Hollywood Does To A Ball
There’s one thing about Hollywood parties—the more successful they are, the more to talk about afterward. By such standards, Photoplay’s Gold Medal Awards dinner in the Crystal Room of the luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel can be tagged as one of the greatest.
It was an evening that had everything. There was laughter—over Gold Medal winner Rock Hudson’s breaking into a beet-red blush. There were tears—joyous ones shed by Barbara Stanwyck when hundreds of stars stood up to applaud her.
There was glamour—running the gamut from lovely Deborah Kerr to oomphy Jayne Mansfield. There were gorgeous gowns and glittering jewels—enough to turn even Dior and Gabor green with envy. There was even a bit of Shakespeare—recited by that one-time butcherboy, Ernest Borgnine, who did a great job as master of ceremonies.
And there was Kim Novak, the other Gold Medal winner, who simply floated in on a purple cloud. She was gowned in yards and yards of sheer chiffon, styled and draped by Marlene Dietrich’s favorite designer, Jean Louis.
Just to prove that she really likes the shade, Kim also wore little purple chiffon gloves, purple hose, purple satin pumps with rhinestone buckles and a silver-blue mink stole lined with—you guessed it—purple satin.
“Jean Louis created the gown for tonight,” she explained. The bateau neckline was cut. rather high in the front and the sleeves extended right down to her wrist. “Did you notice the back?” Kim asked. There wasn’t a man or woman in the room who didn’t. The reason was, the dress didn’t have any—it was bare down to the waist, where two jeweled pins appeared to be holding it together.
It was a big night for Miss Novak and an almost bigger one for her proud father who was visiting from Chicago. It was Joseph Novak’s first Hollywood party.
While Kim was posing for the newsreel cameras, Mr. Novak was asked if he’d like to take a seat. “Oh, no,” he replied, just barely audible, “Barbara Stanwyck is over there getting her picture taken and that’s who I really want to see.” His daughter almost forgotten, Mr. Novak grinned happily as he acknowledged introductions to Vera Miles and her husband Gordon Scott, little Natalie Wood and her escort Bob Wagner, and finally Miss Barbara Stanwyck. Touching was Kim’s acknowledgement of her father’s presence when, in accepting her Gold Medal, she asked that the spotlight be focused on “the man who made all this possible, my best beau for the evening—my father.”
(Incidentally, soon after Kim got her Photoplay Gold Medal she was voted top female star of the year by movie-goers in forty-eight countries, winning the Golden Globe of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Not only was Kim chosen for the honor, but all six newcomers picked by the Foreign Press were among our new star winners).
Rock Hudson drew a big hand just by blushing. Director George Sidney thanked Photoplay for his certificate. Then he quipped, “I also want to thank the editors for seating Mrs. Sidney where she can gaze at Rock Hudson.”
Everyone laughed. Rock, who was seated on the dais in full view of the 500 guests, turned pink. At this, the friendly laughter and the applause increased. So did Rock’s blush. Producer Charles Schnee followed Sidney to the microphone. He thanked Photoplay for seating Mrs. Schnee “where she could not gaze at the handsome Mr. Hudson.”
Again the laughter and again the blush. But Rock proved pretty fast with a quip himself when he was presented with his Gold Medal later in the program. After his brief but sincere little thank-you speech, he said, “And I also wish to thank Mrs. George Sidney.”
One guest pointed out, “It’s nice to know there are stars who can still blush.”
Barbara Stanwyck and Deborah Kerr received tremendous applause. Deborah was gracious and charming in a softly draped floor-length chiffon gown. The pale cinnamon shade blended nicely with her short red tresses. The spontaneous applause had Deborah in tears.
Barbara’s cocktail-length pink dress was of French peau de soir. She’d had it designed especially to wear with three fabulous gardenia-shaped diamond pins. With these she wore matching diamond earclips and a beautiful diamond ring, slightly smaller than a breadbox.
Barbara was deeply touched by the standing ovation accorded her as she was presented the Photoplay Achievement Award. She recognized it as a great tribute from her friends and co-stars.
As she was about to take her seat, Barbara was faced with what appeared to be a walking flower shop. She was first handed a huge bouquet of red roses, next came a bower of yellow ones, then an armful of pink ones, followed by another armful of gardenias and, finally, a mixed bouquet. Miss Stanwyck was not only touched, she was practically smothered.
