equipment." She felt a bit skittish about attempting a chic, high-fashion look." 

I had trouble convincing her so I showed her some dresses on models and explained that she could look the same in those clothes if she could feel them inside - think "tall" and try a different silhouette than from roles past, as this film required her to be clothed in tons of beautiful outfits."

 "She ended up wanting all the film creations for her own wardrobe."

And why not with over $70,000 being spent on costumes with fabrics costing $30 to $50 per yard imported from France and Italy including silks, worsted wools, wrap-printed brocades and mylar iridescent velvet that simulates a beaded effect of peacock feathers.

Travilla told reporters "The assignment was a dream. All of the feminine roles are those of wealthy sophisticated women." which the designer would use to his advantage in creating a line of clothing based upon the costumes worn by Woodard in the film, something he would also do in their third film together.

This slim putty-silk sheath topped by a seven-eighths coat styled with cutaway front and a two-button closing at the waistline was adapted from Woodward's which was executed in beige wool with a deeper beige collar for better definition on the screen.

Or this gold ombre dress and jacket combination from the same fabric as Woodward's garment.

And unknow reviewer described Woodward's wardrobe as: "This being the end of the 1950s, makeup is heavy but flawless, tending to emphasize the two-dimensional image onscreen. The wardrobe is vintage Travilla, the American designer most well-known for dressing Marilyn Monroe in some of her most memorable gowns (including the white halter dress with pleated skirt in The Seven Year Itch). His negligees, daywear, and formal gowns look stunning on Joanne Woodward and the statuesque Elizabeth Allen as the nosy Sage Rimmington. To the popular wasp-waisted silhouette of the day, Travilla added contrasting lengths or structured drapery falling from the hip. He favored monochromatic looks in this picture, something that is particularly successful in the film’s penultimate scene when Woodward arrives for a board meeting at Newman’s office in an ensemble of corporate grey—dress, furs, gloves, bag, and turban head wrap. Travilla says much with this costume: Woodward is trespassing on a male-only domain and she’s there on sufferance in spite of the deference of the gentlemen. Everyone thinks Alfred is about to deliver an important presentation, but instead he quits dramatically. He leaves the room and jumps in a taxi, declaring his independence from Mary. Woodward is left on a New York street corner, shouting “Alfred!” like any common fishwife. She may look like Park Avenue, but she’s really Bed-Stuy."