"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ... Bogart, Shakespeare, The Maltese Falcon, Those Great Movies

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bad Hair Days for Beautiful Stars -- Yes, Even They Had Them!

Today I was in a Sherlock Holmes mood, so I watched Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon with the wonderful Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.  I was inspired to do this just-for-fun pictorial by the hair stylist who was so incompetent he was able to make handsome, distinguished Basil look silly!  Takes a real lack of talent to do that!  I'm using captions for my little remarks for 2 reasons.  First, they pretty much speak for themselves, and second, fitting text with several pictures is a real pain, as most movie bloggers know!  Enjoy!

Basil Rathbone in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.
Really?  Arthur Conan Doyle believed the dead could speak
to us -- why didn't he come back and complain?

Joan Crawford must have had 285 bobby pins
in this every-which-way updo...

Bette Davis in The Little Foxes ... great movie,
fabulous performance ... maybe the hair is
authentic for the era, but sometimes
authentic can be taken too far...

Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis ... again, great movie, great
singer (darling Margaret O'Brien) ...but I never could figure out
 whether those are puffed-up bangs or long hair tortured forward ...

Rudy Vallee ... popular singer, cute face ...
sharply defined hair part and what
looks like 3 cans of Brylcreem ...

Young and beautiful Joan Crawford ... but let's face it,
no decent streetwalker would wear that hairbow!

Silent film star Valkyrien ... I don't know how I feel about the
hair ... but look at that gigantic bonnet thing ...

William Holden in Sabrina ... it's hard to find any picture that
makes Holden look bad ... but yellow hair?  I don't think so ...

I really don't mean to pick on Joan, but she had some weird do's ... same
bangs (?) as Judy, with a groove in the center, but with puffs of hair on
each side ... In the 1920's, they used to call those "cootie garages" ...

I have no idea who this lady is .. it is a happy day for her,
but why did 1920 fashion designers create headgear that came
so far down on the forehead that it looked positively neanderthal ...

Hope you had fun with this look at what are, in my humble opinion, some pretty bad do's!


  1. Wow - I was feeling good before I reads this - now I feel a little seasick! I agree about all of them - especially Bill Holden in yellow hair - why? WHY? I also agree about Judy's wig - you'd think a big studio like MGM could have done better. All that is missing is Barbara Stanwyck's bad wig from "Double Indemnity." I swear, it gave Phyllis such a headache that she had to kill someone. A fun post!

  2. Becky, I'm back from Blogger limbo! Yay, apparently I can leave a comment as long as I don't use my Google account! :-) Anyway, this tonsorial tutorial about Godawful Hairstyles of the Stars had me laughing out loud! Joan Crawford and company must have ticked off the studio hairstylists pretty badly to make them look like this! :-) Nice work!

  3. While researching my post for the CMBA blogathon a couple of weeks ago, I read somewhere that William Holden was a natural blonde who went dark for his role in Golden Boy, and the "tall, dark, and handsome" aura created by the new look eventually became his predominant on-screen persona. So the hairdo in Sabrina was a literal return to his lighter roots. But I think we're all so used to seeing him with the dark hair that anything else seems strange and off-putting!

  4. Well, Blogger is making me cmoment as "Anonymous" on my own blog! But it's me, ClassicBecky!

    FlickChick, thanks, and how could I have forgotten Barbara in that hideous wig?

    Dorian, thanks -- I agree about Joan for sure, and I love your term "tonsorial tutorial"!

    Brandie, I did not know that about Holden! He sure looks better in dark hair -- his skin doesn't seem to go with blonde! Interesting...

  5. That note about Holden's natural blond hair reminds me of people's complaints about Winona Ryder's harshly blond hair in Edward Scissorhands, only to be reminded that the whole dark brunette look she had going before was a dye job.

    To the list of bad hair days, I will add Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon (sad because the frizzy perm doesn't do her justice) and Gene Tierney's "old lady hairdo" at the end of Heaven Can Wait, when she has to play middle-aged.

    Mary's look:


    Gene's look can be found here (if you're willing to scroll for it):


  6. This is John. Blogger is acting strange, or maybe it is me, as I cannot sign in via goggle. Anyway, this is funny stuff and makes me not so bad when i have that Rathbone look.

  7. Ugh! that last line should read "makes me not feel so bad when I have that Rathbone look."

    - John

  8. I have to post as Anonymous again, but it's me, Becky!

    Rachel, Ryder a blonde too? I thought her skin didn't match it either! Great links -- I remember elegant Mary Astor's frizzy hair very well, but had to look for Gene's -- weird!

    John, don't tell me you would do that to your hair on purpose. Maybe waking up that way ... mine does strange things in the morning. LOL!

