Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gene Marshall: Imperial She

This circa 1954 outfit from Jason Wu has special meaning for me. It is very evocative of the 1930’s Flash Gordon serial which my father introduced me to. They were a particular favorite of his when he was a young boy and I got to watch them on TV 40 years later. The special effects were not so special, but I still loved watching them! My dad and I used to laugh at the evil Emperor Ming. Anyway...instead of putting Madra in this outfit, I thought Gene should have a chance to play the evil character instead. From the studio archives:

“Distant Venus” started as a Broadway play of the same name. It premiered in 1952 and was a reflection (as much theatre is) of the current manias of the general public. Basically a comic romance, “Distant Venus” combined America’s obsessions with science fiction and the newly emerging media influence of Television. The plot was slight and fantastic. An advanced civilization on planet Venus has begun to observe us through their superior technology and analyze the television broadcasts being sent into the distant airwaves. Their understanding of Earth’s inhabitants it based entirely on American popular culture as filtered through the warped lens of the television and old telvised movies they watch. When visiting Earth they dress in the styles they see in the old movies shown on TV as well as speak like depression era movie gangsers. Venus, as the spoiled princess of this soceity is traditionally named, watches TV and becomes enamored of thehost of a popular New York City based news broadcast. Being pressured by her father, the ruler of their society, and an equally insistent stepmother to marry an air-headed prince of Venusian nobility, our princess rebels and through teleportation follows a TV signal back to its source.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Gene Marshall: Swim Suited To A ‘T’

This circa 1952 outfit from Jason Wu is a vintage winner! I used the deck chair from one of the Hollywood Ahoy Convention and a vintage shot of a beach in San Diego from my youth and voila—the photo you see before you. From the story card:

Excerpt from a 1952 cover story from “Your Move Cavalcade” magazine: “Beach Costume Suits to a ‘T’!” “…and fans crowded the sands of Malibu (standing in for the Cote d’Azur) as Gene Marshall and her Best Buddy Ivy Jordan filmed a beach scene from Gene’s new film, “Love For Sail” — the story of a group of enterprising secretaries who empty their bank accounts to hunt for Mr. Right on a glamorous cruise. Mary (Gene) just can’t seem to keep her dainty foot out of her mouth when the handsome captain is in sight—even under the watchful eye of traveling companion Muriel (Ivy)…”

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Liz Taylor: BUtterfield 8

I’ve never seen this 1960 Liz Taylor movie, but it’s the one that brought the Oscar home for her. The tagline was “The most desirable woman in town and the easiest to find… just call… "BUtterfield 8.” Yup...Liz played a hooker. Franklin Mint did a great job with the fur coat; that was the real attraction for my purchase. The slip is another story. It's a royal pain to get on her, and besides, the peach colored lace trim just looks cheap and out of scale. Liz is looking mighty sexy in photo #2!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Madra: Rich Girl, Pt. 1

Only one photo today as I am a little short on time and I don't want to post just any ol' crap here, especially since I really like this outfit for Madra Lord. This outfit is so Barbara Hutton! seems like I have turned to the dark side and have begun allowing myself to collect the Jason Wu line as well as the Ashton Drake. I resisted for a long time, but the fashions are so well-tailored, the dolls are so much more poseable...oh my poor wallet. From the Script Excerpt:

Eden Vickers (Madra Lord), still dressed in the black and silver fox she was wearing for her appointment with Dr. Pettigrew, runs to Carlson’s cottage door. Sobbing, she knocks and the door opens. Standing there, with an almost heavenly light surrounding him, is Carlson the Gamekeeper (Paddy O’Stone). Eden falls into his arms, weeping.

CARLSON: Why, Miss Eden—what in the name of St. Derrick of Dublin are y'doin' here? You told me that you were going out with that doctor felluh—the one who’s treating your heart…

Eden pulls back from Carlson’s shoulder, almost wincing in pain at the thought of her comflicting emotions.

EDEN: Oh, Carlson. You’ve been like a ather to me all these years. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I feel like any other woman…?

Carlson takes Eden by the shoulders and holds her at arms length.

CARLSON: Now, Miss Eden, I may be an old geezer for the Auld Sod, but you’re about the most womanly little mavourneen that ever these tired old eyes laid their gaze on.

