Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gene raids Madra’s closet: Golden Riviera

Even sweet little Gene likes a little bling, so for this photo shoot which begins in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Gene borrows Madra’s Golden Riviera outfit. Gene really seems to be channeling Barbara Eden as Jeannie, doesn’t she?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Stardust Gene visits Philadelphia

Everyone fortunate enough to attend the final Gene Convention in Philadelphia came back with great stories about what they did, what they ate, and what they saw. But what about Gene? What did she do? These photos show our girl Gene dressed in Stardust visiting the City of Brotherly Love, all by herself, contemplating what happens next for her. The first photo shows Gene heading towards South Street to see what’s happening on one of the most active streets in the area.

Where better to show off her beautiful gown than on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art?

Posing in front of Independence Hall, I think I actually see some of that Stardust surrounding Gene!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

D.A.E. Outfit: Dinner at Maxim's

Wearing an outfit by D.A.E., Gene travels to Maxim’s in Paris. The black "mink" wrap was an addition; I was concerned Gene might get a little chilly.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gene Marshall: Silhouette of the 1940’s

Every now and then, I get a doll that I think is really amazing, and then when I photograph it, something just doesn't gel. This was one of those dolls. So...I tried again a few months later, and this time I was happy with the results. Sure, it’s a very simple dress, but I love the styling and vintage feel about it. For photo #1, Gene is standing on Hollywood Boulevard, admiring Dick Powell’s star. The background is from a vintage 1963 photo.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The One That I Want

One of my favorite movies is “Grease” (1978) starring Olivia Newton-John. When I saw that the Gene Convention produced a bald Gene capable of wearing wigs (Daily Threads), I immediately thought of the Sandy Grease doll from the Franklin Mint which came with 2 wigs. One was for Good Sandy (think Sandra Dee!) and the other was for BAD Sandy (what a tramp!). is Gene wearing Olivia Newton-John's famous black spandex outfit from the "You're The One That I Want" number.

Here's Gene posed in front of Venice High School, which was used for the exteriors of Rydell High at the beginning of the movie "Grease."

My overall thoughts on Daily Threads? Well, I was very excited by the concept of being able to change wigs on Gene. But concept and reality are two different things. In my opinion, wigs rarely look natural on a doll, and Daily Threads is no exception. For now, I'll keep her, but other than for shots with outfits that feature a turban or a REALLY funky hairstyle, Daily Threads will not get much use.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gene & Judy at MGM, Pt. 3

When we last left this story, Gene Marshall was trying on the classic black tux coat and fedora hat from her friend Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” number.

Judy was bubbling over with enthusiasm, seeing Gene happily playing dress-up and posing for the photographer.

“Sydney—let’s do ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ next!”

Sydney took Gene to the hair department as Judy stayed behind to assist Helen in wardrobe. With the help of a red wig, Gene was quickly transformed into Esther Smith, Judy’s character from “Meet Me In St. Louis.” As Gene put on the ruffled white outfit from the film’s finale, she felt like she had died and gone to heaven.

“Oh Judy, this is too much—I can’t believe I am wearing this! I remember sitting in the theater watching you up on the screen in this!”

And so the afternoon went. Gene modeled outfits from “The Harvey Girls” as well as the costumes from “The Wizard of Oz.” Imagine how Gene felt when she put on Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers and blue gingham dress—she felt like she had traveled over the rainbow!

Gene also tried on The Wicked Witch’s sinister black dress. For the backdrop, Judy again used her pull and had the men in the background department unfurl one of the painted backdrops that was used in the actual movie.

The costume for spinster Elvira Gulch, the witch’s alter ego, was also a lot of fun, but not as much as Glinda’s frothy pink confection of a gown. For each costume change, Sydney was on hand to select just the right wig. The two girls were having such fun it was hard for Sydney and Helen to be mad for keeping them late at the studio.

Thankfully these photographs survive to show you a sampling of what Gene Marshall experienced on that magical afternoon that she spent at MGM with her friend, Judy Garland.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gene & Judy at MGM, Pt. 2

Director Charles Walters yelled for quiet on the set and then in a much quieter voice asked Judy, “Darling, are you ready to rehearse the number yet?”

“Rehearse it?” barked Judy. “Hell, I’m ready to shoot it! Don’t waste everyone’s time, Buster—let the film roll!”

There was much nervous laughter; Walters didn’t want to offend the emotional star, so he played along. “OK crew—you heard her—action!”

Gene whispered to Sydney, “Are they really going to do this without a rehearsal?”

“It would appear so!”

Out came the clapboard, “Get Happy—take one! Playback—begin!” CLACK!

The trumpets from the prerecorded number blared over the loudspeaker. The tuxedoed dancers performed their steps in a circle, with Judy not yet visible to the camera. When the introduction quieted down to a pulsing beat, the dancers stepped away and revealed Judy, standing casually against a backdrop of a pink sky with white fluffy clouds. Looking young and refreshed, Judy lip-synched perfectly to the playback, moving effortlessly through the routine. Gene watched in awe; she couldn’t believe that this was the same person that MGM was ready to write-off as a loss only a few months before.

