What Didn’t Make The Cut: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
It is no secret that Marilyn Monroe continues to make headlines today just as she did when she made her debut on the big screen back in 1953. Marilyn is arguably the most celebrated Hollywood actresses ever to grace the silver screen. Many of her films are well known and continue to entertain audiences today, just as they did 66 years ago such as: How To Marry a Millionaire, The Misfits, Niagara and the Seven Year Itch. Yet, none has been as unforgettable as Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Who could forget the famous musical number, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, sung by Marilyn Monroe? The lavish sets, the lighting, the jewelry (by jeweler, Harry Winston), and, most striking of all, the iconic pink dress worn by Marilyn. As some of you may know, this was the signature work of famed Hollywood costume designer William Travilla. However, it should be noted that this was not his originally intended costume design for the timeless musical we all have come to know and love today.
Above: The timeless and finished work by Travilla.
Originally, Travilla had designed and executed an all diamond encrusted showgirl outfit. Both the top and bottom portions of the costume consisted of diamond broaches that had been set into place by a professional jeweler as Monroe was wearing the costume. The costume cost nearly $4,000, a whopping sum at that time. However, because a a pressed-for-cash Monroe had posed nude for a calendar back in 1949, this irreplaceable work would never grace the big screen.
Above: The original costume set to debut before the resurfacing of Monroe’s nude calendar.
During the period of filming Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in 1953, the nude calendar resurfaced, causing a public scandal. The studio therefore abandoned their original costume design concept. Much to Travilla’s dismay, Fox was not going to take any chances on jeopardizing the career their new found starlet. Disappointed, Travilla redesigned the costume so that it would cover up Monroe enough to show she was a lady, yet accentuate her curves enough to show she was all woman.
Above: An intermediate design by Travilla that featured black gloves, shoes, and a lighter bodice. Eventually, this concept also was scrapped for an all pink ensemble.