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Edith Head Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (23) | Personal Quotes (13)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 28 October 1897San Bernardino, California, USA
Date of Death 24 October 1981Los Angeles, California, USA  (bone marrow disease)
Birth NameEdith Claire Posener
Nickname The Doctor
Height 5' 1½" (1.56 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Edith Head was born on October 28, 1897 in San Bernardino, California, USA as Edith Claire Posener. She is known for her work on Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). She was married to Wiard Ihnen and Charles Head. She died on October 24, 1981 in Los Angeles, California.

Spouse (2)

Wiard Ihnen (8 September 1940 - 22 June 1979) (his death)
Charles Head (25 July 1923 - 1938) (divorced)

Trivia (23)

Her 35 Oscar nominations and 8 awards make her both the most honored costume designer and woman in Academy Award history to date.
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Cathedral Slope section, plot #1675.
Rarely did her own sketching because of her time schedule. Almost all sketches of "hers" one sees today were actually done by a devoted staff of sketch artists.
During the 1920s, she taught French and art at the Hollywood School for Girls.
On They Might Be Giants' 2001 album, "Mink Car", there is a song called "She Thinks She's Edith Head".
Was a close friend of actress Anne Baxter. She was godmother to one of Baxter's children.
A photograph of Miss Head working on a dress design appears on one stamp of a sheet of 10 USA 37¢ commemorative postage stamps, issued 25 February 2003, celebrating American Filmmaking: Behind the Scenes. The stamp honors costume design.
Received a master's degree in French from Stanford University in 1920
The Costume Department building on the Paramount lot is named after her.
The character "Edna Mode" in Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles (2004) was modeled on her.
Extremely diplomatic, she went out of her way to get along with co-workers and rarely gossiped. In later interviews, however, she mentioned that she did not enjoy working with Mary Martin, Claudette Colbert or Hedy Lamarr. In Paulette Goddard's case, she thought it was insensitive for the glamorous star to bring her bulging jewelry boxes to the studio workroom and tell her seamstresses (who were working for minimum wage) that they could "look, but not touch.".
Her trademark "sunglasses" were not "sunglasses" but rather blue lensed glasses. Looking through a blue glass was a common trick of costumers in the days of Black and White film to get a sense of how a color would photograph. Edith had a pair of glasses made out of the proper shade of blue glass to save herself from looking through a single lens. Her friends commonly would see her in regular "clear" glasses.
She is tied with composer Alan Menken for third most Academy Awards won. Each of them have eight.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 376-378. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Alumnae Initiate of Delta Zeta sorority, Mu chapter.
She is credited with putting Dorothy Lamour in her first sarong for "The Jungle Princess".
Her first job was as a teacher of French, Spanish and Art at the Bishop School for Girls at La Jolla, California. She got into films by answering a wanted ad as a sketch artist for Paramount. Edith worked there in that capacity under Howard Greer from 1924 to 1927. In 1928 she was promoted assistant to Travis Banton. From 1938 to 1966, she held the top job as Head of Design at Paramount, contributing in one way or another to over 1,000 motion pictures (supervising costumes for 47 films in 1940 alone).
Raised in the mining town of Searchlight, Nevada. Studied at the University of California, Berkeley. Attended the Otis Art Institute and the Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles.
The project she was most proud of was in the late 1970s when she designed a woman's uniform for the United States Coast Guard, in response to growing number of women in the service. She received the Meritorious Public Service Award for her efforts.
On October 28, 2013 - which would have been her 116th birthday - Google's homepage was a tribute to her.
An Edith Head costume exhibition was displayed at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in 2014.
Amassed 500 costume credits over her long career.
Was in shock when she didn't win the Oscar for "The Emperor Waltz" ("Joan of Arc" was the winner); sat through the remainder of the ceremonies 'in a state of stupor'.

Personal Quotes (13)

I've designed films I've never seen.
If it is a Paramount film, I probably designed it.
What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not. We ask the public to believe that every time they see a performer on the screen he's become a different person.
I have yet to see one completely unspoiled star, except for Lassie.
You can lead a horse to water and you can even make it drink, but you can't make actresses wear what they don't want to wear.
[1977 comment on Jacqueline Bisset] One of the greatest bodies I've ever worked with. But besides that she is rather the opposite, because she is so damned intelligent. It's a strange combination, almost a double personality.
[on Grace Kelly] I've dressed thousands of actors, actresses and animals, but whenever I am asked which star is my personal favorite, I answer, "Grace Kelly." She is a charming lady, a most gifted actress and, to me, a valued friend.
[on Kim Novak] I don't usually get into battles, but dressing Kim Novak for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) put to the test all my training in psychology.
[on viewing what many tanned actresses wore to the 1966 Academy Awards] I looked at all those white dresses and I thought we were doing a reprise of White Christmas (1954).
I never thought I did good work for [Cecil B. DeMille]. I always had to do what that conceited old goat wanted, whether it was correct or not.
[on winning her fifth Oscar, 1954] I'm going to take it home and design a dress for it.
[Her reaction to losing the 1956 Color Costume Award to Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)] Charles Le Maire is a good friend of mind and I would tell him to his face that his designs were blah compared to my gowns. All the costumes Jennifer Jones wore were chong sams, the traditional Chinese dress, which could have been purchased in Chinatown. That loss was the single greatest disappointment of my costume-design career.
[on "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid"] I guess I've come full circle when I design the exact dress for Steve Martin that I did for Barbara Stanwyck.

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