One of the bouquets signed “Golden Boy” came from Bill Holden, who wasn’t able to be present but had cabled a florist from Ceylon. Another was from Bob Wagner, also a staunch Stanwyck fan. One card was simply signed “Bob.” There was some speculation as to whether this was a sentimental gesture from Robert Taylor. Needless to add. nobody asked Barbara.
Debbie and Eddie arrived hand in hand like a couple of sweethearts instead of an old married couple. Eddie who favors elaborate evening shirts—he has twenty-two, some with ruffles and embroidered eyelets—was very conservatively dressed for the party. His shirt had a plain white front, though star sapphire studs helped relieve the austerity.
Debbie also pulled a sort of fashion switch. instead of the darling fluffy-type gown she usually chooses, she wore a sleek, almost sophisticated black number with latticework top. The only touch of color was a huge pink rose, perched bustle fashion just below the waistband.
Debbie’s hairdo was youthful and perky, thanks to the help of her favorite M-G-M hairdresser who made a mad dash to the Fisher home an hour before the party. In front he created fluffy bangs and at the back a couple of strands of pearls through heavy braids piled high on the head to keep the hair in place. How she felt when Felicia Farr, on the arm of Jack Lemmon, turned up wearing the same hairdo, Debbie was too polite to say. For teenagers who like to be in on a fad, this shows how Hollywood likes to go along with one, too.
Before the dinner, the guests gathered for cocktails in the hotel’s Rodeo Room where Natalie Wood was kept busy showing friends her unique silver-blue mink stole. “It’s called a ‘one-arm bandit.’ It has sort of a sleeve into which I slip one arm, then I wrap the rest of it around me. To tell you the truth, I’ve got to practice with it a little more at home so that I can slip into it gracefully in public.”
Natalie’s date, Bob Wagner, looked as confused as any male about such fashion problems. However, it was apparent that he approved of her stunning new Dior gown. So did a lot of women in the room.
Miss Wood’s black velvet dress was floor length. Pleated ice-blue satin formed a sort of pouf at the strapless bustline, then continued in a stunning slash down the front of the gown. Natalie matched this with ice-blue satin slippers. The chic outfit gave the petite brunette the appearance of being taller than she is. “That’s the idea,” she admitted.
Incidentally, Natalie’s streak of yellow through her coal-black hair lent a sophisticated touch that seemed unnecessary in such a youngster—and instead of the usual vivaciousness of young adulthood, Natalie wore an air of weary worldliness. Even escort Bob Wagner was having a tough time getting a smile out of her.
Honors for the most bouffant gown would have to go to Vera Miles. The lovely blonde looked like something off a Swedish wedding cake in yards and yards of white nylon tulle. Vera’s hair, which has been lightened to a pale moonlight shade for her new Hitchcock picture with Jimmy Stewart, was swept back from her forehead into a chignon effect. She wore a simple little necklace, but no other jewelry.
“I feel very uncomfortable with a lot of trinkets hung on me,” Vera said. “If I had my way, I’d never wear any other jewelry than my wedding ring and a plain pair of pearl earrings.”
Vera explained that her beautiful gown was the creation of Paramount designer Edith Head. “But I don’t think she counted on my tripping the light fantastic,” the actress remarked as she eyed the crowded dance floor. “This skirt is just too full for me to navigate out there.” Vera’s husband, Gordon “Tarzan” Scott, agreed.
Those old married folks, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, had a great time, in spite of the fact that Janet was still wearing a cast on her broken left arm. But it wasn’t noticeable, thanks to a clever black velvet sleeve piece which matched her stunning velvet sheath. Leave it to Mrs. Curtis to turn a bandaged arm into an entrancing fashion touch.
Someone pointed out it was as interesting to watch Janet ankle away as it was to watch her approach. Her snug full-length gown was slit almost up to the knees in the back. A black velvet bow attached just above bobbled with every step. Janet’s coiffure was intriguing, too. Her blonde tresses were swept across the back and secured on one side with three rhinestone pins.
Speaking of hairdos, Margaret O’Brien drew plenty of stares with the new one she was sporting. Maggie’s growing up and she wants everyone to know it. She dumped her usual pony tail and soft ringlets for a simple pageboy effect, combed straight down. She added another glamour touch—a sprinkling of silver glitter stuff over her dark hair. It was also scattered on her bare shoulders.
