Style on Display: Katharine Hepburn exhibit in South Carolina

Katharine Hepburn photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE magazine in 1938.

When it comes to classic film actresses, Katharine Hepburn placed herself far from the crowd of studio starlets.

Her characters were strong, she didn’t attend Hollywood events, and she didn’t present herself in a soft, feminine manner.

“Kate wasn’t someone you could mold easily, that you could control,” said director Dorothy Arzner, who directed Hepburn in Christopher Strong (1933).

And when you think of Katharine Hepburn, you think of her clothing—particularly her pants, something so innocuous now but an article of clothing “polite” women of the 1930s and 1940s weren’t seen wearing in public.

These pants and other items of Katharine Hepburn’s costumes and clothing are on display in the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC, as part of the “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” exhibit, running through January 14. The costumes are on loan to the Upcountry History Museum from the Kent State University Museum. The Hepburn Estate donated Miss Hepburn’s collection to Kent State University Museum.

Costumes from the play version of “The Philadelphia Story” at the Upcountry History Museum.

“It was Miss Hepburn’s wish that her personal collection of her performance clothes be given to an educational institution. Her other personal effects were sold in a Sotheby’s Auction for charity,” said Jean L. Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum in an e-mail interview. “Her executors discovered the Kent State University Museum through friends of friends and Gladys Toulis, the first director of the Kent State Fashion School.”

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Behind the Screen at the Museum of the Moving Image


The film and television industry have shaped the way society behaves from the way they dress to the toys they play with.

The Museum of the Moving Image, located in Astoria, NY, celebrates TV and film of the past and present through exhibits that highlight everything down to film makeup and costuming, equipment used behind the scenes and the editing process of screenplays.

Exhibits also show where and how it all began from optical toys from the 1800s to early color television cameras.

In late July, I visited the Museum of Moving Image and enjoyed exploring their Behind the Screen exhibit which included everything from sketches by Orson Welles to a Margaret O’Brien doll. Below are photos from the visit:

All Made Up: 


Life masks of actors. The front mask is of Dorothy McGuire in “The Enchanted Cottage” (1945) with Anthony Quinn in “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1962) to the left. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


A telegram sent by Orson Welles to Maurice Seiderman in reference to make-up–specifically rubber noses–for the film “Compulsion” (1959). Sent in Sept. 1958. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Sketch made by Orson Welles in August 1958 of how he wanted his makeup to look in "Compulsion" (1959).

Sketch made by Orson Welles in August 1958 of how he wanted his makeup to look in “Compulsion” (1959). (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)


Photos of Orson Welles exhibiting the makeup process for “Compulsion” (1959).

Wig worn by Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Wig worn by Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). The white streaks was designed by makeup artist Jack Pierce to suggest her birth by electricity. The wig was made by the Max Factor Company and was reconstructed for the museum of Josephine Turner in 1991 who was the head of the wig-making department at Max Factor from 1935 to 1965. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Wig worn by Bette Davis in “Jezebel” (1938). (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Wig worn by Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” (1963). The wig was designed by MGM’s hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff and constructed by Bill Huntley of Wig Creations in London. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


Script for the Sidney Lumet directed film, “Network” (1976), written by Sidney Chayefsky. The red crayon is Lumet, who would cross out dialogue after it was filmed. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


Replica of Robin Williams’ makeup for “Miss Doubtfire” (1993). (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


Costume worn by Hedy Lamarr as Delilah in “Samson & Delilah” (1949), directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The gown was designed by Edith Head. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

For the Fans and Consumers: 


Various film fan magazines ranging from 1911 to 1980 including: Motion Picture, Photoplay, Picture Play, Motion Picture Classic, Film Fun, Real Screen Fun, Modern Screen, Silver Screen, Screen Romances, Movie Story, Screen and Television Guide, Screenland Plus TV-Land. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)


Lupe Velez on the cover of a October 1931 issue of Picture Play. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Brandon B.)


Bette Davis on the cover of Modern Screen, promoting “The Letter.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)


William S. Hart on the cover of a June issue of Motion Picture.



Shirley Temple and the Dionne Quintuplets on an issue of Modern Screen. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


Exhibiting how films affected the toy industry with film themed board games, dolls and paint books. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


A Pinnochio doll based off of Walt Disney’s 1940 cartoon. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


Silent film actor Rudolph Valentino on 1935 “beautebox.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)


“Our Gang” coloring book. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Doll of child actress Margaret O’Brien (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Lantern slide, which were used during intermission in modern film houses, which were used between 1916 and 1929. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)

Lantern slide, which were used during intermission in modern film houses, which were used between 1916 and 1929. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)



Film promotion posters and programs. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)

Film Cameras: 


Edison 35mm Projecting Kinetoscope, Model D, 1912.


Pathe 35mm Projector from 1905. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)


Edison 35mm Projecting Kinetoscope, 1897. This sold for $100 at the time. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)


Three-strip Technicolor camera, Model EF-2, 1940. (Comet Over Hollywood/Brandon B.)



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