Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marilyn Monroe: Happy Birthday, Mr. President



I’ve collected the majority of the Franklin Mint’s portrait dolls, but I have to say that in capturing a celebrity’s likeness, Marilyn Monroe is probably their best effort.



This particular vinyl portrait doll is dressed to portray Marilyn when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy on Saturday, May 19, 1962 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. More than 15,000 people were in attendance to see what would turn out to be Marilyn’s last public performance.



Marilyn’s dress was designed by Jean Louis and had over 2500 rhinestones sewn into it; as she stepped onto the stage, the sultry star was literally aglow. Back in 1999, the dress was sold for $1.26 million, which makes this FM doll a real value!



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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gene Marshall: Platinum Dream



I originally bought this doll for only the outfit; once she arrived, I decided to keep both. What is it about Gene? This circa 1951 evening gown also harkens back to the 1930’s & 1940’s; Gene evokes Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, and Veronica Lake. Created by Dean LaSasso, there are plenty of Swarovski crystals to help our shimmering star to sparkle even more than usual. From the story card:

It was 1951. Ten years since Gene burst upon the Hollywood scene with the intensity of a white hot comet, blazing through the cinematic sky!

And what a year 1951 had been for America’s—the world’s—favorite Girl Star. It started with Gene riding in the New Year’s parade on a rose-covered float sponsored by Monolithic to honor her tenth anniversary; her mother presented her with a cameo for her 28th birthday; she went on a safari in Africa while on location for her hit film “Daughter of the Nile”…



Then, to top if all off, Gene was honored at a special Gala recalling her fabulous career. All Hollywood turned out for the event, hosted by Gene’s co-worker and co-star, Madra Lord. Gene’s parents even flew in from Cos Cob along with the mayor, who was to give Gene the “Key to the City.”




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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gene Marshall: The Spirit of Truth



Personally, I think this has to be one of the oddest AND most daring costumes that the Ashton Drake ever presented for Gene. I would venture to say that this circa 1943 creation has limited appeal and yet, I also applaud AD for producing it in the first place...and with cool accessories: the shield, the sword, the boots! Reminiscent of Joan of Arc, Gene looks like she’s ready to kick some $%& in this costume, designed by Ashton-Drake’s Young Designers of American Competition winner Eryn Machnica.

During World War II, many famous stars and directors volunteered their services to the war effort. Using the weapons they handled best—cameras and boundless talent—reel after reel of patriotic short subjects rolled out of Hollywood to inspire the public.

Gene was already one of the most active stars, donating what spare time she had to bond drives, cross-country train and bus tours—and eventually a successful sting with the USO. But one of her finest thespian contributions was her portrayal of “The Spirit of Truth” in a trailer for war bonds. Created to be played along with Monolithic Studios’ features, it starred many of the studio’s contract players, all instantly recognizable to the movie going public and sure to start viewers digging into pockets and purses to Buy Bonds right away.



In “The Spirit of Truth,” a group of kids (played by Monolithic’s “bad boys,” the Bratzanjammer Boys) stop their play in the park to get into a heated discussion about The War. One of the kids makes a questionable statement—and suddenly, the statue of The Spirit of Truth that they’re arguing under comes to life to set the kids straight.

Gene was even more dynamic than usual, bringing many a tear to the eyes of not only the audience, bu of her fellow players during the filming.

And that’s the truth.




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Sunday, May 23, 2010

C'est Moi, Madra Lord



With a slightly different facial paint than she usually has, Madra resembles a 1930’s Marlene Dietrich or Jean Harlow with her pencil thin eyebrows. Love the outfit, which also evokes Miss Dietrich, one of the first female stars who was brazen enough to wear pants (gasp!) in public!

From the press archive dossier:

1932. “Please, please, PLEASE!” Madra was imploring the photographers as she stepped onto the dock in Nice. “No pictures. I am TRYING to sneak away from the hectic life of a popular movie star and spend a little QUIET time here on the Côte d’Azur…”

That didn’t seem to stop the photographers—or Madra Lord from pausing just long enough to have them get her best side. “Please, be nice in Nice give me my privacy.” Her hand fluttered to the pearl choker at the throat. “Little moi just wants to say that I appreciate the attention, but please, please, PLEASE!”

One last pose, and she pushed through the crowed. Standing on teh dock was a liveried chauffer holding a sign reading “MADRA LORD, MOVIE STAR” in bold letters. “Mlle Madra Lord, Movie Star?” the chauffer said, rather loudly.



“Yes, my darling, c’est moi!” Madra trumpeted back. “And I’m SO glad to be here!”

“The Prince, who shall remain nameless, has retained me to be your guide while you are in France. I will obtain your bags and drive you to your hotel in Cannes, Mis,” said the chauffer in perfect English.

“Merci beaucoup,” said Madra. And she followed him to the car.




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Friday, May 21, 2010

Gene visits Whidbey Island, Pt. 2



More from the talented hands of Diane at Whidbey Island. Today’s post features an outfit that Diane created based upon an Edith Head design used in the fashion show segment of the Jane Wyman movie “Lucy Gallant” (1955). A number of 1940’s & 1950’s movies featured fashion shows as part of the storyline; this was a great way to show off the designs of the studio costumer as well as do potential movie merchandising of similar garments.



I love the rich black faux fur used on the trim and the hat; so much of the fur you see used in doll-sized fashion is too large and looks very fake. Diane’s outfit is spot-on and looks fabulous!





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Monday, May 17, 2010

Gene visits Whidbey Island



It is amazing what you can find when you nose around the internet. I fortunately stumbled upon Diane. Like Chris Stoeckel, her sense of scale and attention to detail are IMPECCABLE! I recently purchased a few of her outfits. This particular ensemble is based on a creation by Jaques Fath. The purse is borrowed from Cherry Smash.





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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gene & Lucy



She’s plain, she’s classic, and her hair is aflame! She’s Gene Marshall Color Deal Special Scene Turquoise. I had visions of her wearing Lucille Ball’s wardrobe when I snagged her on ebay. From the story card:

Gene Marshall looked across the table at her good friend Ivy Jordan as the clink of coffee cups at Mac’s Diner filled the air.

“Just one last touch…” Ivy raised her coffee to her lips and took a sip. “I just need one last touch to make ‘Color Deal’ a true smash hit.”

“Color Deal” was a project that was near and dear to both women’s hearts. To Ivy, it was a film she had written, incognito, and acted in AND took over as director of when the original director, Miles Martin, had stalked off the set. And for Gene, it was not only a film with a wonderful role written by one of her oldest and dearest friends—she was the one who had encouraged Ivy to go to Reuben Lilienthal and ask to direct the picture, fulfilling Ivy’s dream.



So the stakes were high.

Gene started in on the steak and egg plate the women were sharing. “So you’re looking for a special little scene—the cherry on the sundae, right?”

Ivy noddded as she chewed her steak.“Just that one little something,” she sighed.

Gene poked at her eggs and began hatching an idea. “What if…”
“What if…” Ivy repeated, knowing that most “what ifs” were the start of brilliance.




Meanwhile, back to present day...I decided to try this particular Gene in a few Lucy outfits from the Franklin Mint. Doing so really showed me the superior quality of the Gene Marshall outfits.



Sadly, the beautiful pattern on this outfit appears to be some kind of iron-on transfer. Figured I'd better photograph it before it began to yellow and crack!



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Friday, May 14, 2010

OOAK Couture: Chris Stoeckel, Pt. 3



For those of you who think Gene is ending and no more outfits will be available, just feast your eyes on these custom creations by Chris Stoeckel. As long as there are talented designers out there like Chris, Gene’s (and her friends'!) wardrobe will never end!











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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gene Marshall: Tiers of Joy



This recent acquisition has won me over. Tiers of Joy is the perfect example of the wonderful attention to detail that Mel Odom & Ashton Drake lavished on Gene Marshall. This doll came with a miniature scrapbook page, an outfit, fan, headdress, jewelry, corset, pantaloons...the list goes on. And besides quantity, this poseable gal also has quality. If you can, GET HER! From the Story Card for this circa 1885 design:

“Oh Katie—look at this…”

Gene made her way through the neatly stacked boxes in her parents’ attic in their Cos Cob home, being careful not to bump her head on the low beams. Her mother was holding the lid of a box in one hand, the fingers of her other hand pressed to her lips.



Gene looked into the box and gave a little cry. Tiers and tiers of fabric were cascading from the box her mother held. “Oh, my! Is this the dress that Grandma wore in the portrait that’s in the den?”