Ginger Rogers was there in a shocking-pink satin gown which verified the fact that she still has one of the best figures in Hollywood.
Paul Newman arrived with young 20th Century-Fox actress Joanne Woodward. Paul’s close pals predict a marriage for these two as soon as his divorce comes through. The Woodward-Newman romance had been rumored for some time, but the Photoplay dinner was their first public appearance together.
Joanne, who’s starring in “The Three Faces of Eve,” wore a low-cut black chiffon dress with “spaghetti” shoulder straps. Her blonde hair was swept into a smooth bun atop her head. But that short, straight fringe of bangs remained on her forehead. This style, which originated with the New York actresses, seems to be catching on in Hollywood.
Nobody, but nobody, missed Jayne Mansfield’s entrance. You don’t need 2020 vision to spot this girl. Jayne wore a skintight white gown. It was cut down to there in the back and down to here in the front. The dress was fashioned of fine white wool, embroidered all over with white silk braid and beads. Jayne’s sparkling blue earrings were almost the size of the beautiful chandeliers which decorate the Crystal Room. She carried a fox stole dyed pale blue, which was often casually dragging on the floor.
The folks who raise their eyebrows at Jayne’s respect for publicity should be half as cooperative and appreciative as this girl is. Many stars who like to see their photos in print still complain if they have to spend more than a couple of seconds posing for them. Jayne and Mickey Hargitay not only cheerfully pose for numerous shots at such functions, they always remember to thank the lensman.
Mickey, resplendent in a broad-shouldered tuxedo and a white brocade-type shirt, stayed right by Jayne’s side.
Joan Collins, escorted by actor Bob Quarry, received plenty of admiring glances. Her dark hair was combined into a fluffy mass around her face. She wore a strapless pale blue satin dress with a tight bodice and full skirt. Huge rhinestone buckles decorated her matching satin pumps. But Joan’s large dangling earrings weren’t rhinestones. They were real diamonds—“a present from me to me,” she quipped.
Shirley Jones, looking more sophisticated than usual in a dark dress, introduced husband Jack Cassidy to some of her Hollywood pals. Anne Francis, in black chiffon and pearls, came with actor Norman Dupont. Kathryn Grant, who’s avoiding romance since her split-up with Bing Crosby, was escorted by Gil Banks, her eighteen-year-old friend from Texas. Kathryn begs everyone to forget she was once called “Kathy.” “Gil’s practically a kid brother to me,” Kathryn explained. “He’s the son of a close family friend—the woman I’ve always called ‘Aunt Mary.’ I thought he’d have fun seeing everyone.”
Kathy—oops, Kathryn—who is so much thinner these days, wore a full-skirted pale pink satin gown, something she never would have worn with Bing. He preferred her in more tailored duds.
Katy Jurado turned plenty of heads when she arrived in a fabulous white Jacques Fath creation with matching full-length coat. Katy admitted she’d really splurged on the outfit. “The whole thing cost $1.000,” she said. “But it’s so beautiful, I just couldn’t resist it.”
A tiny bright red heart decorated Katy’s chest above the strapless bustline. “I painted it with nail polish to cover a little cigarette burn,” she confided.
The youngest and cutest couple in the room were thirteen-year-old Mannie Manheimer and Alan Ladd. Mannie’s the son of Photoplay publisher Irving Manheimer and Alana’s father is a good-looking actor you may have heard of—Alan Ladd. Alan and Sue also were present.
Pat Boone helped end the party with a big bang. Pat was asked to sing at the end of the program. As he looked over the celebrity-packed audience, he said, “If you want to know the truth, I’m going to act as well as sing—I’m acting like I’m not scared.” He grinned as he added, “Boy, am I shaking inside!”
Pat needn’t have worried. His natural charm and talent immediately won over the audience. He was a big hit, and when he finished up with a hot rock ’n’ roll number, everyone in the room clapped and stamped their feet. And Eddie Fisher rocked the most.
The crystal chandeliers were still swaying as everyone headed home. It was a marvelous evening, and many of the guests echoed Miss Novak’s parting remark, “It was so nice, I can hardly wait until next year’s dinner.”
We wager that if the fans have anything to say she will be there.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MAY 1957