The Golden Age of Hollywood was truly a showcase for costume designers, some of whom—like Michael Woulfe—were lesser-known but made distinctive contributions to the glamour of this illustrious period. Michael takes the reader on his journey from a starstruck Brooklyn boy to a Hollywood costume designer who learns that Judy Garland has personally requested him to design her gowns for the gala film premiere of A Star Is Born. As in all fairytales, the journey is filled with joys and struggles—from Michael’s first film assignment dressing Sylvia Sidney in Blood on the Sun, his encounters with nastiness under the glittery surface of Hollywood, and the madness of working under the personal direction of Howard Hughes at RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
At the age of twenty-seven, Michael was one of the youngest costume designers in history to receive screen credit as Gown Designer. As head designer on more than sixty films, he created glamorous wardrobes and gowns for Hollywood stars and legends such as Claudette Colbert, Laraine Day, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Susan Hayward, Janet Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Terry Moore, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Russell, Jean Simmons, Barbara Stanwyck, Sylvia Sydney, Claire Trevor, and Loretta Young.
Howard Hughes taxed Michael’s endurance to the limit during their more than 25-year relationship that began at RKO Radio Pictures and ended at Hughes Productions. Hughes’s frequent meddling created exasperating and zany adventures for Michael, while his constant demands to show maximum cleavage often stifled creativity and culminated in the censorship of The French Line, Son of Sinbad, and The Conqueror. Michael’s film credits at RKO also include the studio’s first big-budget Technicolor film Tycoon starring John Wayne and Laraine Day, My Forbidden Past starring Ava Gardner, and Clash by Night starring Barbara Stanwyck and co-starring Marilyn Monroe.
“Glamour and Mischief!” is the first comprehensive look at a talented costume designer who had an out-of-the-ordinary career. The book takes us from RKO’s wardrobe room to the executive suites. Astonishingly, top executives must wait outside their own offices while Michael has private phone conversations with Howard Hughes and is charged with relaying orders back to RKO’s production chiefs.
David V. Jervis, after unearthing a treasure trove of memorabilia and an unpublished memoir, pays tribute to a man who loved the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood. He offers his special perspective as Michael’s close friend and confidante.
Michael Woulfe had a keen memory along with the ability to narrate engaging stories. “Glamour and Mischief!”—with over 200 images, including color sketches, photographs, newspaper clippings, and personal letters—offers a fresh, humorous, and insightful look into an intriguing Hollywood costume design career.
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Captivating read with eye candy illustrations!
I enjoyed this book so much. The wonderful illustrations astroprojected me to Hollywood in its golden era. I really enjoyed the storys about the actresses and actors and of course Howard Hughes. Fantastic book for Hollywood afficianados and Fashionistas!
"Golden Age" at its best!
Anyone interested in the history of Hollywood, should read this book, “Glamour and Mischief!" It is a brilliantly written memoir. The book centers around Michael Woulfe’s design career and all his escapades in the movie industry during the Golden Age of Hollywood. The intimacy and humor written by the author bring the reader many chuckles and “tidbits” of Michael's involvement with the Hollywood elite. So laugh out loud…enjoy…it’s a tremendous story, and well-worth the read.
The Hollywood Stories You’ve Never Heard
Unfiltered memoir meets unapologetic hagiography in a lively ebook that illustrates the transformation of native Brooklynite William Goldstein (aka Shmuleck – yiddish for recollection) to Michael Woulfe, the youngest Chief Costume Designer at a major studio (and ad-hoc right hand of RKO-owner Howard Hughes) to dapper retiree, cultivator of ravishing roses and resplendent reminiscer of blondes, brunettes and bosoms.
Full disclosure – I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of being acquainted with Mr. Woulfe and Mr. Jervis, and, much to my surprise, I’m mentioned in the prologue. Reading the book was like revisiting delightful afternoons with dear friends – one, a legendary costume designer, and the other, a graphic designer extraordinaire. Both were born storytellers, which is what makes “Glamour & Mischief such a hoot.
To rephrase Bill Hader’s Saturday Night Live character Stefon, this book has everything, Stars and starlets. Pseudonyms and secret assignations. Madcap shenanigans and the “Mormon Penthouse Mafia”. If you’ve ever wanted a behind-the-scenes peek at a Golden Age Hollywood studio, to know what it’s like to sleep at Joan Crawford’s house or to ride shotgun on a covert mission for an eccentric billionaire, “Glamour & Mischief” is an absolute must-read.
The literary lover will discover that it’s a beautifully written tale of enduring relationships: 1) Mr. Woulfe and the inscrutable Mr. Hughes, related via Woulfe’s unpublished manuscript, “Hello, Mike, This is Howard” and, 2) Mr. Jervis and Mr. Woulfe, friends brought together by a “Guest Apartment for Rent” sign, conveyed through a series of vivacious vignettes.
The Hollywood history buff will revel in encounters with Woulfe contemporaries on and off the set, including Jane Russell (to whom he introduced Marilyn Monroe), Jean Simmons, Debbie Reynolds and Sylvia Sidney, just to name a few. Plus, we also get the inside scoop on what the pregnant Judy Garland stashed in the opulently oversized sable muff her created for her to carry to the premiere of “A Star is Born” and where Ava Gardner hid out, pre-divorce from Frank Sinatra
The film and costume aficionado will be thrilled to discover Woulfe’s contributions to more than 60 films, including noir classics “Clash By Night”, “Angel Face” and “Beware My Lovely”. Gorgeous sketches paired with wardrobe stills and publicity photos of completed gowns give inspiring insight into Mr. Woulfe’s creativity and artistry (along with lessons in coping with a maddening, mammary-mesmerized employer).
What else can I tell you about “Glamour & Mischief“? Read it now and be transported by the Hollywood lore you haven’t heard yet.