Hair to dye for

Classic film stars are known for their impeccable style and flawless looks. But like everyone else, they didn’t always look perfect.

One thing that I am very aware of on movie stars and in daily life is a bad dye job. Here are a few actresses that suffered from bad hair color changes in films or changed their look that helped state their career.

Some of these hair color made and broke careers.

Cyd Charisse in “Band Wagon” and “Two Weeks in Another Town”

Through the main part of Cyd Charisse’s career, she was brunette.  The dark hair opening up Hispanic roles like in “Sombrero” and “Fiesta” or as a Native American in “The Wild North.” However, as her career began to wind down in the 1960s Cyd started styling her hair with blonde highlights that she wore until her death, a style that didn’t look bad on her. However, Cyd Charisse did not look good with red hair in “Two Weeks In Another Town (1962).  I think it’s safe to assume though, that more people look at Cyd’s legs rather than her hair.

Doris Day in “Romance on the High Seas” and “It’s a Great Feeling”

Doris Day is known for her sunny demeanor and blond locks.  But in the comedy “It’s a Great Feeling” (1949), we get to see what brunette Doris would’ve looked like. In the film Doris is desperately trying to land a job as an actress. To trick a producer she dresses up like a French woman with a brown wig and sings “At the Cafe Rendezvous.” Later she is brunette again wearing the above outfit in a dream sequence singing “There is Nothing Rougher Than Love.” I don’t think Doris looks bad as a brunette, but I prefer her as a blonde.

Dorothy Malone

In my opinion, Dorothy Malone looked prettiest with her natural brown color, however her career didn’t take off until she dyed her hair blonde in 1956 for “Written on the Wind” and started playing bad girl roles in movies.  Prior to this she played small or forgettable parts in movies like “Janie Gets Married” (1946),  “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948) or -the role that got her noticed-the sexy library in “The Big Sleep.”

Eleanor Parker

Eleanor Parker is another example of role types changing with hair colors. A natural red-head, Parker started her career playing in war-time comedies and romances in the 1940s, such as “The Very Thought of You” (1944), “Never Say Goodbye” (1947)  and “Pride of the Marines” (1945).  She was beautiful, fresh-faced, sweet and gave heartfelt performances. With the dawn of the 1950s, Parker’s roles started to change- with prison drama “Caged!” (1950) catapulting her into disturbed women and bad girl characters. Her hair was dyed blonde in a few films, particularly ones that she was up to no good. Movies like “Detective Story” (1951), “Lizzie” (1957) and “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955) showed a different side of Parker. Though she still made some lighter films, they weren’t the same heartwarming movies from the 1940s. In my opinion, red-hair Eleanor Parker is much prettier than blonde Parker, which really washes her out.

Jane Russell

Jane Russell was a natural brunette but went red in “The Revolt of Mamie Stover” (1956) and blonde in “Fuzzy Pink Nightgown” (1957). She’s perfect with her natural color, but red doesn’t look that bad. However, Russell’s blonde hair is about as bad as the film she had it in.

Jeanne Crain

Jeanne Crain is another sweet 1940s sweetheart with natural brown locks who starred in light, family comedies like “State Fair” (1945), “Margie” (1946) or “Cheaper By the Dozen” (1950).  However,  younger actresses like Terry Moore and Jean Peters were signed to 20th Century Fox and replaced actresses like Crain and Betty Grable, according to Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. In 1953, Crain dyed her hair red, hoping to appear sexier and get sexy, young roles to help boost her career. But this didn’t work out for her.  She continued acting in films until the 1960s, but nothing overly notable. Her only sexy role was in “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” (1955) with Jane Russell. I really hated when Jeanne Crain dyed her hair red. I think it looks horrible.

Jennifer Jones

Through all of her career, Jennifer Jones had brown hair.  But in the quirky film, “Beat the Devil” (1953), Jones sported a blonde hair-do. It looked pretty bad, and I’m not sure why they decided Jones needed to blonde in this film. However, her character is very flighty and talkative so it may have been a way to enhance that persona.

Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett started off her career as a natural honey blonde. Bennett starred in several forgettable films, until “Trade Winds” (1938) with Frederic March.  In the film, Bennett kills a man, dyes her hair brown and flees the county. Dying her hair in this film changed her career for the better and she was a brunette for the rest of her life, according to TCM’s host Robert Osborne. At the time Bennett dyed her hair, actress Hedy Lamarr was emerging as a success in “Algiers” (1938).  Several comparisons were made about the two actresses’ appearance, and they were publicized as rivals, according to Hedy Lamarr’s autobiography “Ecstasy and Me: My Life As A Woman.” To make matters even more interesting, Lamarr also married Bennett’s ex-husband Gene Markey. Personally I think Bennett looks better as a blond, brunette made her look harsh and older.

Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell is a natural brunette, usually cast in Spanish roles such as in “My Darling Clementine” (1946) or “Blood & Sand” (1941). But in 1947, Darnell went red for the film adaptation of the spicy novel “Forever Amber.” The film was supposed to help Darnell’s career and was the most expensive 20th Century Fox film at the time.  The film was successful in the box office, but did not get very good reviews-not reviving Darnell’s career. Though Darnell doesn’t look bad with reddish hair, she certainly looks her best as a brunette.

Olivia De Havilland

Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland went platinum blonde for her role in “Not As A Stranger” (1955). In the medical drama she plays Swedish nurse Kristina Hedvigson, and de Havilland’s accent in the film is just as bad as her hair.

Rita Hayworth

Famous for her flaming red-hair, Rita Hayworth is of Spanish decent and has naturally dark hair.  When she signed to a studio, studio heads decided her hair-line was too low and performed electrolysis for years to raise it, and dyed her hair red.  The hair color transformation made her famous, but another hair color change wasn’t so popular. Hayworth’s husband Orson Welles decided she needed to cut her hair short and dye it platinum blonde. Welles wrote the screen play and directed “The Lady From Shanghai” (1948) and wanted his wife to play the wicked lead woman; thinking no one would believe her in the role with red hair. The film bombed, because of Hayworth’s blond hair. I think Hayworth is beautiful with any hair color, but looks the best as a red-head, hands down.

Ginger Rogers

Like Hayworth, the hair color Ginger Rogers is most famous for, isn’t her own.  Through the 1930s until her death, Roger’s usually had blonde hair. Her natural hair color is actually auburn, which you can see in some of her very early films likes those with Joe E. Brown, according to Ginger Rogers’ autobiography. In the 1940s, Ginger Rogers decided to change her look and wore her hair brown in a few films such as “Primrose Path” (1940), “Kitty Foyle” (1940) and “TTom; Dick & Harry” (1941).  Rogers is one of the few people who can pull off both brunette and blond hair. I’m really not sure which I like better.

Who knew hair color could be so important?

What do you think? How do you feel about these actresses’ hair colors? What are some other actresses who changed the color of their feathers and either looked great, bad or changed their career?

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Classic movies in music videos: Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins

This is January’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

The famous scene from “A Trip to the Moon” (1902)

In light of the hit film “Hugo” (2011) that pays tribute to French film pioneer George Méliès, I wanted to share the 1996 video “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins from their album Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness.

The film plays off the theme of “A Trip To The Moon & The Extraordinary Voyage” (1902) where people get into a strange flying contraption-this time something that looks like a zeppelin and not a space ship- and fly to outer space.  The flying vehicle passes the same moon from “A Trip to the Moon” that the space ship flies into and the passengers meet similar space monsters as in the film.

The video further pays tribute Méliès by having a scene with mermaids-referencing another short film he made-and having a ship float by at the end named the S.S. Méliès.

Though Méliès was a pioneer of modern film, he couldn’t keep up with the changing times and died bitter and poor; working selling toys in a strain station- as we see in “Hugo.”

I am pleased to see that not only the recent film and this music video give him he recognition he deserves.

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A vigil for Carole

Today marks 70 years since Carole Lombard died in a plane crash in Nevada on her way home from selling war bonds.

She was one of America’s most beautiful, funny and sincere actresses.

I wanted to take a moment and pay tribute to Carole, her films and her patriotism.

If you have Twitter, I would like to try to get #VigilforCaroleLombard trending today. Thank you!

Patriotic Carole: Shortly after America entered the war, Carole Lombard was recruited by MGM’s publicity department to sell War Bonds, according to the History Channel. She was returning home from selling War Bonds in her home state of Indiana when her plane crashed outside of Las Vegas, killing 20 passengers including Carole and her mother. The following photos are from a War Bond Rally where she raised $2 million.

Carole selling war bonds (LIFE)

Singing the "Star Spangled Banner" during a war bond sale. (LIFE)

Selling war bonds (LIFE)

Carole and Clark: It’s no secret that Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are my favorite Hollywood couple. They were married in March 1939 until her death in 1942. Most people, including myself, think that the couple were soul mates.  The two still acted, but seemed to be living a simpler life on their ranch; raising chickens and Clark teaching Carole how to farm. Gable was devastated after her death and began drinking heavily. He enlisted in the Army and told friends that he didn’t care if he came back or not. Carole had a dachshund named Commissioner that followed Clark Gable around after she died.

