Posts Tagged ‘Gaslight Film’

San Jacinto Dressmaker Worked on ‘Gaslight’

July 27, 2011

A young girl looks over sale fabrics at Jo-Ann's in Hemet. Not far away, a former MGM dressmaker recalls working on Miss Bergman's white gown.





By Marcia E. Gawecki

A smart-looking couple poured over books of sewing patterns at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics in Hemet. She was looking for the perfect dress pattern for an upcoming wedding outfit. As it turns out, Rhea was a former dressmaker for MGM Studios in the early 1940s, and worked on the film, “Gaslight,” which also happens to be Cafe Cinema’s Feature Film this Friday night in Idyllwild.

“I worked on Ingrid Bergman’s dress,” Rhea said, “The white one that she wore coming down the stairs.”

Director George Cukor’s 1944 mystery-thriller, “Gaslight” is about a woman who is driven out of her mind, wrote Jeffrey Taylor in a Cafe Cinema email. Ingrid Bergman received the first of two Academy Awards for this film, which also stars Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and an 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her screen debut.

“Gaslight” was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography (black and white). It won for Best Actress and Best Art Direction.

Rhea said that she couldn’t remember any details about Miss Bergman’s dress.

“That was about 100 years ago,” she joked.

However, she was one of many dressmakers at MGM who worked on that dress.

“No one ever made the whole thing,” she said.

Rhea said that working at MGM Studios was as good a job as any after WWII. The pay was sufficient, but, after three years, she left.

“We all worked different shifts, and it was really cutting into my social life,” Rhea said.

She later worked for Douglas Aircraft, where she met her second husband, Rick. They’ve been married for 54 years and now live in San Jacinto.

“Back then, dressmakers could sometimes mix up the colors on the star’s dresses,” Rick reminded her.

“All the movies were made in black-and-white, so color wasn’t all that important,” Rhea explained. “For example, if a star had a larger bust, and we needed to add more material to the front of her dress, it didn’t have to be an exact color match–just close enough.”

“Of course, now with color film, you have to be exact,” Rhea added.

Rhea said that she had seen “Gaslight” about three times and really enjoyed the film. However, she and Rick won’t attend the “Gaslight” screening in Idyllwild this Friday night because of other plans.

“You should see it,” Rhea said. “It’s really a good movie.”

Festivities take place at 7 p.m. at the new Cafe Cinema in Idyllwild. Food, beverage, and admission are free. Cafe Cinema is located at 53290 Deer Foot Lane. For more information, visit, or call (951) 659-6000.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Custom Search