Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s


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!


11 comments:

  1. What a bunch of interesting informations! Really didn't know much about Marsha, accept that she was a babe. Love the photos and would love to have a book too!

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    1. Sadly I had never even heard of her before picking up this book! My old Hollywood education has only just begun, so I hope to watch one of her films soon :)

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  2. I need this book in my life so very, very much. Off to see if eBay or AbeBooks wants to smile on me (and my pocketbook). If not, on top the top of my vintage related book wishlist it will go. Thank you so much for the lovely introduction.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. There were some used copies on Amazon, but I think someone might have snapped them up already! It's definitely a great read/look I had a wonderful time reading it last weekend!

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  3. What an interesting woman! I love the look in the second photo. I will be keeping a look out for this great sounding book.

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    1. It was so inspiring reading her fabulous memories, definitely keep an eye out for it!

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  4. Great book discovery! I was lucky enough to meet her when she self published that terrific book in the early 90's and sold them in person at lectures. Her story was fascinating to hear, and she was as vivacious and interesting as she appears in her photos. Apparently her collection grew because she was a perfect size for the many fashions and costumes she was photographed in, so they used her often to model. That's why there are so many more photos of her than most other actresses during that era. (not to promote one book seller, but Amazon has many copies for sale--search under "Marsha Hunt")

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    1. How wonderful you got to go to one of those lectures! That sounds so wonderful, she is certainly an inspiring woman :)

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  5. This is a wonderful book, one of my first on fashions of the era. You can really see a lot of details, especially accessories that aren't generally in focus in many photos. And it's so interesting to hear what her experience as a young model and actress was like.

    I was also lucky enough to meet Ms. Hunt back in the 90s, when she was involved with a vintage fashion show benefit that I helped out with. She was a very nice lady, engaging, down to earth, and still beautiful and very stylish in her late 70s.

    One of the easiest of her films to find is the 40s version of Pride and Prejudice, her Mary is amusing and awfully cute. You just have to take the movie on it's own terms, it isn't faithful to the book and will drive you nuts if you expect it to be.

    Dee

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    1. I am such an accessory fiend, which is definitely part of the reason I just had to add this book to my collection. It is so wonderful to hear that a few readers have actually gotten to meet Ms Hunt! It sounds like she is the most lovely woman! I'll have to watch her version of P&P, I never expect much historical or book accuracy from older films so I should be okay :)

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  6. I also met her in the 90's, at a book signing when she first published. What a lovely and lively person, it was a treat to meet her. BTW she is still very active and has a talk coming up at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood.

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