EDEN: (with a little laugh through her tears) Oh, Carlson—I’ll bet you say that to all the girls.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gene Marshall: Twilight Rumba, Pt. 1

It took awhile for me to warm up to this circa 1948 ensemble designed by Doug James; but once I saw her in person, I was very glad that I snagged her! For photo number two, I put Gene into a shot with Harry Belafonte at the Cocoanut Grove Club located in the now demolished Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (insert sigh). From the story card:

As she arranged the flowered comb in her flaming red hair, she thought back to that night five years ago when her life changed forever…

She’d just finished her final set of songs for the cocktail hour and the rays of the setting sun had painted the tropical sky. In the twilight, the orchestra had swung into a rumba. She sighed and turned to go. But she’d found her way blocked by a handsome stranger. “You have the voice of an angel,” he said. She laughed and replied, “I only wish that were true. I took this job becuase they promised me a big executive with GCR records was going to be here, but I guess I’m not going to be discovered after all.” “Ah, but I have discovered you,” he smiled, “and I have no intention of letting you go.” And he hadn’t for not only had they fallen in love, but the handsome stranger turned out to be the recording executive—and soon she was one of the biggest stars in the industry.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Meet Ivy Jordan: Pink and Pearls, Pt. 2

It looks a little chilly in photo number 1; and Ivy is not trying to hide it! More from Ivy’s Journal:

And that's where I suddenly learned, just in time, that I needed to pull out all my acting chops to get what I want—and, with a little help from a friend, I've discovered I'm pretty good at it!

My big meeting with the TSB (see above—figure it out!) was scheduled for this afternoon. I'd prepared and prepared and was just too close to the whole situation—so I called up Gene Marshall, good buddy and honest critic. She was over in a flash.

I sat her down and said, “Okay. You're R.L. And I'm me. And now I'm going to convince you that I'm the perfect one to direct the new Trent Osborn picture…”

Gene smiled, bowed her head… And when she looked back up, I swear that Reuben Lillienthal was sittering there in the room! ”All right, Dearie—so you think you can direct this little picture of ours…”

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Meet Ivy Jordan: Pink and Pearls, Pt. 1

I liked this one the minute I saw it: Gene Marshall’s friend Ivy Jordan in Pink and Pearls, made by the team of Mel Odom & Jason Wu. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get her, but of course the AMAZING folks at Doll Peddlar pulled through with their typical excellent customer service. From Ivy’s Journal:

Dear Journal, You know, I'm finding that being a director is a harder acting job than being an actor!
And I mean that on all levels. For instance, I had no idea when I took over as director from Miles Martin that I'd essentially be eating EVERY part in the picture, right down to the walk-on in a crowd scene. I guess that's just my directing style—I can only feel comfortable helping an actor or actress find the right way to play a scene by “doing it myself.” Oh, well—once a performer, ALWAYS a performer. I suppose...

But the other times I've found that I have to be actor first and director second is when I'm negotiating with the Top Studio Brass! I don't think they're still QUITE used to the idea of a “gal” helming their big projects.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gene Marshall goes to Wonderland

I was VERY pleasantly surprised by the recently released Tim Burton version of “Alice in Wonderland.” Even beforehand, I was considering the Mad Hatter Tonner doll. Although I loved the Alice costume, I was not crazy about the Tonner sculpt for the Alice Kingsleigh doll; I thought the doll looked old and lacked the softness and youth of the actress who played her. Still, the outfit was just too cool to pass up. Thanks to Dreamcastle Dolls, I was able to get my hands on the outfit without the doll for a very good price. Who better to model it than Gene Marshall? Since I wasn't crazy about the hairstyle for Suited for Fur, I had no qualms about undoing it and letting Gene's blond locks cascade down behind her back. These two photos were taken on the fly tonight; I plan on going back at a later date when I have more time to shoot something a little bit more out of the ordinary (probably when my Mad Hatter arrives!).

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meet Madra: Scorned Woman, Pt. 2

Finishing off the post from the other day featuring Madra. When all three story folders (the other two are for Gene and Trent) are placed together, they form a panorama. Mel thinks of everything doesn’t he? Here’s the rest of the story card:

And so Madra joined the cast of “Lover in Disguise” as the dress shop owner. In the film's classic climactic scene, she watches as her fiancĂ©, a dashing playboy played by Trent Osborn, scorns her at a charity ball and runs off with her shopgirl, leaving Madra a masked and fuming wallflower.

But, even behind her mask, Madra showed being a scorned woman included hiding a broken heart and that single tear that trickled from beneath her mask triggered many a stifled sniffle in the audience!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Meet Madra: Scorned Woman

Today marks my first post featuring Madra; obviously, she is not the focus of my Gene collection, but there are a handful of outfits that I like as well as a few Madra dolls that I think make a nice counterpoint to Ms. Marshall. Portrayed as the rival bee-yotch, Madra still has somewhat of a following. This particular Doug James costume was designed for a circa 1946 Masquerade Ball. I was drawn to "Scorned Woman" because of its similarity to Mae West. Photo #1 shows Madra at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego. From the story card:

1946. “Don’t tell me—Gene gets Mr. Right, right?"
Madra was on the phone with her agent, Benny.
"So I won't tell you," he said.
"Story of my life," grumbled Madra.
"What, sweetheart?" I didn't quite catch that," said Benny.
"Oh, nothing—tell me the GOOD part." Madra lay back on her couch and popped a chocolate into her mouth.
"The good part is you get to wear fabulous clothes and the finale is a costume ball where you get to dress up in a turn-of-the-century hussy."
"Ooooh—a turn-of-the-century hussy?" Madra perked up. "Those were the kind of ladies my momma warned me about when I told her I wanted to be an actress! I can't wait to see Momma's face! Of course, I'll take the part—and I'll play this dame with a heart of 24 karat gold and we'll SEE who the audience roots for!"

