3-D Pinup Girl
Ever since the 3-D deluge hit Hollywood, things have been spinning in a wild tizzy. What with polaroid glasses, CinemaScope and Cinerama, to say nothing of wide screens and curved screens, everybody has been concentrating on techniques and equipment. And some of the most valuable of all the equipment in Hollywood—the appealing curves of the film stars—has been coming in for extra close and extra careful scrutiny.
Would figures that were perfect in 2-D be able to pass the tough inspection of the double or wide-angle lens? Producers have been worried. Stars have been nervous. And fans have been in suspense.
A GI reader wrote Photoplay: “I for one am dying to see what such stars as Marilyn Monroe, Debra Paget, Mitzi Gaynor look like in 3-D. Boy, if they are as shapely as they are in 2-D films, then just you watch their stock boom!”
What does it take to be a 3-D pinup girl? Arlene Dahl was among the first to go on trial, in “Sangaree.” “This is a back-to-nature process,” Arlene announced. “The lighting on the set is so merciless that you must wear less make-up, look completely natural, because every detail will show up. And you don’t have to train down to ten pounds below your normal weight. Two-dimensional movies seem to add extra pounds by flattening your figure out, making it seem wider than it really is. But in three-dimensional movies the audience sees you just as you are.”
That was a terrifying prospect for actresses who’d been relying too heavily on cosmetics and camera flattery. The outlook was no happier for girls who’d been starving themselves to keep that ten pounds off. Amply curved Jane Russell was promptly hailed as a 3-D ideal: height, 5‘7”; weight, 135 pounds; bust, 38½”; waist, 25½”; hips, 38½”. On the other hand, Vera-Ellen (5‘4½”, 105, 33”, 21”, 33”) was urged to fatten up if she didn’t want to do a near-disappearing act in 3-D. Arlene, of course, had no problems. Her complexion needs no camouflage, and her figure is voluptuous enough for any number of dimensions: 5‘6½”, 118, 36”, 27”, 36”.
Marilyn Monroe (in case there was any doubt in your mind) also is excellently equipped for the new medium; and within the past year she has gaily let her famous hips expand an inch. (Up-to-date statistics: 5‘5½”, 118, 37”, 23½”, 37½”.) In “How to Marry a Millionaire,” CinemaScope’s wide, wide screen is going to show you an awful lot of Marilyn, while its curve brings you closer to hers. One scene, for instance, plumps her down on a chaise longue, and her reclining—and fabulous—figure seems to extend about half a block. Yet, this king-sized Marilyn looks slimmer than she does on the average-proportioned screen used for “Niagara.”
Just when the girls were getting ready to relax and throw away their reducing, menus, up came a word of warning from Helen Rose. As M-G-M’s chief designer, she wasn’t anxious to drape her beautiful costumes on a bevy of hefty honeys. “3-D is super-realistic,” she warned, “Overweight girls cannot rely on girdles to look trim. They can be a little heavier, but they will have to get themselves in genuine shape for the 3-D camera.”
So the diets have not been discarded, after all. If a girl is close to the new-style lens when a scene is shot, she’s going to land practically in the laps of the audience when it’s screened. Elaine Stewart, Metro’s brunette threat to Monroe, can face such short-range scrutiny with no fears. The same height as Marilyn, Elaine is constructed more delicately: 5‘ 6½”, 118, 34”, 25”, 36”. Preparing for her 3-Debut in “Lucky Me,” Doris Day (5‘5¾”, 116, 36”, 25”, 36”), always a fine, healthy figger of a girl, has shed four pounds. And Debra Paget (5‘ 2”, 104, 33”, 21½”, 35”) is a little less curvesome than she was a year ago.
Back in the days when Rita Hayworth was Aly Khan’s princess, she didn’t have to worry about her figure. Where Aly comes from, the men like their women well-upholstered. But before she could make her movie comeback, there had to be a good deal less of Rita. Dutifully, she brought herself down to camera weight. In recent months, she’s taken off another inch here, another there, and the tri-dimensional Hayworth of “Miss Sadie Thompson” is a neat 5‘ 6”, 120, 35”, 25”, 35”.
