I recently picked up The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s and the world since then by actress and activist Marsha Hunt. I first bough the book purely to study the clothes and have since fallen for the charming miss Hunt and her recollections of 1930s and '40s Hollywood!
Signed to Paramount at the young age of 17, Marsha Hunt was suddenly living the dream as a Paramount player in 1930's Hollywood. She had started as a model, and continued to model when not acting in a whole slew of films. She received copies of all of these fashion shots, and presents them here along with film stills and other photos of her time in Hollywood. The photos themselves are gorgeous and display a great range of styles, but it's Hunt's running commentary and captions that make this book more than just a coffee table visual treat.
After her contract at Paramount ended, and a few years jumping around the studios, Hunt signed a new contract with MGM where she remained for the next six years. I am sad to say that though Hunt made 62 motion pictures during her career, I have yet to see a single of her films. After learning so much about her I am definitely adding some of her films to my watchlist. Though always on the list of up-and-coming stars, Hunt's career was cut short when she was placed on Hollywood's Blacklist after being named as a possible communist sympathizer in the Red Channels conservative journal publication. Poor gal! She didn't back down, and was ostracized by the big studios for refusing to repent. She still worked steadily on Broadway, and made a few films through the '50s and later into the '60's, but never achieved the level of super stardom she was perhaps once destined to. After helping in the war effort visiting veterans hospitals and going on a USO tour, Hunt became more and more involved in activism. She has since worked with the United Nations on fighting hunger worldwide, and set up several charities addressing the issue of homelessness. What an inspiring woman!
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this great book of fashions and anecdotes! I nabbed a used copy on amazon for under $10. The great photos of styles from both decades are enhanced by Hunt's notes about what colors the fabrics (as the photos are black and white of course) of each ensemble were. Plus the close ups of the hats will have you swooning if your a hat lover like me! The book provides a great glimpse into "Old Hollywood" and I can't wait to watch some of Martha Hunt's films and see this great gal in action!