Hands down favorite photo of Carole and husband, Clark Gable.

Carole and Clark having an intimate conversation.

Beautiful in color on their ranch in San Fernando Valley.

Clark taught Carole about farming, and she was eager to learn.

Gable bought prize winning $20,000 chickens. Unknowingly, Lombard gave these chickens to needy families. Gable joked they had an expensive chicken dinner!

Another all time favorite photo of mine-Clark and Carole quail hunting.

Carole in pigtails, quail hunting.

This is the cutest photo.

Carole and a chicken!

Carole and her dachshund Commissioner.

Carole the movie star: In my opinion, Carole is one of the most beautiful and versatile of the classic Hollywood stars: she could be sexy, hilarious and dramatic. She had flawless skin, golden hair and fabulous style. But she was also one of the guys on set, cussing like a sailor and making jokes.

Carole the glamorous film star.

Carole on the radio. I love her hat and fur. Very glamorous.

Perfect example of Carole Lombard: sexy and hilarious.

I think this is from "Lady By Choice." Feel free to correct me

The look I strive for. My role model.

 Carole Lombard: 1908 – 1942

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Actress beauty tip #20: Jane Powell exercises

This is the twentieth installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Jane Powell in 1954. Had a great figure then and still does!

Since the holidays are over  (no more sweets and heavy foods to slow me down) I’m ready to start exercising even more.

From past posts, many of you know I’m partial to Jane Fonda exercises, along with contemporary workouts like Jillian Michaels.  But recently I’ve been trying to find new exercises.

Keeping in tune with my 1980s Jane Fonda workouts, I’ve had my eye on an exercise tape actress and singer Jane Powell released in 1986 called “Jane Powell’s Fight Back With Fitness.” After letting it sit in Ebay watch list for months, I finally bought it last week for $6.

Jane Powell’s 1986 workout video

The exercises are for people with arthritis. I knew this when I bought the tape, but I still was interested in watching the tape and figured some of the exercises could still work for me.

Well….I was a little wrong.

The first 24 minutes of the video is breathing and stretching and the last 22 minutes consist of some floor work.

I mainly just watched the warm up portion because the exercises weren’t really for me. For example, some of the exercises involve touching each finger to your thumb, or breathing deeply and stretching your arms up to open your ribcage.

While I didn’t participate the whole time, I could tell that these would actually be very good exercises for someone with joint problems.

I did join in for leg and stomach exercises during the 22 minutes of floor work. While Jane Powell only did five slow reps, I would pause the tape and do several more.

Aside from exercises that weren’t appropriate for my physical level, it was a really fun work out tape.

Jane Powell in her 1986 video.

Jane is adorable and sometimes counts in a sing songy voice, so we get just a taste of her operatic voice. She wears a bright, sunny yellow leotard and is very sweet to the people exercising with her-understand their limitations and complimenting them the whole time.

To review: For those who are looking for an exercise video to get ripped and toned, this isn’t for you. But for a film fan who wants to see one of their favorite musical stars in another medium, it is a lot of fun.

Jane Powell is 57 in this video and looks wonderful-and looks great today as well!  I think it’s good that she did a workout video taking into consideration that some people aren’t able to do more strenuous exercises.

Check back for February’s beauty tip!

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What does 2012 bring for Comet?

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great, safe holiday season and are prepared for 2012- if the world does indeed end, please refer to my Mad Max survival post.

Happy New Year around the world from Ann Sheridan and myself.

So what is in store for Comet Over Hollywood in 2012?

A blogathon!

I’ve hinted that I’m planning on doing a blogathon- I’ve actually been thinking about it since this summer, but I was waiting until the holidays ended to formally announce it.

The blogathon will be called “Gone Too Soon” dedicated to actors who passed away before the age of 50, such as Natalie Wood, Jean Harlow, Carole Landis, Bobby Driscol, John Hodiak-just to name a few.

I’m scheduling the blogathon for March 9 and 10.  I will do another post listing rules, banners and the process later on but I would like to go ahead and start gauging interest.

Also in 2012 I plan on doing:

A contest!

I haven’t decided the format yet, but I think I’m planning on doing it in February. More details will come about this too.

Thank you all for reading Comet Over Hollywood this year.  It’s been a really fun year in the blog world, with some really awesome posts and blogathons from my peers. I have to say I think my favorite blogathons I particpated in was the 1939 blogathon, Hollywood Revue’s Fashion blogathon and the Guilty Pleasures blogathon was lots of fun too.

Look for January’s beauty tip soon and more classic film fun.

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