Hollywood Halloween: DIY Film Themed Costumes

If you’re like me (or any other classic film fan), the character or actor you want to dress as isn’t at Party City. There are only ill-fitting $80 Marilyn Monroe costumes from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” No one sells a “Gigi” costume so you can be Leslie Caron or a frumpy, loud costume to be Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas.” So that’s why we make our own.

Starting in my last year of college, I decided I wanted to dress as my favorite stars so I started making my own costumes for Halloween. Of course, I make these costumes fully knowing that the only people who will understand them are my Twitter followers and readers of Comet Over Hollywood. Here are my Halloween costumes since 2010:


Carmen Miranda Halloween costume in 2010

Carmen Miranda: Halloween 2010
As a huge musical fan, Carmen Miranda is always a bright spot. This was a fairly easy costume of gathering together various vibrant pieces to simulate the Carmen Miranda feel, rather than mimic a specific costume from one of her films. The only purchased clothing was the vest and skirt, which were vintage from eBay. While known as “the Lady with the Tutti Frutti Hat,” not all of Miranda’s hats involved fruit — some included umbrellas, butterflies or were simple, bright turbans. However, I decided to go with the fruit design since it was most identifiable. The hat was made of a baseball cap with the bill cut off and fruit from the five and 10 cent store glued and sewed on. No one knew who I was and only called me Chiquita Banana, who was inspired by Miranda.


Cyd Charisse in “Band Wagon” (1953)

Cyd Charisse in the Girl Hunt Ballet number in “Band Wagon” (1953): Halloween 2011
Cyd Charisse’s red costume in the “Girl Hunt Ballet” is probably one of her most recognizable looks (though of course, no one knew who I was). My sisters and I took dance for many years and my older sister’s 1998 tap costume looks similar to Cyd Charisse’s bodice. All it was lacking was a skirt. I took the costume, tacked on a similar sequined fabric, added some gloves and was ready to dance with Fred Astaire. The only thing I regret is now is not getting a black wig.


Louise Brooks in “Now We’re in the Air”

Louise Brooks in “Now We’re in the Air” (1927): Halloween 2013
I’ll confess, this costume was inspired by the fact that I found a short, black wig on sale at Wal-Mart the day after Halloween in 2012. So for a full year, I knew I was going to be Louise Brooks in some capacity. Her publicity photo for “Now We’re in the Air” (1927) is one of her most famous so I decided to mimic this. This was a relatively simple costume to make, but finding the exact items I wanted was the only challenge. Locating a plain black tutu was difficult, so I used an old dance costume. “Now We’re in the Air” is a previously lost film that was found in 2017.


Sigourney Weaver in “Ghostbusters”

Sigourney Weaver as “There is no Dana, only Zuul” from Ghostbusters (1984): Halloween 2014
After revisiting “Ghostbusters” (1984), I was struck by how beautiful possessed Sigourney Weaver’s costume was. I thought it would be a piece of cake and that I would only need to find a similar orange dress and make some alterations, right? Wrong. Unable to find what I needed, I made my own dress. I bought a 1980s dress pattern off eBay of a similar style. I then bought bright orange slick fabric, see-thru shimmery fabric as a sash and a bit of gold fabric to go along the slit of the dress. Since I can’t sew a dress pattern and don’t have a sewing machine, my friend Katie was wonderful helped me (or did the bulk of the work) by helping me cut and sew the pattern. I used the see-thru fabric as sash tied around the waist. As for hair, I have extremely straight hair that doesn’t curl well. So the easiest solution to mimic Sigourney Weaver’s hair was to wear a very curly brown wig.


Full costume for “The Red Shoes”

Makeup detail for “The Red Shoes”

Moira Shearer as Victoria Page in “The Red Shoes” (1948): Halloween 2015
This is my second favorite costumes for several reasons: I loved doing the enhanced ballet eye makeup, it was comfortable, and this was probably the easiest costume I have ever done. I was inspired to recreate this look from the Powell and Pressburger film after seeing several people I know attending screenings. Creating this costume mainly involved locating and ordering the various pieces. The most complicated part was finding an appropriate red wig (I found a long wig and cut it). Above is a photo of the costume and a close-up of the makeup. The red makeup around the eyes is lip liner. Of course, no one knew who I was in this costume, but I didn’t get any weird looks. They just assumed I was a ballet dancer. I was happy and comfortable throughout the evening out.


Hedy Lamarr in the “You Stepped Out of a Dream” number in “Ziegfeld Girl” (1941): Halloween 2016
This is my favorite Halloween costume (thus far) as far as outcome and looks go. It wasn’t perfect and an exact match to Adrian’s costume creation, but I was pretty darned pleased. That said, it was also the most difficult and time-intensive costume I have made to date, and I’m tired just thinking about it. This is a recreation of the gown Hedy Lamarr wore as Tony Martin sings “You Stepped Out of a Dream” in the MGM film, “Ziegfeld Girl.” It’s the big reveal of the new Ziegfeld Girls (Judy Garland, Lamarr, and Lana Turner), who all premiere for the first time. Costumes in Florenz Ziegfeld shows were outlandish and Hedy’s wasn’t even the most difficult of the bunch exhibited in this number. I started buying and creating this costume at least a month out before Halloween. It involved cutting out hundreds of fabric and paper star, lots of gluing and some engineering help from my dad for the elaborate star headdress. Again, no one in person knew who I was and I kept stepping on long dress (I left the headdress in the car once it got too crowded), but people were impressed even if they didn’t know who I was.


Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer. (Photo illustration by Brandon Brown)

Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer (1955–1959): Halloween 2017
Still tired from the “Ziegfeld Girl” costume, I almost skipped Halloween this year. But inspired by my Annette Funicello Fridays on social media, I tried to throw together a simple Mouseketeer costume. This involved only buying a blue skirt and some iron-on letters — I already had Mickey Mouse ears from a 2007 trip to Disney World. While I adore Annette, my straight light hair wouldn’t have worked well. And a short, curly wig would have just looked terrible. So I dubbed myself Mouseketeer Jessica and was ready for roll call! (I guess I could have been Darlene or Karen).

Color detail of Mouseketeer costume

What are some of our classic film costumes? Share below! Happy Halloween

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“Now it’s time to say goodbye”: Remembering Annette Funicello

Just thinking about her makes me smile.

annette funicello 2

Annette Funicello

Annette Funicello has always been a source of happiness in my household. Her films, the Annette mystery book series, her music- she has always been a favorite of the Pickens’ family.

Though I didn’t grow up in the 1960s, I grew up with Annette. My mom was a huge fan so I was introduced to “The Shaggy Dog” (1959) and “Babes in Toyland” (1961) at a young age.

“I had Annette books, coloring books and paper dolls growing up,” my mom, Lisa Pickens, said. “I really liked her a lot. Since she was only in movies while she was young, we didn’t see her age. There was something special about Annette.”

Annette was an original Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. She autographed a photo for me in 2008

Annette was an original Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. She autographed a photo for me in 2008

Even in the past two years, summer afternoons were spent downloading her songs on iTunes and watching old Mickey Mouse Club episodes and the Annette series. In the serial Annette was a “country cousin” who moves to the city to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle.

“Throughout all the years we were friends she never changed from that sweet person who cared so much about others,” said Mousketeeer Sharon Baird, on the Official Disney Fan Club. “She always had time for everyone; family, friends and fans alike. It’s no wonder she was America’s sweetheart.”

In the 1950s, Annette Funicello stood out as a Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. Her background was Italian and she looked different than the other, Anglo-Saxon children.

She even suggested that she change her last name to “something more American,” but Walt Disney disagreed, saying her own name made her more unique, according to IMDB.

And her uniqueness is what made her the most popular of the original Mousketeers.

“The Disney studio wasn’t like other studios. It was just like home – it always had a small-town, family atmosphere,” she said.
Along with The Mickey Mouse Club, Annette starred in Disney films such as “The Misadventures of Merlin Jones” (1964) and “Babes in Toyland.”

Her fame brought her to recording career, with records like “Hawiaannette,” “Itallianette” and “Danceannette,” but Miss Funicello didn’t think she could sing.

“The Sherman Brothers wrote a song for me for the Annette series called ‘How Will I Know My Love,’” she said in an interview. “They told me we have to put this on a single. People are writing us like crazy wanting to buy it. I told them I don’t sing. And they said, ‘Well I’m signing you to a recording contact, young lady.’ And I said yes sir, and that’s what started my singing career.”

Composer Tutti Camarata was the one who created “The Annette Sound.” This is where she would sing the song once. She then would listen to the song with headphones, while trying to sing along as exact as she could, she said.

“It gave me that larger sound that I needed, because my voice is very small with a range of about of three notes,” she laughed. “It worked. I think my favorite song was ‘Pineapple Princess.’ I was lucky enough to have five songs that made the Top 10.”

Stevie Wonder, early in his career, with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in "Muscle Beach"

Stevie Wonder, early in his career, with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in “Muscle Beach”

Annette was also one of the first performers to sing with the Beach Boys as they were growing in fame.

“I really shouldn’t put down my singing career, because I’m so appreciative of everything that came my way,” she said.

In interviews and in her autobiography “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” Annette seems like somebody you would run in to at the store. Annette was sweet and down to Earth, making her more relatable for her fans.

With Tommy Sands in "Babes in Toyland"

With Tommy Sands in “Babes in Toyland”

Even while she was in movies, her father still worked at a gas station, and Annette wasn’t allowed to date until she was 16, according to her New York Times obituary.

In real life, she stayed friends with fellow teen stars Frankie Avalon, Shelley Fabres and fellow Mousketeers Doreen Tracey and Cheryl Holdridge, who passed away in 2009. She was good friends with Jimmy Dodd from the Mickey Mouse Club until his death in 1964.

While she was 21-years-old and still under contract at Disney, she was approached about roles in beach films. Walt Disney approved Annette doing the films as long as she didn’t show her belly button in bathing suits, according to the New York Times.

These films included the silly, but fun, “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965) and “Beach Party (1963).

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in "Beach Party"

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in “Beach Party”

Annette retired from films, only making a few appearances, after she married her first husband in 1965 to raise her family.

“She was always there for car pools, Hot Dog Day and the P.T.A,” her daughter said in 1994.

After they divorced, she remarried in 1986 to Glen Holt. They remained married until she passed away.

Annette returned for a few appearances in the 1980s including “Back to the Beach” (1987) with Frankie Avalon, and an appearance on the TV Show “Full House” where Michelle pronounced her last name as “Funny-Jello.”

It was in 1987, she learned she had Multiple Sclerosis and established the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.

Miss Funicello passed away today at the age of 70, and the world seems a little dimmer.

“Everyone who knew Annette, loved and respected her,” said Walt Disney’s daughter Diane Miller.  “She was one of the loveliest people I’ve ever known, and was always so kind to everyone. She was also the consummate professional and had such great loyalty to my father. Annette will always be very special to me.”

Rest in peace, Annette. You will always remain in our hearts as you chant “Meeska-Mooska-Mouseketeer” and surf the beaches of California.

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