Travilla

Birthday:
03/22/1920
Place of birth:
Los Angeles, California, USA :
Biography:
The man who draped a fringed Idaho potato sack on Marilyn Monroe for a famous snapshot - proving that she looked good in anything - was born on Catalina Island off the California coast on March 22 1920. He studied at the Chouinard School of Art in L.A., showing a precocious talent for drawing fashion design from an early age. By the time he was sixteen, he made money by selling sketches of costume designs for showgirls he had studied at burlesque houses. Found unfit for wartime duties due to flat feet, William Travilla made his way to Hollywood and signed his first contract as costume designer at Columbia in 1941. However, during his two-year tenure he received rather few assignments and left disillusioned. Little work came his way during the next few years, until, in 1946, he was spotted in a nightclub (selling travel sketches of the South Pacific) by the actress Ann Sheridan, who became an instant admirer of his work. Sheridan persuaded Travilla to become her personal costume designer at Warner Brothers. This didn't quite come to pass, though he did design her gowns for Nora Prentiss (1947). More importantly, he notched up his first major success by winning the Academy Award for the lavish and colourful costumes of Adventures of Don Juan (1948) in conjunction with Leah Rhodes and Marjorie Best. After his three year contract was up, Travilla went on to 20th Century Fox, for what would become the most productive period of his career in the film business. At the same time, he set up his own high end fashion salon, Travilla Inc., in Los Angeles, creating several collections of elegant, award-winning designs. Travilla dressed many established stars, from Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, to Loretta Young. However, he is chiefly remembered for the iconic gowns, designed for Marilyn Monroe's famous hourglass shape in eight of her most popular films. These include her sexy satin number from How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), the gold lame dress with the sun ray pleats glimpsed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and, subsequently, at the 1953 Photoplay Awards (over Travilla's objections); and, of course, the white cocktail dress famously uplifted above the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (1955). One of three versions of the latter sold at auction for $ 4.6 million in 2011. Despite their close working relationship, Travilla later went on record describing Marilyn on a personal level as 'childlike' and plagued by feelings of inadequacy. After his contract with Fox expired in 1956, Travilla tended to his own exclusive label, designing a collection of ready-to-wear 'California' fashion. In the 1960's, he continued to freelance, working primarily for television. He showed off a young Connie Sellecca to great effect in a murder mystery revolving around the fashion industry, fittingly titled She's Dressed to Kill (1979). Ever synonymous with a bygone era of glamour, he went on to win two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Costume Design for The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) and for Dallas (1978). An exhibition of his personal collection, under the auspices of his longtime collaborator William Sarris, went on a world tour in 2008.

Credits

She's Dressed to Kill
Costume Design
Valley of the Dolls
Costume Design
The Stripper
Costume Design
From the Terrace
Costume Design
Bus Stop
Costume Design
23 Paces to Baker Street
Costume Design
The Proud Ones
Costume Design
The Revolt of Mamie Stover
Costume Design
The Bottom of the Bottle
Costume Design
The Lieutenant Wore Skirts
Costume Design
The Left Hand of God
Costume Design
The Seven Year Itch
Costume Design
There's No Business Like Show Business
Costume Design
Black Widow
Costume Design
Broken Lance
Costume Design
The Raid
Costume Design
Princess of the Nile
Costume Design
River of No Return
Costume Design
Man in the Attic
Costume Design
How to Marry a Millionaire
Costume Design
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Costume Design
Pickup on South Street
Costume Design
Monkey Business
Costume Designer
Don't Bother to Knock
Costume Design
Viva Zapata!
Costume Design
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Costume Design
Rawhide
Costume Design
Bird of Paradise
Costume Design
American Guerrilla in the Philippines
Costume Design
Mister 880
Costume Design
The Gunfighter
Costume Design
The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady
Costume Design
The Inspector General
Costume Design
Dancing in the Dark
Costume Design
Adventures of Don Juan
Costume Supervisor
Two Guys from Texas
Costume Design
My Wild Irish Rose
Costume Design
Escape Me Never
Costume Design
The Unfaithful
Costume Designer
Nora Prentiss
Costume Design
The Beast with Five Fingers
Wardrobe Designer
Fiesta
Costume Design

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