“Yes, Katie. And it’s in beautiful shape. You know, you’re about the same size as Grandma was. Would you like to take it back to California with you? Maybe you would wear it to a party or to a premiere—I know your grandma would have gotten such joy seeing you in it…”




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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Marilyn & Chanel



In her short life, Marilyn Monroe was one of the most photographed women to have ever graced this planet. This iconic image shows the platinum-haired beauty putting a dab of Chanel No. 5 on. The Franklin Mint dared to attempt to evoke this photo with one of their porcelain dolls...and did a damn good job!







Of all the Marilyn dolls that the Franklin Mint has created, this one probably comes the closest to capturing the sexy yet innocent charms of Marilyn. Follow my Gene Marshall updates on Twitter. See more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gene Marshall: Lovely In Lace



Etta Foran is the designer behind this lacy confection that was used for the cover of Mel Odom’s book (see Amazon link below). A beautiful wintry cape was also available for purchase to go along with this circa 1941 outfit. Rather than do any photoshop trickery, I thought these portraits did just fine on their own without any fancy backgrounds. This one works from all aspects: the hair, the doll, the outfit. DEFINITELY a keeper! From the Story Card:

It was the end of a journey.

A journey that had begun in Cos Cob, Connecticut, in the dreams of a small-town girl with hope in her heart and talent that just wouldn’t quit.

She had taken those dreams, hope and talent to New York City. There, good fortune took her by the arm and led her along the path toward stardom.

Model. Usherette. Bright-eyed star to be. Discovered!

Suddenly, she was whisked away on a cross-country magic carpet ride. From New Yorkk to Chicago and then… Hollywood itself.



There she found herself in Pictures with a Capital “P,” just as she’d dreamed. And just as she was getting used to the bright lights and glamour, fate stepped in and there she was, stepping in for the star and meanwhile becoming a star in her own right.

Did the preview audience realize, as they crowded into the theaters and settled into their seats that they were viewing a little bit of Hollywood history happening as the lights dimmed—and there she was, bright on the silver Screen and right where she was always meant to be. Lovely in lace and making her way into the hearts of everyone who saw her.

Gene Marshall—Girl Star!




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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

OOAK Couture: Chris Stoeckel, Pt. 2



A few more fantastic creations from the talented Chris Stoeckel—enjoy!







This one is just waiting to be worn by Lana Turner!



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Monday, May 3, 2010

Gene Marshall: Rags to Riches



Michele Tibbetts is the creative force behind this incredibly detailed concoction from the Turn of the Century...the 20th Century, that is! Photo #1 shows Gene ready to sing a number at Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Saloon. I attempted to put Gene at Knott’s Berry Farm in the Ghost Town Saloon, but it seemed a little TOO authentic and ratty for this upscale ensemble. From the Story Card:

1948’s “She’d Rather Dance” gave audiences a special treat: two Gene Marshalls for the price of one!

In the film, Gene plays the irreverent daughter of one of Boston’s oldest and most influential families who shocks society by accepting a role in a Broadway show.

Nervous and shunned by her stodgy family the night before the Boston opening, the girl (played by Gene) sadly turns to her grandmother for comfort. The grandmother (also played by Gene, using some of the most sophisticated techniques available in Hollywood) quietly closes the parlor door, sits the girl down and says, “Now, child, I am about to let a family skeleton rattle its bones one more time…” With that, she hands the girl her cane and does a spirited catwalk!

The girl gasps, “Grandmama! What are you doing?”




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Saturday, May 1, 2010

OOAK Couture: Chris Stoeckel, Pt. 1



Within a few months, there will be no new Gene Marshall outfits to purchase. Once the Convention in Philadelphia is over, it will signal the end of the line for anymore official Mel Odom ensembles for our favorite Fashion Doll Icon. Eventually, Gene and her friends will get bored wearing the same tired outfits over and over again, but what else can she do? Fear not, Gene admirers! There are a number of very talented designers out there who will keep the dream alive. One such talented person is Chris Stoeckel. Today’s post (and a number of future ones) will feature his fantastic creations. They fit Gene like a glove—both physically and visually, capturing the eras that Gene stepped out of. While some “ooak” designs I see look like something from a bad craft sale, Chris’ truly shine. See for yourself!









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