Thursday, August 11, 2011

Old Age - Hollywood Style!

"Old age ain't no place for sissies"  
                        Bette Davis
Oh wise and wonderful one, Bette, truer words were never spoken. However, there is real old age and there is Hollywood old age and they are definitely not one in the same!

Many times young stars play a character who ages throughout the movie and they are made up to look like an older version of themselves. Let's see how close the make-up artists' vision of old age came to the real thing:

Bette Davis
Bette Davis as "The Old Maid
Bette as she really aged and telling it like it is!
Bob Hope, Bing Crosby 
and Dorothy Lamour
Bing, Dot and Bob in "The Road to Utopia"
(but not the Fountain of Youth!)
Bing looking a little older, but still dapper
Dorothy maintained her glamour 

So he has less hair, who cares? It was Bob Hope!
Jennifer Jones

In "Good Morning Miss Dove," Jennifer Jones
aged with nary a wrinkle!
Hardly an old maid schoolmarm! 
Clark Gable and Norma Shearer
Clark Gable and Norma Shearer as the
make-up department saw them age in "Strange Interlude"
Gable in his last film, "The Misfits."
Rugged, natural and wearing his age like a man.
Norma retired from the screen at a fairly young age, but remained the essence of chic. This was nobody's little old grandma!
Elizabeth Taylor
As a grandmother in "Giant." Well, maybe the make-up man just couldn't  make Liz look anything less than young and beautiful.
Some grandma! Liz aged beautifully until she was overtaken by illness
Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara and Tyrone Power in "The Long Gray Line"
Maureen O'Hara - no powered wigs for this glamour gal
We'll never know how Ty looked past age 44,
but I'll bet he would have been  beautiful
Irene Dunne
Irene Dunne as Queen Victoria in "The Mudlark"
Irene Dunne retired from the screen, but not from life.
A lovely and vital presence at age 64!
Rosalind Russell
Roz as "Sister Kenny"

Miss Russell looking like the star she is
So, after looking at these pictures, this is what I learned: Hollywood makeup artists during the golden age evidently thought old age was white powered hair for both men and women and a little extra facial hair for the men. While no one is immune to the ravages of time, some stars showed us how to age gracefully and naturally (with a little help from the box of hair color, of course). I guess glamorous grandmas and grandpas don't make for dramatic stories!

Just a few of the many 
who were taken too young 

Sadly, we will never have the opportunity to see how they matured.
James Dean
John Garfield
And a candle for some of the others who are missed and not forgotten
Lupe Velez, Laird Cregar, Montgomery Clift, Gail Russell, Judy Garland, Robert Walker, Sal Mineo, Carole Landis, Natalie Wood, Maria Montez, Mario Lanza, George Reeves, Dorothy Dandridge, Jayne Mansfield, Pier Angeli, Bruce Lee, Elvis Presley, Mabel Normand, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Leslie Howard.

R.I.P. Feel free to add the names of any I have not mentioned.


Aubyn said...

This was a beautiful post, FlickChick. Just when I'm done laughing over the old age makeup (Taylor and Hudson's blue hair from Giant takes the cake, in my opinion), and then you give me that list of Hollywood tragedies. Humor and sadness combined.

In the list of old age makeup travesties, I can't resist adding Don Ameche and Gene Tierney from Heaven Can Wait. As shown in Clara's review.

FlickChick said...

Thanks, Rachel. Yes - there are so many and Don & Gene are hysterical. I guess all old ladies were supposed to be blue-haired grannies. Thank goodness (and thank clairol) that isn't true anymore!

Caftan Woman said...

Classic Hollywood never seemed to get "middle age" right. Lewis Stone and Fay Holden seemed more like Andy Hardy's grandparents than his mom and dad.

FlickChick said...

CW - you're right! Either you were young and sweet or old and stale - no in between!

Claudia Fabiana said...

I loved seeing the old age make up too. John Garfield was an interesting guy. I just watched a few of his movies on TCM last week, and they gave a mini-bio on him. I'm happy to be following your fun blog! Come visit mine soon too!


FlickChick said...

Fabiana: Thanks so much! Just checked you out & I'm in (you had me at Elvis).

JavaBeanRush said...

What an excellent post!

I've noticed that in the 1930s and 1940s, classic movies dressed comforting,dowdy, middle-aged ladies in doilies and shawls, as if the ladies had been part of the furniture twenty years before. I'm thinking of the sisters in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and the mother in A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.

- Java

FlickChick said...

Java: so true! All of those make-up artists must have been young!

Diane said...

I loved seeing what the make-up artists seem to think of aging. Your post was funny and yet poignant at the same time.

FlickChick said...

Thank you, my dear.

ClassicBecky said...

Hollywood "old age" makeup never takes into account the main thing that makes us look older -- GRAVITY!

I would add to your "gone too soon" list my first love, Errol Flynn. His looks had become so ravaged, we forget he was barely 50when he died.

Rachel said it ... laughs and then sadness. Good post, FlickChick.

FlickChick said...

Becky, I think gravity is banned in Hollywood!

ClassicBecky said...

LOL! When I was just a kid and watching the age thing in movies, it did strike me that they looked much better than the real old people I knew. Didn't have the maturity to figure it out, but did think if you wanted to look good when you were old, you had to be skinny and gorgeous in the first placed.

Didn't realize you also had to attach at stategic places huge helium balloons pulling up your eyes, cheeks, etc., just out of camerage range. Where are MY balloons? LOLOL!

FlickChick said...

A white wig, a few pouches and - voila! - old age. Sagging body parts need not apply!

Sharon said...

Scotty Beckett, 1929-1968.
Cute as a button as a child star and through his teen years.

Julie Kirby said...

The Young stars (well everyone) back in the day looked so mature for their age... Elizabeth Taylor was 18 or 19 (?) When she did Father of the Bride & A Place in the Sun... Just think about Lyndsey Logan, much older, but not grown up... Another gone to soon; River Phoenix...

FlickChick said...

Julie - back then everyone wanted to look mature. Now everyone wants to look like a teenager!

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