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Honeymoon, Pt. 3

Here are a few shots from "Honeymoon" with Gene (again) at the Chateau Marmont in shot #1. Although I don't really care for the outfit on "Destiny," the doll sure is beautiful as you can see in these two photos. Just the right amount of "oomph" in this pale blue peignoir. The rest of the story card:

Off flew one of her fur-trimmed mules, high into the air. She caught it in one hand, slipped it on, and walked through her dressing room door and onto the set, ready to be charming for her prince.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gene Marshall: Daughter of the Nile

The 1956 movie "The Ten Commandments" is a classic Hollywood film of excess and historical inaccuracy; despite that, it's a heckuvalotta' fun! Cecil B. DeMille produced this Biblical epic that starred Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter. Baxter's character, Nefretiri, is obviously the inspiration for Gene Marshall's Daughter of the Nile ensemble designed by Timothy Alberts, circa 1952. From the story card:

Determined to entice back audiences lured from movie houses by Hollywood's greatest rival, television, Monolithic Studios poured millions of dollars and an all-star cast of thousands into a stupdendous historical epic called "Daughter of the Nile.” In the female lead they naturally cast their number one box office draw, Gene Marshall. It proved to be a smart move. “Daughter” attracted vast hordes of people back to the theatres, becoming one of Monolithic’s greatest successes.

Gene’s talent and exotic, raven-haired beauty stood out among all the stars packed into this picture, filmed on location in Luxor, Egypt. The filming conditions were primitive. People wilted under the unrelenting sun and hot lights. Make-up crews frantically hid sunburns under melting pancake base.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Gene Marshall: Suited For Fur

At a bargain-basement price because of some light staining on the hands (which is probably easy to remove), I was a sucker for this Jason Wu Gene Marshall—and so glad I got her! The outfit reminded me of the gray suit Kim Novak wore in “Vertigo,” except for the lavender fur of course! Rather than put the pin on the hat, I put it on her coat, as that seemed more appropriate to me. She really is a beauty, and poses very well. Gene is first shown here at Union Station in Los Angeles, wearing her circa 1947 outfit. From the included behind the scene report:

One of the pleasures of “Executive Sweet” was the ensemble cast of first-rate character actors in supporting roles. Foremost among these was actress Millie Kirk, as Gene’s ‘pretend’ mother-in-law to be. Miss Kirk had been a fixture at Monolithic Studio since the 1930’s and had made a wildly successful career of playing befuddled society matrons and clueless mothers and mothers-in-law. The scenes between Gene and Millie sparked with the genius of two generations of actress, working together at their peaks, and loving it.

Though both had worked at the same studio for years, circumstances and schedules had kept them in separate orbits. Other than having passed each other occasionally at parties and at the studio and having a nodding acquaintance, their first planned meeting as actresses and coworkers took place in the studio costume shop.

Millie sure sounds a lot like Billie Burke!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gene Marshall: Mood Music

Designed by Lynne Day for the 1999 Gene Convention, Mood Music is a circa 1956 hostess outfit. This is a classic Susan Hayward look; I love the simplicity, the warm coppery colors of the skirt and the blouse; the aqua color of the sash is the perfect accent to an otherwise plain outfit. The record album is the kind of bonus accessory that I love! For the first photo, I posed Gene in the living room of a suite at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. What better place for a little informal party? From the storycard:

Hand-written invitations. Hand-delivered by the hostess.

If something like that arrived at your doorstep, how could you resist dropping by Gene Marshall’s place for an intimate cocktail party? What a perfect opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of studio demands—and just spend a little time enjoying friends and listening to the relaxing sounds of your favorite tunes.

It was a group that had fallen together naturally, drawn to each other by their love of simple things: marvelous music, fine food, close company, a lively laugh—and by the love of life itself.

Throwing this party was like a mini-vacation for Gene. There was hardly anything she liked better than putting together a gathering for her cohorts. What a wonderful way to spend the day. She was happily busy until the very last minute, arranging canapĂ©s, setting out mixers, filling ice buckets, rearranging furniture…

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Meet Bette Davis

This particular Tonner doll has grown on me. The resemblance to the real Bette Davis was even more apparent to me when I started photographing the doll. My initial wish on this particular line was that Tonner would concentrate on a more mature Bette Davis; the first Bette Davis dolls seemed to be more of a 1930’s era rather than the classic 1940’s/50’s star that was more popular. The recent additions of this doll ("The Woman is Certain") and the most recent “Sealing the Deal" (extremely reminiscent of "Now Voyager") seems to be a step in the right direction.

Here's Bette in front of a New York City brownstone looking for a light.

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