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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tape and Liberace

Photo #1

This is a little quiz!

Photo #2

Oh don't be cynical. Everyone loves a quiz!

Photo #3

It will be fun . . . 

Photo #4

And there may be prizes! 

Nothing makes you look older than attempting to look young.
- Karl Lagerfeld

The question is, what do these four photos have in common?

And 1 million March Matron bonus points if you recognize the guy in Photo #1. 

Granted, those photographed have all been on the silver screen . . . but I'm looking for something else. 

Did you recognize the ultra creepy guy? 

Photo #1
Rob Lowe in Behind the Candelabra.

Seriously . . . Rob Lowe.

Yep. This Rob Lowe.

Photo #2
Marlene Dietrich, 43 years old,
in Kismet.

Photo #3
Cyd Charisse, Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe,
in Something's Got to Give.
(Marilyn died before the film was finished.)

Photo #4
Jennifer Lopez,
at the 42nd Grammy Awards.

Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich

Another hint about the commonalty?

It involves the use of an item for temporary body modification . . . kind of try before you buy in the plastic surgery department.

The answer is tape.

Yep, Tape.

I'm having surgery today to have my face cleaned up.
But it will take some fancy stitching to make me beautiful again.
- Patsy Cline

The Cryodon Facelift . . . 

Marlene Dietrich (1901 to 1992), like most celebrities, underwent a few beautification procedures.

During her time, plastic surgery had improved thanks to the ongoing global production of young men with disfiguring injuries, but outcomes were still uncertain.

Marlene settled for having her upper molars removed to make her cheekbones appear more prominent.

Marlene is credited with popularizing what is now called the Croydon Facelift, a derogatory term, attributed to lower class women, who favor a severe hair arrangement which pull back facial sag.

Marlene would twist strands of her hair around hairpins and pull the pins to the back of her head, erasing facial wrinkles and limiting facial expressions.

However, what we want to know about is the diversity of tape.

After having patches of hair detach from her scalp, Marlene turned to surgical tape to eradicate facial wrinkles.

I imagine the Detrich offspring would have been thrilled if they held the patent for the tape and elastic facelift combo.

Plastic surgery is horrifying. Those women look weird.
They look in the mirror and think they look great
[but]they scare small children.
- Jerry Hall

Perky . . . 

Next up is an accounting of substantial animosity . . . with a tangential tape component but nonetheless an interesting story.

In 1963, 20th Century-Fox was apparently attempting a spectacular company-wide implosion. Cleopatra was behind schedule and over budget . . . like really, really over budget, not in the least part because Elizabeth Taylor was a nightmare to work with. When the dust settled, the film created a $44 million loss (equivalent to $340 million in 2016).

Actors are paid to be selfish and self-involved.
- Michael Douglas

However, prior to the settling of dust, some company executive thought it was a good idea to make a film with the actress who was more difficult than Taylor and Burton combined.

Marilyn clearly had some nip and tuck action on her face but she was a genius at wardrobe manipulation, body motion, lighting and understanding camera angles.

She had dresses designed that were so form fitting, a seamstress was at hand to sew her into and then cut her out of wardrobe.

Your clothes should be tight enough to show you're a woman
but loose enough to show you're a lady.
- Marilyn Monroe
(Not to quibble, but where is the "loose" portion?)

The garment restrictions exaggerated her hip-swinging ambulation while sacrificing some minor mobility options like sitting down.

Will you look at that! Look how she moves!
It's like Jell-O on springs.
- Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot

In addition to favoring apparel that required an on set seamstress, she was also adept at sheer costuming. Lighting, strategically placed embellishments and nude fabrics kept her just within decency laws.

Marilyn Monroe taking time off from the already delayed shooting schedule of
Something's Got To Give
to sing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy

Marilyn's dress, which cost $12,000 to manufacture and sold at auction in 1999 for $1.26 million, and brings us to the topic of tape.

If I want to put my tits on my back, 
it's nobody's business but my own.
- Cher

Underwear of the time was adept at restricting, enhancing, and lifting . . .

At one studio, when stars were called to take sweater-girl publicity photos, they passed around what was termed the "Bullet Bra".

But the foundation pieces available were also inflexible, bulky and covered large sections of areas Marilyn was not interested in covering.

