Movie Costume Trivia

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Judy Garland had to wear a painful corset-style device around her torso in The Wizard of Oz so she would appear younger and flat-chested.

Bert Lahr's cowardly lion outfit in The Wizard of Oz weighed 90 pounds. It was made from two real lion skins.

Mae West had it written into her contract that nobody would wear white on the sets of her films.

In his will, Stan Laurel left his famous derby to Dick Van Dyke (Stan actually had more than one derby, but he did leave one to Van Dyke, which was a treasured possession to the TV star).

Bela Lugosi was buried in his legendary Dracula cape.

The battered hat worn by Henry Fonda in his Oscar-winning, final role for the movie On Golden Pond (1981) was actually Spencer Tracy's. Katharine Hepburn, who surprisingly had never met Fonda in the 50 years they had each spent in Hollywood, presented it to him the first day on the set.

The red jacket the legendary James Dean wore in his seminal role for Rebel Without a Cause (1955) was later given to his friend, Sammy Davis, Jr.

Actors must have loved Sammy Davis, Jr. he was also given "the" cowboy stetson hat worn by the great John Wayne. This is the light, tan-looking hat we see in so many of Wayne's classic westerns.

John Travolta's famous white suit he wore in Saturday Night Fever (1977) was purchased by movie critic Gene Siskel at auction. Siskel always considered it his proudest possession.

Western Costume in Hollywood is a fascinating place to browse around. It houses dozens of classic outfits and wardrobes from great, classic films. Western Costume got their big break in 1914, when business was slow. Director D.W. Griffith was filming his legendary Civil War epic Birth of a Nation. Griffith wanted his huge cast of soldiers clothed in authentic Civil War uniforms. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that the progress in nutrition over 50 years since 1865 had made the average actor of 1914 unable to fit into a soldier's uniform of the 1860s.

The largest number of costumes in any one film is 32,000 (!!!!!) for Quo Vadis (1951).

Cleopatra (1963), Elizabeth Taylor's famous box-office flop, used 29,000 costumes.

The most costume changes in a silent film was by the movie's first sex symbol, Theda “The Vamp" Bara, who changed costumes 50 times in 11 reels in her original version of Cleopatra in (1917).

But the all-time record for costume changes in one movie is 85 by Madonna in Evita (1996). This included 39 hats, 45 pairs of shoes, and 56 pairs of earrings.

If one looks very carefully at the clothes hangers used in a scene from the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night (1964), one can spot the lettering logo of the Plaza Hotel in New York. Apparently, the boys had "borrowed" these clothes hangers from their famous stay at the Plaza a few weeks previously, when they first arrived in America.

Groucho Marx always used a painted-on mustache in his films, instead of wearing a fake one or growing his own. This came about one day, when Groucho arrived late for a stage performance. In a hurry, instead of gluing on his usual phony mustache, he just smeared some black greasepaint on instead. He noticed that no one else noticed. And he also noticed that the laughs were just as big, so he kept the greasepaint on his upper lip in the Marx Brothers' films.

The horn we all see Harpo Marx carrying around in the Marx Brothers movies has a simple genesis. It was simply a horn he stole off a taxi cab. He used it on stage one night as a joke and it got a huge laugh, so Harpo kept it with him his entire career. Since he couldn't talk in his movies, it gave him a new way to communicate.

The Wizard of Oz costumes and props sold at auction and the price they fetched:
The Wicked Witch's hat- $450.00
The Wizard's suit- $650.00
Dorothy's gingham dress- $1,000.00 (cheap!!!)
The Cowardly Lion's costume- $2,400.00
Dorothy's ruby slippers- $15,000.00 There were more than one pair of the ruby slippers, and these are usually considered to be the "prize of prizes" to movie collectors.

One definitely assumes that had these items been sold in current times, on Ebay, they would have fetched much higher bids.

Newest 3
Newest 3 Comments always have such great and interesting articles! So for $5,000 you could have owned Garland's dress, Witch's hat, the lion's costume and the Wizard's suit. Today...easily worth over a mil!! Easily.
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