At the end of the number, Judy was all smiles as she tipped her fedora to the crew. Chuck Walters applauded wildly as did the rest of those on set. Judy had done the number perfectly—in one take! Her entourage surrounded her quickly with a towel and water; she politely waved them off as she made her way over to Gene and Sydney. Judy gave Gene a big hug and said, “What are you doing here on your day off? Surely you have better things to do than to watch me do this pitiful little number!”

“Pitiful?” exclaimed Gene. “That has got to be one of the most memorable musical numbers I have EVER seen!”

“You are too kind, my dear! Now come on back to my dressing room—we have a lot to catch up on!”

As the set cleared and everyone went home, Judy and Gene locked arms, laughing and giggling uncontrollably along the way to Judy’s dressing room. After quite some time, a knock at the trailer door interrupted the two. Judy opened the door to reveal Sydney.

“Judy—they need your outfit back in wardrobe and your assistant has already left. Would you be a dear?”

Turning to her friend, Judy said, “Gene, I have to take this outfit back to wardrobe; how about going with me? It seems we’ve gabbed so long that my assistant has already gone home! Some assistant!”

“I’d love to, Judy!” Gene replied. “I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the other costumes you get to wear, too—I am so jealous of all those beautiful designs! What I wouldn’t give to wear some of the gorgeous outfits Walter Plunkett, Irene, and Helen Rose created for you!”

At that, Judy’s mouth crinkled into a devilish smile as an idea popped into her head. Without any notice, she grabbed Sydney and Gene’s hands and started pulling them with her.

“Judy, what are you doing? I need to get home to walk the dogs,” said Sydney.

“Sydney, with what they pay you here, you can afford a new rug if they leave a mess! Come with me, you two!”

Next thing Gene knew, they were at the wardrobe department. Helen Rose was getting ready to close up for the day.

“Oh thank you so much, Judy. I appreciate you bringing this back to us.”

“Just how much do you appreciate it, Helen?” Judy shot back with a grin. She whispered something in Helen’s ear; Sydney and Gene looked back and forth at each other, puzzled.

“Oh Judy, I really don’t know…I’m not sure if we’re allowed to do that.”

“Whatever she asked, Helen, just do it; you know as well as I do that there’s just no saying ‘no’ to Judy!” said Sydney, happily exasperated.

“I’m glad you feel that way, Sydney!” said Judy with a smirk. “Because I need a little help from you as well! Get a photographer from publicity, help Gene into my ‘Get Happy’ costume, and we’ll meet back on the set for photos!”

Both Helen and Sydney rolled their eyes, but knew they were helpless. Who could resist the bewitching charms of Judy Garland?

“Gene—your wish is going to come true today!” Judy said to her confused friend.

In part 3, see Gene model more of Judy's famous costumes. Follow my Gene Marshall updates on Twitter. See more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gene & Judy at MGM, Pt. 1

Welcome to a 3 part series I wrote detailing a very special meeting between Judy Garland and Gene Marshall. Hope you enjoy!

It was Monday, March 20, 1950; Gene Marshall would never forget that day for as long as she lived. It began with an early morning call from her friend Sydney Guilaroff, hair stylist supreme from rival film studio, MGM. Although he didn’t work at Monolithic Studios, Sydney was a close personal friend of Gene’s and often styled her hair for premieres, parties, and other special events.

“She’s coming in today!” Sydney breathlessly relayed to Gene. She knew exactly who he was talking about, even though he never said her name. “She recorded the song last week and is going to film the dance number this afternoon; please come if you could—she really could use a friend on the set.”

The “she” that Sydney was referring to was none other than the legendary Judy Garland. The last few years had been very troubling for the talented young lass; she’d been removed from a number of high-profile pictures (such as “Annie Get Your Gun”), was in a crumbling marriage to Vincente Minnelli, and was battling an addiction to pills that began from being overworked at the studio. Instead of giving their star the rest she deserved and needed after the fiasco of “Annie Get Your Gun,” MGM called her back prematurely for her next film, “Summer Stock,” and told her that she was required to lose weight—and fast! In the role of a farmgirl, the extra pounds hardly mattered. Still, Judy found herself back into the routine of taking pills to stay awake at work and then more pills to help her sleep at night. Years of doing this had finally begun to take their toll on her body.

After filming had wrapped up in early February, Judy took another break to try to get herself together and figure out just what her future held. Once again, MGM had other plans. “Summer Stock” was a cute picture, but it lacked the big production number Judy’s fans required of her. Summoning her back barely a month later, it was decided that the song “Get Happy” would provide the necessary punch.

Everyone at the studio was on pins and needles. Her recording session a few days ago had gone well; she sounded better than ever as she belted out the number. Still, she seemed so weak and tired—how could she ever pull off this solo dance number?

