Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year at The Biltmore

Gene decides to ring in the New Year at The Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Today’s post features 2004’s Annual Edition Doll, TellStar, a circa 1961 outfit.

From the story card:

The reception was in full swing, and Gene was having the time of her life. A well-known publisher was planning to do a special book celebrating Gene’s twentieth year in show business, and tonight’s festivities were to announce the project. Gene had made her way to a quiet corner, sipping a glass of champagne, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Miss Marshall?” The voice behind her was deep and rich—and unfamiliar. Gene turned to see a handsome man in a tuxedo, tall and dark, with flecks of gray at his temples.

“Hello,” smiled Gene. “Have we met?”

“Not yet—and I thought it was time. You’re my assignment.”

Gene laughed. “It sounds like I’m a textbook!”

“Not really.” He smiled. “What I mean to say is I’ve been assigned to work closely with you to record your memories for our book. And so I’d like to present you with this…” And he handed her a beautifully wrapped package.

Gene pulled away the paper. There in her hands was a beautiful scrapbook, with her signature “G” inscribed on the front in silver.

“I want you to spend the next year filling this for me,” he said, taking her hand and laughing. “Come on and tell, Star! Put in any memories you treasure: clippings, photos, memorabilia—anything that you can think of that’s made your life in show business the special one.”

And as she gazed into his deep, warm eyes, Gene added one more memory to her mental scrapbook…

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trent in Café Olé

Today, Estrellita’s male companion takes you on a tour of some of the California Missions. Trent, dressed in Café Olé, was a Friday Luncheon souvenir doll at the same Convention that yielded Estrellita (2002’s Fiesta de Albuquerque). This limited edition of 500 is one of the more coveted Trent Osborns.

There’s something about doll hats for male dolls; they never seem to be the right size/scale; for this photo, I reduced the size through photoshop, and it appears to fit much better!

And in black and white:

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gene as Estrellita

While everyone else posts photos of Gene in Holiday garb, I’m going to do a little bit of counterprogramming and show Gene in one of her most festive outfits: Estrellita. This Convention doll was a souvenir at The Fiesta de Albuquerque, held October 25th-27th, 2002, in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Hyatt Regency. Given away at the Saturday Banquet, “Estrellita” is a Circa 1945 doll, designed by Jim Howard, and was a limited edition of 500.

The doll shown here is actually “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” I had the talented Kathy in Oregon give extra spit curls on the side so that she could double as both, thus being able to sell one doll and save some room!

Happy Holidays to all—may they be as festive as these photos!

See more Gene Marshall and Friends photos at my regular website.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Designed by José Ferrand, this circa 1951 just leaps off the page with its vibrant hot pink hue. In picture one, Gene poses with the Tournament of Roses Court. Of course, Gene is the loveliest one!

From the story card:

Nearly ten years had passed since Gene’s triumphant transplanting from the East Coast to the sunny shores of California. And Monolithic was ready to celebrate in a big way.

The parade was set for New Year’s Day, as usual. But this year, everything was going to come up roses for Gene, for instead of GIVING Gene roses for her tenth anniversary—Monolithic was putting her right in the MIDDLE of the biggest bouquet they could create: a beautifully decorated parade float, with Gene riding in glory high atop a cascade of rose petals.

All along the parade route, Gene, impeccably dressed in a beautiful rose-colored ensemble, smiled and waved to the adoring fans who crowded the palm-lined streets. Some even snuck up to the float and took a petal from its frame, to be pressed in a memory book filled with clippings about this very special parade.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Thank Heaven For Little Gene

Today Gene models an outfit worn by Leslie Caron in the famous MGM musical, “Gigi,” released in 1958. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, it is considered the last of the famous MGM musicals made under the Arthur Freed unit (think “Meet Me In St. Louis,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Easter Parade,” and then you’ll get an idea of the caliber of talent that we’re talking about here!). Costumes were by the legendary Cecil Beaton. The outfit being modeled by Gene is a very accurate reproduction by the team at Madame Alexander’s.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gene as Marilyn: Night Before Christmas

Kathy in Oregon did it again; she turned a doll that was “ho-hum” for me into a va-va-voom. Gene now evokes Marilyn Monroe, circa 1962, thanks to Kathy's expert styling talents. Want to commission her? Just email her at:

Marilyn lent Gene this Franklin Mint outfit titled “Night Before Christmas,” based on an outfit Marilyn actually wore for a holiday publicity still.