During the publicity shots for The Seven Year Itch, the producer joked that he had just doubled the number of panties Marilyn owned.

Side stepping panty lines and bra straps, Marilyn became a master of tape adhered padding and lift.

To promote a "perky" silhouette, she would also attach two marbles, in a strategic location, inside her dresses.

At some point during filming, Marilyn became convinced that Cyd Charisse was adding inches to her bust during the bedroom scenes.

She complained to the producer and demanded that her costumes be re-cut so she could compete with her co-stars expanding chest.

The producer countered that it would be impossible to pad for a nightgown.

Marilyn accused him of ludicrous naiveté and insisted that the padding fakery end or that she be included.

In a final act to outdo the publicity generated by the star of Cleopatra, Marilyn shot a skinny dip scene without tape or apparel, flesh colored or otherwise.

Marilyn posed for publicity photos, asking that the photographers produce an image that would replace Elizabeth Taylor on every magazine cover.

An enormous, but short lived victory.

The Nip Slip . . . 

While it is fairly evident that decency laws have changed since Marilyn's time, new concepts of wardrobe has escalated tape demand.

Specialty, double sided adhesive options have diminished the overwhelming odds of exposure.

However, among many other incidents, Ms. Lopez flashed audiences at two separate performances while wearing the Zuhair Murad jumpsuit.

May I suggest more tape?

Behind the Candelabra . . . 

We've finally made it to the genesis of this post!

Behind the Candelabra is a production based on the tell all book by Scott Thorson, Liberace's much younger companion.

Liberace successfully sued the London "Daily Mirror" in 1959
after it published an article calling him "fruit-flavored."

Not being a Liberace fan, or much of a Douglas fan, I had minimal expectations but script, actors, costuming and set designs created a glittering conglomeration of decadence.

In May 2013, Scott Thorson received a little less than $100,000 for his participation with the HBO movie, and spent the funds, "in about two months, mostly on cars and jewelry."

Michael Douglas was cast as Liberace, an unlikely decision and a replacement for Robin Williams who had agreed to the role.

Matt Damon, in his early 40s, played a 17 year old Scott Thorson, and Robe Lowe, a disturbing version of Dr. Jack Startz, a Hollywood ears, nose, and throat specialist who branched out into plastics.

Scott sued Liberace in 1982 for $110 million in palimony. In 1987 he settled for $95,000.

You can have either the Resurrection or you can have Liberace.
But you can't have both.
- Liberace, Radio City Music Hall, Easter show

Plastic surgery features heavily in the story, starting with Liberace watching himself on The Tonight Show.

Oh my Christ, I look like my father!
I look like my father in drag!
I look like my father in Hush Hush sweet Charlotte!

The hairdresser who styled Liberace’s wigs recommended Dr. Jack Startz.

Why don't I just step out and slip into something more spectacular?
- Liberace

In addition to his own surgeries, Liberace paid for Scott to transform into a younger version of the entertainer.

I made my greatest contribution to motion pictures years ago.
I stopped making them.
- Liberace, 1983 Academy Awards

Liberace started paperwork to adopt the 20 year old Scott. Per the tell-all account, spats became more frequent and Liberace would take verbal jabs.

Please don't be unhappy.
I can't stand it when you have a face like that,
especially after the money I paid for it.

However, Rob Lowe's transformation was particularly amazing in part because it was achieved with an old fashioned, Dietrich-esque facelift.

I didn't get dressed like this to go unnoticed.
- Liberace

I am now a believer in face tape, and should I start to care how I appear while doing my job of caring for seniors, I will consider tape before scalpel.

When Liberace opened Las Vegas' Riviera Casino-Hotel in 1954, he was the city's highest paid entertainer. His New York City performance at Madison Square Garden
earned him a record $138,000 (equivalent to $1,220,000 in 2016) for one performance. His live shows during the 1970s-80s would net $300,000 a week. 

Liberace, at 67, died of complications related to AIDS. At the time of his death, in 1987, he was worth over $110 million.

Arriving at the conclusion of this post, I have to confess, I do not have a quiz based prize. 

However, if nothing else, I hope that should you perform in a costume of high risk for flashing an audience, you will remember to have lots of tape on hand.

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