Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Edith Head

Edith Head (October 28, 1897 – October 24, 1981) was an American costume designer who had a long career in Hollywood that garnered her more Academy Awards than any other woman in history. She graduated from university in 1919 and became a school teacher at Bishops School in La Jolla, California.

With no experience, Head answered an advertisement to work for Paramount Pictures in the costume department. She borrowed another's sketches and passed them off as her own. She began designing costumes for silent films and by the 1930s had established herself as one of the leading designers. She worked at Paramount for 44 years until she went to Universal Pictures on March 27, 1967, possibly prompted by her extensive work for director Alfred Hitchcock, who had moved to Universal in 1960. During her long career she was nominated for 35 Academy Awards, including every year from 1948 through 1966, and won eight times, more Oscars than any other woman has won. She was responsible for some of the best-known Hollywood fashion images of her day, with her costumes being worn by the most glamorous and famous actresses in films seen by millions. Head's influence on world fashion was far reaching, especially in the 1950s when she began appearing on Art Linkletter's television program and writing books on fashion. In 1967 she left Paramount Pictures, and joined Universal where she remained until her death in 1981.

Head was a very private woman, a trait well illustrated by the dark sunglasses that became her trademark. Originally the lenses were blue, but later they were increasingly dark shades of gray. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6504 Hollywood Blvd.

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