The 80th Oscars aren’t until Feb.24, 2008, but producer Gil Cates is already thinking “glamorous.” He tried to get Fred Hayman to return as fashion coordinator — he’s done 12 shows, but Fred politely declined.
“It’s a great honor,” he admitted. “but I wouldn’t want to work that hard again.” Also, the new stylist world, he said, addresses a new look at dressing Oscar show participants — presenters, nominees, space-seekers, just plain onlookers. Hayman recalls having to buy the wardrobes and the designers creations for the show.
For a look at today’s no-holds-barred wardrobe wars, read Dana Thomas’ “Deluxe — How Luxury Lost Its Luster” (Penguin Press). She says, “The power and the money involved in dressing celebrities in luxury brands has brought out a frightening ruthlessness among stylists.” She further states that “some ask their celebrity clients to reimburse purchases of luxury goods that were actually gifts from the houses, or neglect to tell their clients about the gifts and then resell them and pocket the cash.”
One more note about the Oscars of yore from Fred Hayman. He complimented another Oscar show producer, Allan Carr, for having brought glamour back to the show, and who was sadly and unfairly maligned for his attempt.
Talking about glamorous wardrobe, get a copy of “The Way We Wore” by Marsha Hunt. It’s a breathtaking look back at her wardrobe by the studio’s top designers for her films in the ’30s and ’40s. Hunt will be 90 on Oct. 17. She will be celebrated with screenings of eight of her MGM films on TCM, starting at 3 a.m. and a screening on Oct. 20 of “A Letter for Evie” (1946) at the Fine Arts Theatre at 8556 Wilshire Blvd. Hunt was blacklisted and her last film was “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. But she appears in a new film “The Grand Inquisitor.” And she has produced a CD, “Songs from the Heart,” sung by Tony London with the Page Cavanaugh Trio. One of the tunes is “Life is a Swing” and Hunt, at 90, is still swinging.
Fred Hayman and I were also lamenting the news that the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador hotel, one of the landmark’s last standing sections, is to be torn down as the site becomes a school. Hayman was general manager of the hotel in the ’50s, having segued over from the Beverly Hilton and before he became Mr. Rodeo Drive with his Giorgio’s. He had seen the crème de la crème of nitery performers on that stage — as did I — up to its last physical transformation by Sammy Davis Jr. There had been lavish and expensive plans to renovate the 28 acres — they would have changed the whole look of that gridlocked Wilshire area today. But then again, what isn’t gridlocked in L.A. today?