Clothes on the TV show Dallas
Wardrobe is responsible for dressing every actor on screen, from star to extra. Costumer Kathy Monderine attends production meetingsi and marks her copy of the script with the vital information on wardrobe and costume. Costumes are rarely used in Dallas, since the actors generally wear ordinary street or western garb. The producers
are very sensitive about the part clothes play in the nighttime soaps
and feel that the Dallas characters must wear real clothes and look like
real people, as opposed to characters on other shows who appear in
scenes designed to show off the wardrobe.
Special wardrobe for the stars is handled by designer Bill Travilla, the man best known for creating the famous white halter dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch.
Travilla joined Dallas in 1984 and immediately won an Emmy for costume design. He will
do several original designs each season, usually of ball gowns for the Oil Baron’s Ball. He also works with the stars in selecting the rest of their ready—to—wear wardrobe. For Angelica Nero, played by Barbara Carrera, the most glamorous person to have appeared on Dallas, Tra-
villa has had the opportunity to create the kind of couture that would look ridiculous on almost any other Dallas character.
Most of the clothes are bought for the stars in specialty shops such as Lou Lattimore, Loretta Blum, and Marie Leavell in Dallas, al though Wardrobe has a house account at Neiman—Marcus so that they can take out several garments, see what works, and return the rest.
Barbara Bel Geddes wears a $5,000 beaded dress
Because the selection of clothes in Dallas is different from that in Los Angeles, producers prefer that most pieces be purchased in Dallas for a more realistic look. Additional clothing is bought in Los Angeles as needed.
In the early years of the show, the actors supplied some of their own clothes. Later, as the show became famous, designers often made arrangements with certain stars to wear their clothes—thus Linda Gray wore designs only by Giorgio Armani at one time. Barbara Bel Geddes had a long-standing arrangement with ]ean-Louis, the dean of Hollywood designers, and has her special clothes tailor-made for her by him. The studio, of course, gets the bill.
Edit: Contribution from Barbara Bel Geddes's daughter Susan on the wardrobe of Miss Ellie
"While it is true that my mother did use Jean -Louis for some of her wardrobe, it would be historically accurate, and fun to note, that most of the costumes she wore over the years were personally designed by Mom and her principle designer,
Iris Teragawa. This included everything from formal outfits (including several
gowns worn to Oil Barron's balls, etc.) to casual clothing and suits.
(Iris constructed some impeccable clothing and should be acknowledged for this.)
Contrary to the remark in the article, Mom retained the vast majority
of her Dallas wardrobe."
Each actress gets several new outfits per episode. The retail value of an average ready—to—wear outfit, complete with shoes and accessories, is about $1,000. She does not keep the clothes, even if they are custom-made for her. Everything is returned to a three-tiered pipe rack closet in Wardrobe beneath the Barrymore Building at AMGM, where they hang in areas separated by name tags for the characters.
At the end of a season, Wardrobe sells the clothing they won’t carry
over for another year.
Each character has a specific look that functions as an aspect of his or her personality. Wardrobe changes over the years as the characters grow, mature, and change. When Dallas started, Pam wore inexpen sive clothes. As she gained in sophistication and became wealthy in her own right, she began wearing quality clothes and a high-fashion look.
Sue Ellen’s look, which began as very all-American designer sportswear, has also grown much more sophisticated and European. Miss Ellie is so rich she can dress however she pleases, which is what she does. Although viewers often write to complain about Miss Ellie’s
clothes, few responded positively when Donna Reed dressed up the image with a bouffant hairstyle and Chanel lookalike suits.
The wardrobe department keeps lists for each actor and each episode, showing what is worn by each actor in every scene. Of special concern are the shows that are shot partially in Dallas and then finished in Los Angeles: the same clothes may drape differently on the body because of the heat in Dallas.
A Wardrobe buys at least two of everything in order to “double” an outfit in case an accident should damage clothing in the middle of production.
For outdoor clothes worn in Dallas, several changes may be needed—especially for men’s shirts—because of the problem of perspiration. Seasons, however, do not affect basic wardrobe choices.
Sue Ellen is likely to wear leather pants at any time of the year, for example, no matter what the temperature.
Men’s wardrobe is determined by ]ack Baer, who picks out all the men’s clothing and accessories. Wardrobe is used as a subtle layer of character information and is carefully attuned to the psychological background of each character. At various costume meetings during the year, producers will explain what’s in store for certain characters and how their dress should reflect their state of mind. A character would never look awful just because she felt awful, however. Even when a distraught Sue Ellen was dragged away to the confines of a sanitarium, she was ever so roughly grasped by the sleeves of her gorgeous, brightly colored silk blouse.
Whether the actress has makeup or hair call first is immaterial, since
both will be readjusted before the scene is actually shot. Men usually
have makeup applied before their hair is combed, because their hair
is often fixed in a more rigid style.
Actresses with early morning calls usually tumble out of bed, throw on casual clothes, roll into their cars or limousines, and propel themselves into Hair and Makeup while they are still half asleep. Often they fall back asleep while the hairstylist or makeup man is at work.
Some come with freshly shampooed hair wrapped in a towel (even in the cold at 5:30 in the morning). If an actress’s call is later in the morning or the stylists are very busy, she may just grab a blow dryer or rollers and do her hair herself. The actresses have final say in what style they will actually wear, although only Barbara Carrera wore several styles during the course of a season.
While hair can be washed, dried, set, and styled by hairstylists Jerry Gugliemotto and Diane Pepper, the actresses themselves are responsible for the basic cut that leads to the style.
Often an actress does
not feel free to change her hairstyle without the producers, permis-
sion, but some go ahead and change the style without telling anyone.
This must be done between seasons as her style will be kept up throughout the season with a mid-season trim. Female characters on‘ Dallas do not go out and cut or color their hair for emotional reasons related to the story line, although both ]enna and Pam have moved
from fuller looks to simpler, blunt-cut styles. Actresses are also responsible for their hair color and may be teased unmercifully by other cast and crew members should the merest hint of dark roots appear at the hairline.
It’s not uncommon practice on a glamour show for an actress to wear a hair piece to bulk out her hair on camera. but this is not done on Dallas. None of the actresses wears any kind of hair appliance, not even a fall, or three—quarter wig.
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