Luckily, newcomer Roberta Haynes didn’t try to look like a local lass when she locationed in Samoa for “Return to Paradise.” Like Aly, Samoan gents go for generous curves. In their eyes, trimly built Roberta (5‘ 3½”, 112, 35”, 24”, 34½”) was plenty of nothing. But her pleasantly average proportions are made to order for the depth photography of “Gun Fury.”
Even when a pinup queen has assured herself that her appearance will get by, her 3-D troubles still aren’t over. Ask Virginia Mayo, who finished “Devil’s Canyon” before approaching motherhood began to change the flawless Mayo figure (5‘ 5”, 118, 34”, 24” 34”). This Western movie had a weird effect on Virginia’s off-screen conduct. Sharing her first close-up with Dale Robertson, she looked at him as one would naturally do, only to find that in the 3-D rushes she seemed to be staring off into space. To avoid this uncomplimentary illusion, Virginia was told to look fixedly at one of Dale’s eyes—the one closest to the camera. This trick worked beautifully, as a look at the rushes proved.
The difficulty was. Virginia learned it too well. A few days afterwards, she began to notice that husband Mike O’Shea and their friends seemed acutely uncomfortable while talking with her. Finally, Mike got up abruptly one evening in the midst of a conversation. He walked out of the room; Virginia quietly followed him. She caught him standing in front of a mirror anxiously examining his left eye—which she had unconsciously been gazing at.
Once an actress has learned how to look lovingly at her leading man in 3-D, she encounters still another problem if she happens to be working in a musical. Any musical, with the arduous rehearsing its routines require, is rougher on its players than the average dramatic film. But if it’s going to be viewed through polaroid glasses, which have a slightly darkening effect, lighting on the set must be extra-brilliant. Rhonda Fleming (5‘6”, 118, 37”, 26”, 36½”) tackled “Those Sisters from Seattle” feeling fairly calm mentally—but keeping coo physically was another matter. “Red Garters” has Rosemary Clooney (5‘ 6½”, 118, 37”, 24”, 34”) sizzling under the lights.
The temperature’s more reasonable on the set of a musical being shot in CinemaScope, which requires no glasses. But when Mitzi Gaynor (5‘ 6‘, 112, 35½”, 23”, 37”) steps out in her first dance routine for the wide screen, she’ll have to keep in mind the increased range of the camera. The same concern got Terry Moore (5‘2”, 100, 35½”, 23”, 35”) rather rattled during her CinemaScope debut, “Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef.” In an early scene, Bob Wagner was supposed to chase her through a park, catch her and, after a tussle on the grass, kiss her. During the first rehearsal, Terry ran too fast. Next time, she was too slow. The third time, with cameras rolling, everything went beautifully. Wrestling on the grass, she turned and twisted her head to avoid Bob’s kiss. At that point, the co-stars were completely broken up when a fan watching through the park fence, cried out, “Oh, no! Terry, you fool, you!”
A reaction just about as implausible was required of Cameron Mitchell in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” There before him were all three of the comedy’s feminine stars, lined up for a simultaneous shot in the sweeping range of CinemaScope: luscious Marilyn Monroe in a low-cut red bathing suit; small, trim Betty Grable (5‘ 3½”, 112, 36” 23½”, 35½”) in a halter-bra and shorts; tall, lithe Lauren Bacall (5‘ 6½”, 119, 34”, 23½”, 35”) in a sexy evening gown. This magnificent display was supposed to leave Cam cold (it said here in the script). But when the cue came for his line of dialogue, he announced fervently, “I’ll take them all!”
“Cut!” said director Jean Negulesco. “Your line is “You haven’t got anything I want!”
“I know,” Cam admitted sheepishly. “But when I looked at these 3-D dames, I guess I just lost my head.”
—BY HILDEGARDE JOHNSON
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1953