Move over Michelle Pfeiffer!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Franklin Mint Scarlett: Final Farewell Review

When I saw that The Franklin Mint was releasing “Final Farewell,” I was very excited to see how they would interpret the costume Vivien Leigh wore when Clark Gable told her, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!” The Tonner version, called “In The Mist,” used a deep purple velvet and came only as a costume. Tonner publicity photos showed a Scarlett doll (not included) with a hairstyle that is definitely more screen accurate than the Franklin Mint version.

Yesterday, Final Farewell was on my doorstep. Here are my impressions. First, I’ll start with the positives. The, did the Mint hit a home run with their replication of Scarlett’s jewelry!

Even though Franklin Mint consistently does a top-notch job with their jewelry, this one still blew me away, especially when you look at the movie and see that they actually took the time to replicate the actual cameo design worn by Vivien Leigh. The Mint also added pearl stud earrings; a nice touch, but not something actually worn by Scarlett in the movie.

The fit of the dress is wonderful; velvet, due to its heavy nature, can drape awkwardly on a doll. As you can see, the fit and drape of this outfit are just right. I do have a beef about the velvet itself, as it does seem a little too shiny, and not what you would expect a 19th century vixen like Scarlett to be wearing.

This costume is a difficult one to compare with the screen-worn version; very few details show up (even on a blu-ray disc of the movie) as the low lighting and dark color of the dress practically obliterate any highlights. Tonner included stitching on the collar; a nice touch, but I can't verify through the publicity stills or the movie that the film version had this stitching. Yet, the Franklin Mint website clearly states:

Our Scarlett O’Hara™ Final Farewell Vinyl Portrait Doll is handcrafted from luxurious black velvet with trapunto stitched collar, cuffs and shoulder cape. Features a cameo brooch and adjustable bustle.

Stitching can be see on the sleeve detail, but nowhere else. I noticed on some of the boards that people were wondering what an adjustable bustle meant. There is an actual bustle/pad tied around Scarlett's waist, so I guess if you wanted to adjust it, you could. Maybe give her a baby bump in front for fun? Naw...

The hairstyle looks much better than the publicity stills. For the nitpickers, Leigh’s hair is pulled in tighter on the sides as well as at the nape of the neck; the fullness of the doll wig and rolls gets in the way of the collar and keeps it from framing her face as it does in the film. This would definitely be an argument in favor of the Mint to switch to rooted hair instead of the wigs that they continually use.

For the following three photos, I removed the Mint’s collar and replaced it with one made by Alana Bennett. Alana’s collar is more screen accurate in size, and also has the stitching that the Mint left out.

Is she worth the Mint’s asking price? Personally, I wouldn’t pay it. Discounted, yes, she is a nice addition, but other than the cameo, nothing to really write home about. Once again, the Mint’s sculpt is superior in capturing the likeness of Vivien Leigh; once again, the paint job on it is harsh and the color palette of the eyes is garish. I would have to say that my feelings about this one are on the fence.

See more Scarlett and Gone with the Wind doll photos at my regular website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gene Marshall: “Red-dy For Love”

Another case of me buying a doll with an outfit with every intention of just keeping the outfit...and then deciding to keep both. The hairdo/paint of “Red-dy For Love” is reminiscent of Destiny, but with a more mature appearance. This doll (dressed in a circa 1944 red peignoir designed by Lynne Day) stands need for fancy backgrounds.

From the story card:

1944’s “Red Venus” caused many a jaw to drop. Here was sweet Gene Marshall, “Our All-American Girl” as a gangster’s moll—a lady whose repute might not have been ill, but was certainly ailing!

Gene was having the time of her life, playing the Bad Girl usually portrayed by the likes of Madra Lord. The lights on the set dimmed as Gene’s lighting stand-in moved out of the “boudoir” and into the cool darkness. Gene took her place at the dressing table, picked up her hand mirror and brush and began to absent-mindedly brush her hair.

This was the big scene. Having been forced into a marriage to stifle a “stoolie” by her gangster boyfriend, she was in a provocative peignoir, waiting on their wedding night for her “husband” to come back from an “appointment.”

See more Gene Marshall doll photos at my regular website.