John Singer Sargent dresses Rita Hayworth for “Put the Blame on Mame” 2

“The designer Jean Louis, supposedly inspired by John Singer Sargent‘s famous portrait of the décolleté Madame X, created for Miss Hayworth a fetishistic black satin strapless gown, with elbow-length gloves, and the dance director Jack Cole devised the strip-tease routine in which she flung those gloves to her audience.

The director, Vidor, expected the filming of “Put the Blame on Mame” would be difficult, but he was pleasantly surprised the moment Miss Hayworth appeared. “She sauntered on the stage holding her head high, in that magnificent way she does,” he said, “stepping long like a sleek young tiger cut, and the whistles that sounded who have shamed a canary’s convention. She enjoyed very second of it. Then she did that elaborate difficult ‘Mame’ number in two takes.””

Blurb taken from: City of Nets, A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s, by Otto Friedrich

2 thoughts on “John Singer Sargent dresses Rita Hayworth for “Put the Blame on Mame”

  1. Walter Lynn Mosley Jan 12,2012 1:11 am

    Sargent “corrected” the painting by putting the strap above the shoulder, making the painting more acceptable after the scandal of it’s appearance at the Salon. The original is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The later unfinished copy is in the Tate Museum. Sargent said of the original, “I suppose it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

  2. CatM Jan 11,2012 10:22 pm

    There’s an earlier version of Madame X with her strap down. That’s the one that made all the fuss at the exhibition. Sargent kept tinkering with his copies for years. There’s an even later “unfinished” version as well, but my favorite is the original. (Nerd rant over)

    I also remember a great story how Rita was directed to act with her hair, and apparently that made all the difference.

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