Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Shirley Projects, Pt. 2

It’s common knowledge what Shirley wore to the Oscars in 1935, based on photographic evidence. It’s also well documented what coat and hat she wore when she planted her feet into the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre the same year.

Yup...put her feet AND hands right here. Note Jane Withers, Shirley’s arch nemesis from “Bright Eyes,” in the upper left corner. It took Jane another four years after Shirley to get her block at Grauman’s!

What we DON’T know is what dress she wore under her coat at Grauman’s. So far, no photos have surfaced that would tell us that information. What we DO know is that when Shirley herself worked with the Danbury Mint many years ago to release a porcelain doll that commemorated that historic moment…

she chose to have the dress she wore to the Oscars as the one that came with the Grauman’s coat.

When it came up for auction in 2015, we learned what color it was. From the Theriault’s catalog:

A sleeveless peach silk crepe dress has narrow pleats falling fron the high waist and self-covered buttons down the yoke. Atop the sleeveless bodice is a pink pique jacket with diamond-point edging and puffed sleeves with matching trim. The dress is tagged "4757".

Danbury chose to make the entire ensemble the same color. Ho hum.

Recently, the R. John Wright company, known for their high-end felt dolls, announced their second Shirley Temple doll, titled “Hollywood Star.”

The Grauman’s outfit was spot-on; top-quality fabrics and a real ermine fur capelet. The website said the dress underneath would be the Oscar dress; instead of showing the doll-sized dress, they posted a shot of the actual dress Shirley wore from the auction site. At a doll convention (before the doll had been released, but at a point they had already collected money for pre-orders), Wright showed their first Shirley release along with “Hollywood Star” in two different versions, with varying prices. One had the Oscar dress with no coat (but an Oscar), and the other with just the coat and who knows what underneath.

Then abruptly the price disappeared as did the miniature Oscar on the middle doll.

I noticed at the same time on the Wright website that although the Oscar dress was still being shown…

the ad copy had removed any mention of the Oscar dress and just stated this:

I contacted Wright, who told me that “the family” had forbidden them from using the Oscar dress so the substitution had been made. Very quietly. Because the coat is attached with the Wright pin and not easy to unbutton, most of the people who bought this doll would probably never know exactly what was underneath unless they attempted to struggle to remove the coat. I noticed that recently, Wright did put a shot of what the dress looks like. Nice pleated dress...but not as detailed or intricate as the Oscar dress.

At this point, I decided to “plus” my Danbury Mint doll. I preferred the porcelain face over the felt, so I was good on that. While the fur and coat weren’t of the same caliber as the Wright version, they were good enough for me. I did two little upgrades. One was to remove the Danbury synthetic wig and replace it with mohair. MUCH better!

…and I dyed the Danbury Oscar dress bolero top to match the real one. I was one happy customer...and saved a ton-o-money in the process!

The only thing I need now is a Claudette Colbert doll!

See more Shirley Temple doll photos at my main website.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Shirley Projects, Pt. 1

In the final scene of Shirley Temple’s 1934 film “Bright Eyes,” she wears a cute cloche hat and coat set trimmed with foxtail tips. Ideal dolls manufactured this set for their 1930's composition doll in a corduroy fabric; the one I have is modeled by a 20" Shirley doll and I believe the trim is mink (or so I've been told by a fur expert!).

When this very outfit came up for auction in 2015, it was revealed that it was a peach/pink color. This made me like it even more! Here is the catalog description from Theriault’s:

Of a coral-rose wool, the coat has an unusual marble button and loop closure, cuffed sleeves, embroidery detail, and a stand-up collar with attached scarf having foxtail tips. Along with a matching cloche with foxtail tips trim. The coat has the label of "DeBetty Alden Shoppe Los Angeles". Generally excellent. The coat and hat were worn by Shirley Temple in the 1934 film "Bright Eyes".

I’m guessing the label actually says “Ye Betty Alden Shoppe,” as one can see the name of the shop in this vintage 1930 shot I found on the web:

Recently, a set for a 25" doll became available in an online auction without the fur trim. The price was very cheap and I said to Melissa (aka “The Colonel”) in one of our almost daily chats that it would be cool to attempt to dye it to match the screen-worn costume. A few days later, it arrived at my house! What a nice suprirse! Melissa LOVES projects (and so do I!), and this was one she wanted to see what I could do with it.

My first step was to attempt to even out the color of the garment by soaking it in Staintique. I would like to do that for the one I already have, but then I would need to remove the mink fur pieces, and I am not about to muck up the original stitching. Here was the result; much brighter!

Step 2 was dyeing the fabric. I picked Rit’s pink dye. Oops! I love pink, but this was definitely too deep.

A few weeks went by and I decided to try again, this time with Rit’s Rose Quartz color. SUCCESS!! I used RIT’s color remover powder; the deep pink coat barely touched the boiling bath with color remover and it was INSTANTLY white again! Cautiously, I dipped the garment into the Rose Quartz and voila! SUCCESS!

Dimitha on ebay sells doll-sized fur pieces, and I bought a set of ivory and brown mink for the trim. They worked PERFECTLY! I decided to go with the ivory set to more closely resemble Shirley’s screen-worn costume.

What do you think? Ready to give this a shot yourself?

See more Shirley Temple doll photos at my main website.