Wednesday, September 14, 2011

They Were Ready for Their Close-ups

I have a list of stylish movies that I want to profile on my blog, but lately I haven't had the time to watch them. (Capturing screen shots of a movie's interiors takes forever.) But, I did find an article in the April 1941 issue of House & Garden which featured the dressing and powder rooms in the homes of the leading movie stars of the day. Sounds like something that InStyle might feature today.

Anyway, the rooms are as glitzy as one might expect though they're actually not tacky at all. Look closely at the photos and you just might get a few ideas for your own dressing room.

Joan Bennett

The dressing room at the top of this post and the powder room above were in the home of actress Joan Bennett. Her mirrored dressing room was awash in seafoam green and pink which evidently matched her boudoir. The wallpaper and the chintz on the chair were the same pattern. The powder room, located downstairs in Bennett's home, was green and white striped. The floor was covered in hand-painted floral black canvas.

In 1941, Bennett shared this home with her husband, producer Walter Wanger. It's interesting to note that ten years later, Wanger shot and injured Bennett's agent, Jennings Lang, with whom Wanger believed Bennett was having an affair. Bennett denied the affair. Needless to say, it caused quite a scandal at the time. And to think that Bennett played the prim and proper mother in "Father of the Bride" and "Father's Little Dividend"!

Robert Montgomery

Only one masculine dressing room was featured in this article (although I would add that it's not terribly masculine): that of Robert Montgomery. His room featured photographs of fencers on the wall. (As it turns out, Montgomery was a fencer.) Note the mirrored corner.

Kay Francis

I have to admit that I usually like any Kay Francis movie that I see. That might be because most of them are a little tawdry. But, there is nothing tawdry about Francis' dressing room, one which H&G notes was carefully lighted to avoid casting any shadows on Francis' face.

Sam Jaffe

Of all of the dressing rooms featured in the article, that of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Jaffe might be my favorite. Yes, it's small, and I'm not so crazy about that frilly stool (it looks like it's wearing a petticoat.) But, I do like the use of mirror, not to mention the wall lined in Godey prints.

All images from House & Garden, April 1941.


  1. The Joan Bennett home was designed by architect Wallace Neff in the late 30s with a lot of input from Ms Bennett. He designed homes for many other Hollywood stars as well, but many consider this among his very best work.

  2. A clean bull-shot of glamour. Merci!

  3. LOVE this post!! And the fact that you're such an old movie buff. My family and I used to go every Friday to an old movie theatre in my (small) hometown where they only played movies from this era. I remember so little of the plots (I was young and easily distracted by the Milk Duds in my braces), but every set and costume is literally etched on my brain. Maybe that's where I get my personal aesthetic of cinched waists and heels. These pics are gorgeous relics of that golden age of glamour! I still can't get enough mirrored walls and dressing tables. (Check out my post on that.) I just might look for AMC on my cable. (Is it even a channel anymore?) Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Love this post. I think my favorite is Joan Bennett's, that floor is gorgeous. There is something about the stiped walls I am liking and did you say chintz?