Gene Marshall knew that her support on the set would mean so much to Judy. They had met at several parties and always found themselves off in a corner giggling like schoolgirls. Judy had been there to help Gene with her first musical, teaching her every vocal trick in the book. When Gene was having difficulty with the steps in the “Song of Spain” dance number, Judy secretly rushed over to Monolithic and broke the difficult routine into manageable parts. On set, everyone thought that Gene made it look effortless; little did they know that MGM’s top musical star had assisted in Gene’s success! Needless to say, Gene cleared her appointment book and headed over to the MGM soundstages.

Naturally, Gene had no problem getting through the security gate! Each guard waved and smiled at their favorite beauty from Monolithic. Sydney was there at the soundstage entrance and quickly ushered Gene in. He had already done Judy’s hair and she was about to do the first run-through. “Gene, I can’t believe it,” Sydney whispered to her. “This just can’t be the same plump little girl who went home exhausted a month ago. She’s slim, trim, and full of energy! You will be shocked when you see her!”

Sure enough, Gene’s jaw hit the floor when she watched Judy step out of her trailer and onto the set. She was thinner than she’d been in years, wearing only the top of a men’s tuxedo jacket and a matching black fedora hat. Her long legs were shown to full advantage as she practically strutted towards the male dancers that were in the number with her. Judy saw Gene and gave her a loving wink, happily acknowledging the support she was showing by being there on the set. The two had just enough time for a quick hug before Judy had to get to work.

Stay tuned for part 2! Follow my Gene Marshall updates on Twitter. See more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Moment Gene Knew

One of the things I was hoping most would come out of the Convention was some more background on Gene, especially what happened to her after she retired. I always wanted to know who the guy was that she fell in love with; it was often hinted at in the story cards from Ashton-Drake, but no name was ever given. I had hoped it was Trent; what a perfect couple! Here is a shot of the two, showing the moment Gene first knew she was in love with him. That’s my story and I'm sticking to it!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gene goes to Pasadena

Today, Gene visits the Huntington Library and Gardens located in Pasadena, California. Her outfit was custom-made by a talented lady named Judy who goes by the name "djkmro" on ebay. She is a great resource for new creations with a vintage feel that are affordably priced and very well made.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Gene Marshall: Calendar Girl/Midsummer Magic

This doll was my most recent acquisition in the Coca Cola series and marked the completion of my set. However, I ended up selling the doll as I figured my Integrity Gene redhead could fill in just as well...AND be a little more flexible in her posing! For my first photo, I put Gene in front of an original vintage Coca Cola ad that is located in Underground Atlanta.

From the story card:

“We’ll be ready for you soon, Gene!” The assistant director smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry it’s taking so long…”

Gene Marshall smiled back and held up her script.“Don’t worry—it gives me a chance to go over these script changes—and to have another Coca-Cola®!”

It was a warm midsummer day in California. Gene relaxed in her cool dressing bungalow, waiting for her call to the set of her latest picture, “Little Blessings.” Committing the script changes to memory, she suddenly felt as if someone was watching her study. Setting aside her script, she looked at the Coca-Cola calendar hanging on her wall. There, staring back at her, was an energetic-looking WAVE holding a bottle of refreshing Coca-Cola. her twinkling eyes seemed to invite Gene to join the fun!

See more Atlanta photos at my regular website. View more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gene, Chris Stoeckel, & Vertigo

From the moment I saw his work, I wanted to have a Chris Stoeckel design; perfect tailoring on authentically vintage outfits. This guy is a talent. Here you can see photos of my first commission, which was inspired by the Edith Head designs for Hitchcock’s movie “Vertigo.” If you are a Hitchcock buff, then you'll know that Hitch often put his blondes in gray, even though gray is not typically a great color for them. Especially in this movie, it worked well for the mysterious character of Madeleine Elster, expertly played by Kim Novak. Chris did a fantastic job of not only creating this outfit, but in picking out the perfect fabrics as well.

View more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gene Marshall: A Toast at Twelve

It took some patience and a lot of watching and betting on ebay, but I finally nabbed this circa 1949 classic which I thought was probably the most breathtaking Gene I ever saw when I first glimpsed a photo of this beauty. Oftentimes, the hairdo on the real doll doesn’t match the actual doll; fortunately in this case, the real thing was a gem as well. For this photoshoot, I placed Gene at Hearst Castle in San Simeon; can’t think of a better place to spend New Year’s Eve! From the story card:

It was three hundred and sixty-four days, eleven hours and fifty-nine minutes into 1949. A hush had fallen over the happy crowd at the New Year’s Eve party in the Grand Ballroom. The M.C. had asked Gene Marshall to join him onstage to call out the final seconds of the last decade and to lead the toast as the clock struck twelve.

People held their collective breath as Gene counted out the 1940s. “Five. Four. Three. Two. One! Here’s to all of you—and may the Fifties be, well, nifty!”

The crowd laughed at Gene’s clever wordplay—then raised their glasses to toast the new decade.

View more Gene Marshall & Friends photos at my regular website.