Cary Grant

Mid-Century Modern – Vogue Magazine’s September Issue

Suzy Parker in Vogue Magazine, September 1957. Photo source: Vogue

Suzy Parker in Vogue Magazine, September 1957.

The September 1957 issue of Vogue Magazine was probably not the iconic behemoth that currently arrives at the newsstand with a thud each fall to profile and advertise the season’s couture. But the Conde Nast bible of style, then under the editorial directorship of Jessica Daves, had much to do with guiding the taste and flair of 1950s closets. With mid-century modern bringing back a neo-50s vibe, this editorial image of Suzy Parker from September, 1957 feels right at home with the trends of today (possibly minus the green fuzzy hat).

Texan redhead Suzy Parker was one of the first very-supermodels. In addition to her editorial work for fashion magazines, Parker frequently appeared in advertisements for cosmetics and other consumer products. She was the first model to earn over $100,000 per year. Suzy was also one of the first in a long line of fashion models who made the crossover to movies. Two films released in 1957 slated Suzy for small roles: Kiss Them for Me, with Cary Grant and Jayne Mansfield; and Funny Face, with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Fashion photography legends Richard Avedon, Horst P. Horst, and Irving Penn were inspired by Parker and their images, in turn, inspired 1950s women to pursue elegance with a flash of Texas sizzle. John, Paul, George, and Ringo – raging adolescents in 1957 – collectively wrote and recorded a tribute to Suzy in 1969, which was included in the soundtrack of the 1970 documentary, Let it Be.

Image Credit: Vogue Magazine

July 10, 1957 – Night at the Movies: “The Pride and the Passion”, or, “Loving You”?

On July 10, 1957, American filmgoers had two movie premiers to choose from: The Pride and the Passion, with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren; or Loving You, with Elvis Presley, Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell Corey.

The Pride and the PassionThe Pride and the Passion, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, was an adaptation of The Gun, by C. S. Forester.  The setting is Spain during the war with Napoleon, and British Captain Anthony Trumbull (Cary Grant) is on a mission to transport an abandoned cannon to the British lines.  Spanish guerilla leader and hothead Miguel (Frank Sinatra) hates Trumbull but signs on to help, bringing along the sultry Sophia Loren, playing his mistress Juana.  Anthony and Miguel fight for Juana’s affections on screen. Off-screen, Grant was said to be participating in the film to avoid wife Betsy Drake and Sinatra only signed on to be near his wife, Ava Gardner, in Spain herself on the set of The Sun Also Rises.

Opening to mixed reviews, The Pride and the Passion grossed 8.75 million to become one of the twenty highest-grossing movies of 1957.  Two quotes from reviews: “The panoramic, long-range views of the marching and terribly burdened army, the painful fight to keep the gun mobile through ravine and over waterway – these are major pluses,” from Variety; and “overblown, empty, epic nonsense,” from Ephraim Katz of The Film Encyclopedia.

Loving You, which premiered in Memphis and was released nationwide on July 30th, was Elvis’ second movie.  He played truck driver and undiscovered singer Deke Rivers who is “found” and promoted by Glenda Markle (Lizabeth Scott) who becomes his agent (essentially a female version of Colonel Parker).   Glenda sees a financial opportunity in signing Deke to open for her ex-husband Walter “Tex” Warner’s (Wendell Corey) down-and-out country band.  Deke becomes a singing sensation, especially with female members of the audiences, and finds himself attracted both to manipulative Glenda and to Tex’s young and innocent lead singer, Susan Jessup (Delores Hart).

Production on Loving You began January 21, 1957 and finished in early March.  Elvis had his naturally light brown hair dyed black for the film (inspiration: Tony Curtis) and, except during his military service and one brief period in the early sixties, he continued to color his hair for the rest of his life.  Director and screenwriter Hal Kantor spent research time at Presley’s “Louisiana Hayride” concert prior to filming what was orginally titled Lonesome Cowboy, then changed to Running Wild, and finally named Loving You after the song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for Elvis to perform in the movie.  Cameo appearances by Elvis’ parents, Vernon and Gladys, as audience-members, and casting of several of Presley’s current band members added to the promotion value of equating fictional Deke and real-life Elvis.  Loving You eventually rose to #7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Free Use; Paramount Pictures (imdb.com)

Vintage 1957 – Barbara Hutton Buys Cartier’s Tiger Clip Brooch

Purr-fectly gorgeous: Cartier Paris Tiger Clip Brooch

Purr-fectly gorgeous: Cartier Paris Tiger Clip Brooch

What would you do if you had all the money in the world?

Barbara Hutton came close. At the age of 12, she inherited $28,000,000 from her grandmother. By the time she turned 21, in 1933, her golden nest egg hatched into a $50,000,000 ticket to whatever her little heart desired.

Except, perhaps, love. As wealth generators, Franklyn Laws Hutton (co-founder of E. F. Hutton & Co.) and Edna Woolworth Hutton (daughter of Frank W. Woolworth, founder of F. W. Woolworth Company) went above and beyond, but as loving parents the word was that they fell woefully short. After a difficult and painful childhood, Barbara went on to marry seven times. Many of her husbands were abusive or exploitative. None of the marriages lasted more than three years (one, only 53 days) and all ended in divorce. The life of America’s “Poor Little Rich Girl” is a sad and cautionary tale.

There was (at least) one thing Barbara was very good at: appreciating fine design and craftsmanship in jewelry. Her taste and instinct for precious ornaments seems to have been in place from a very early age. Having the financial means to acquire and commission exquisite pieces, she went on to amass one of the most famous collections of the twentieth century. She established working relationships with the major jewelry ateliers of the world, including Cartier of Paris. Her first significant Cartier piece was a jadeite necklace given to her by her father on the occasion of her first wedding. She later commissioned a redesign of the clasp, replacing a simple diamond with a diamond and ruby circle. The contrast of ruby red artfully enhanced the string of hand-carved jadeite green beads.

In 1957, bucking the panther trend, Barbara purchased a beautiful, articulated (he could move!) Cartier Paris tiger clip brooch. The brooch was crafted from yellow gold, multiple single- and brilliant-cut, fancy intense yellow to near colorless diamonds, marquise-shaped emeralds for the eyes, and fancy-shaped onyxes for the stripes. She was married, at the time, to husband number six: German Baron Gottfried Alexander Maximilian Walter Kurt Freiherr von Cramm (such a mouthful!). Baron von Cramm was a former amateur tennis champion and non-cooperator with the Nazi regime. According to Jon Marshall Fisher, author of A Terrible Splendor, von Cramm married his old friend Barbara to “help her through substance abuse and depression but was unable to help her in the end.”

Cartier is once again in the news. The Paris Biennale des Antiquaires – an exhibition held every other year at the Grand Palais – is under way. The best of the best in art and antique jewelry (some from the house of Cartier) are on display until September 21st. The event is “the cream of European salons . . . . fine arts, antiques, and collectibles of museum quality are exhibited, but this is better than a museum,” touts the Biennale’s website. For those who attend, the affair is “where art lovers and collectors rub elegantly-clad elbows with dealers of international renown under the glass nave of the of the Grand Palais.” Barbara and her elegant elbows would have loved it.