Posts Tagged ‘Bob Mackie’

Bob Mackie on Divas, Dresses, and More!

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Bob Mackie’s name alone conjures up certain iconic celebrities: Cher, Carol Burnett, Barbie… In his Archive interview, Mackie talks about the many incredible stars for whom he’s designed, including Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Elton John, and discusses how he not only loves designing flashy pieces, but everyday-wear, too. In the clip below, Mackie discusses the single piece of clothing for which he’s most famous: the curtain rod dress he made for The Carol Burnett Show’s spoof of Gone With the Wind:

Watch Bob Mackie’s full interview here:

About this interview:

In his interview for the Archive of American Television, Bob Mackie recounts his earliest experiences in Hollywood working for respected designers Edith Head and Jean Louis. He discusses working with Ray Aghayan on The Judy Garland Show, and recalls the notable television specials with which he was involved, including Brigadoon, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Carousel and Kismet. Mackie details his eleven-year tenure on The Carol Burnett Show, and explains the weekly requirements for designing costumes for the complex, ensemble show. He speaks fondly of designing costumes for Burnett’s most memorable characters: southern belle Starlett O’Hara from “Went With the Wind,” dim-bulb secretary Mrs. Wiggins, shrill Eunice Harper Higgens, and fading legend Nora Desmond. Mackie describes his successful collaboration with Cher, beginning on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and continuing with Cher, The Sonny and Cher Show, and her various television, concert, and public appearances (including her well-known Academy Award outfits). He also comments on his designs for Donny and Marie, The Diahann Carroll Show, and such feature films as “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Funny Lady.” He speaks about his most recent work, including a line of collectible dolls for Mattel’s Barbie, more television collaborations with Carol Burnett, and television specials including Gypsy and Mrs. Santa Claus. Finally, he reminisces about designing for such performers as Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Carol Channing, Elton John, Dinah Shore, Ann-Margret, Mitzi Gaynor and Lucille Ball. Jennifer Howard conducted the three hour interview in North Hollywood, CA on June 29, 2000.

A Curtain Rod on a Sassy Broad: Burnett’s “Went with the Wind!” Turns 35

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

“I saw it in the window and I just couldn’t resist it.”

That plush green velvet, those stringy gold tassels, that sturdy curtain rod…  “Starlet O’Hara’s” make-shift drapery dress is one of THE most recognizable ensembles in all of television. And Starlet sashaying down the grand staircase, proud as punch of her outfit, garnered one of TV’s biggest laughs. The Carol Burnett Show’s “Went with the Wind!” sketch turns 35 today, first airing on November 13, 1976 on CBS. The skit starred Carol Burnett as Starlet, Harvey Korman as “Rat Butler,” Vicki Lawrence as “Sissy,” Tim Conway as “Brashley Wilkes,” and Dinah Shore as Brashley’s devoted wife, “Melody Hamilton.” Though the curtain rod dress is the scene-stealer, the full sketch is almost 20 minutes long and pays homage to many of Gone with the Wind’s most memorable moments, including Scarlett’s closing monologue, her perilous fall down the stairs, Prissy’s questionable knowledge about birthin’ babies, and Rhett’s famous last line.

The Archive is honored to have conducted interviews with several of the “Went with the Wind!” players. In her 2003 interview, Miss Starlet herself, Carol Burnett, said the following of Starlet’s show-stopping dress:

“That was Bob Mackie. When I came in for costume fittings that Wednesday, and we taped on Friday, the original gag about the curtain rod was that Starlet pulls the curtains down and says, ‘I’m going to make me a dress.’  And it had been written that I come down the stairs with everything just kind of hanging, which would have been funny.  But I went into costumes that day, and Bob says, ‘I have an idea.’  And he brought out the curtain rod with the green curtains on it.  And I fell on the floor. I said, “this is the most brilliant sight gag I think, ever.”

Bob Mackie, too, shared his memories of the curtain rod dress:

Vickie Lawrence, “Sissy,” spoke of the “Went with the Wind!” writers and Harvey Korman’s preparations for the role of “Rat Butler:”

And Harvey Korman and Tim Conway discussed Korman’s spot-on Rhett Butler impression:

- by Adrienne Faillace

For more on The Carol Burnett Show’s “Went with the Wind!” and to view the sketch, visit our show page

Legendary Costume Designer Ray Aghayan Dies at 83

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

We’ve just learned that noted costume designer Ray Aghayan has passed away at the age of 83. He began his work in television designing costumes for Matinee Theater, while on staff with the NBC wardrobe department. He worked on many live shows of the time (often requiring much artistry to accommodate quick costume changes during live broadcasts). He also won the first-ever awarded Emmy for costume design (along with his longtime professional partner Mackie) for Alice Through the Looking Glass. Among his other work, he designed costumes for The Judy Garland Show, many Academy Awards telecasts, and the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics.  Below are some excerpts from his 1997 Archive of American Television interview.

What do you think makes an excellent costume design?
I think an excellent costume design is that which serves its purpose to the best possible degree.  Gives the actor the character.  Helps the actor grow into that human being.  And to be able to, it helps the audience to be able to look at that and know what the hell it is they’re looking at.  That is the best costume.  When it really serves as that complete thing that you, gives you all the information you need to have.

What makes an excellent costume designer?
Having talent obviously helps.  Beyond that I think, unfortunately you have to also be a good politician.  You have to be able to keep the people below you and the people above you happy.  But basically, anybody will put up with talent.  If you can really do it that’s what it’s all about.

What to you constitutes bad work?
When it’s ugly.

What advice would you give a young person about going into the profession?
I would think that you have to be sure that you’re very good.  I would think that you should be able to draw and draw well.  And have an enormous amount of tenacity, because they’re coming out of the woodwork, there’s so many.  And it’s, there are more costume designers than there are jobs.  So the only way, you have to be very good.

Ray Aghayan and Judy Garland

How has television influenced the fashion industry?
There were 52 million homes watching The Carol Burnett Show, so you take it from there. Obviously Cher caused everybody to go naked.  There was a while that you could never buy a halter top, for example.  Seriously. And then suddenly she happened – it was an accident – four or five weeks in a row she had a halter on. The halter top became the thing to wear.  It’s just like that.

Are costume designers aware of that when they’re creating?
No.  I don’t think so. I don’t think they sit down and say now I’m going to draw something so that when it’s on camera everybody will see it and therefore they will copy it. I don’t think anybody does that.

What knowledge do costume designers need to bring to the table?
Basically they should bring a great knowledge of history, of costume, which most of them don’t.  And be able to read and understand the character.  And help the actor to realize the character visually, that she has, or the director has, in their mind.

Watch the full interview at