Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jean Louis Berthault, 1907-1997

Today marks the birth anniversary of Jean Louis Berthault. You probably wouldn't recognize the last name, largely because today's birthday boy didn't use his last name when working professionally. Under the name "Jean Louis", however, you probably do recognize him, as he showed up in the credits of dozens and dozens of movies from the 1940s through to about 1970, mostly as a gown designer Jean Louis was nominated about a dozen times, from Born Yesterday in 1950 to Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967. But of all the famous movies he did, it's interesting that Jean Louis won his only Oscar for a movie that's not as well known today: Solid Gold Cadillac. (Readers here will of course remember it as it's a movie I find delightful.)

One of the most famous non-nominated movies for which Jean Louis designed gowns is Gilda, with that black dress Rita Hayworth wore; in the Academy's defense, however, Costume Design was not yet a category at the time, only becoming a category in 1948. It's somewhat surprising that costume design wasn't honored before that since it really is an important part of the movies. Jean Louis also designed the dresses for Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, and famously designed the dress Monroe wore when she sang "Happy Birthday" to John Kennedy in an event that we get crammed down our throats to this day because of the media's love for all things Kennedy.

Jean Louis was married three times, becoming a widower after the first two marriages and then marrying actress Loretta Young, for whose 1950s TV show he had designed dresses, in 1993. That marriage lasted until his death in 1997.

No comments: