Monday, May 4, 2015

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ladies Prefer Big Hats (or whatever is in fashion)

Sad Mary Pickford in her New York Hat 1912..She was Canadian as was Mack Sennett, who was from Richmond, Quebec. Anito Loos penned the script for the Musketeers of Pig Alley, a 1912  movie short they were both in.

I was watching the much longer 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on TCM yesterday, a case of 1000 channels and nothing to watch but oldies but goodies, at least until evening with Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge and Madmen (good episode!)...

And I thought about Anita Loos - so looked her up on IMDB etc to see that she also scripted The New York Hat for Biograph, the short with Mary Pickford playing a small town girl who longs for an expensive $10.00  hat in the local shop window,  and the Minister buys it for her with secret money he has been given just for her and the town gossips assume he is having an affair with her.

Small town life in 1912.

Read all about the Canadian version in Threshold Girl, my story based on real family letters. Edith Nicholson and hers sisters were from Richmond, Quebec and Edith's father, Norman, did business with Sennett's father, Sinnott, in the 1880's.

Hats are a big in my stories, too, figuratively and literally.

Edith Nicholson, missionary school teacher, paid 7.50 for a hat in 1911 and she was making but 200 dollars a year as a teacher without diploma. It was a big black shape with flowers. (See below, embellished, like my story about her.)

She lived  in the big city of Montreal by then and bought it at uber fashionable Ogilvy. Her sister Marion was making much more money as a teacher with diploma on the Montreal Board, but she paid only $6.50 for her hat, a small shape with blue violets.

Edith sad in her big hat from 1911. In Diary of a Confirmed Spinster I explain why she is so sad in this picture.

Anyway, Anita Loos had a long career and a longer life. She did her most famous work, most enduring work, later in life...or so it seems to me.

Perhaps she had to wait for cinema technology to catch up to her talent.