  9. Sherlock had other things on his mind, what with Nazis and secret weapons and disguises and what not. No. Doesn't work. There is no excuse for that do on our Basil.

  10. It's me, ClassicBecky -- Blogger won't allow me to post with my Google account on my Own BLOG. Yes, Sherlock was busy during the war -- I always wished they would have focused more on Conan Doyle's great stories with Basil/Nigel as that great team! And how that hair got past the producer, director, crew, I'll never know!

  11. As one who started losing most of his hair while still in high school, I'm actually jealous of Basil's do in that Sherlock Holmes film. Gotta agree about Holden though. Most entertaining post, Becky.

  12. Hi Kevin! Blogger is up to its old tricks again, and I still have to post as Anonymous!

    I'm glad you enjoyed my little post. Don't be jealous of THAT hair -- I like bald men! They can look very distinguished, and for some reason, smart!

  13. I'm the obvious exception, I suppose. I never minded that swept forward do on Basil. He usually wore that particular hairstyle in the later Holmes pix, i.e. Sherlock Holmes in Washington. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror and of course, the one you mention.

    Maybe it as supposed to make him look more like an intellectual? Who knows. But the others you show were just plain awful. Poor Joan Crawford.

    I think those bangs on Judy Garland were supposed to make her look as if she had a higher forehead or maybe a longer face.

  14. It's me Yvette - still being forced to sign in as Anonymous (what a pain!) Glad to see you here! Well, Basil's hair didn't sit well with me, but as I said, it is only my humble opinion -- all friends' opinions are valued! LOL! And, it's always true that Basil has that fabulous face!

    Poor Joan is right. She was so fashion conscious, I'm surprised that she didn't see how weird those hairstyles are!

  15. nice, fun post...learned a little something too...I think BASIL had that "weird do" in at least one other HOLMES film...only GOD knows what they were thinking!!

  16. Blogger is still hinky - but it's me, Becky. LOL, Doc! You're so right - of course God knew about it, and was probably shaking His head in disbelief as well!

    You and Yvette have reminded me that his hair was like that in 2 other shows, SH in Washington and SH and the Voice of Terror. But those movies weren't much better than his hair!

  17. Hey Becky,
    Thanks for the smile. I really enjoyed reading your post. I never undersood Judy Garland's hair style in the film, Meet Me In St. Louis.

    Dawn, from N and CF.

  18. Hi Dawn! Glad you stopped by! Blogger is driving me crazy - what's with the problems commenting on our own blogs? Ack! Glad you enjoyed this.........Becky

  19. Becky,
    Oh my gosh this post is awesome! Poor Joan. She certainly had some bad hair years. I thought for sure Muni would get an honorable mention for his Scarface hair then uhmmmm Shearer! Hellllo lol

    I love these posts and I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

  20. Here I am, still having to post as Anonymous -- it's me, Becky! Thanks, Page -- I didn't feel I should include Norma because of your hilarious take on her hair in "The Women"! How could I have forgotten Muni's weird middle-parted hair? It fits right in here. These kind of posts are fun to put together, aren't they. I must admit my favorite picture here is not even of hair, but that bizarrely huge bonnet thing on silent star Valkyrien -- I wonder if she had incredibly thick hair and it's all stuffed up in there? LOL!

  21. Who is this Anonymous who claims to be ClassicBecky?? Becks, this post was a riot. I was about to comment that Bette's LITTLE FOXES 'do was the worst, but then I scrolled down and saw Joan with the bow.

  22. Rick, it's me, it's me, I swear! Blogger is cramping my style and stealing my identity!

    Glad you liked this post. I needed something a little fun after all the deeper stuff for the gangster series and blogathon. Oh, Joan with the bow! Joan with ANY of those do's!

  23. Judy Garland's hair in Meet Me In St. Louis drives me nuts, and that pic of Joan Crawford with the bow in her hair makes her look like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. Great post.

  24. I agree with you, Erin. In fact, I am convinced that someone doctored this Madonna photo and pasted Joan's face on it.

  25. Good Lord, Joseph! I just looked at that picture, and the outfit is exactly the same! It HAS to be a doctoring job, and it is ingenious! Or, then again, maybe somebody doctored Joan's photo and put Madonna's face on it! LOL! Great catch, Joseph!

  26. I agree--it is ingenious, and when I first saw the Joan image, I thought, "Not even Madonna's 'street urchin' look was original?!" This Joan-as-Madonna image has become a bit of a meme and probably thrives on expectations that Madonna always imitates old Hollywood (or some other source) because she's imitated so many people before (Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, several Horst P. Horst photos, etc.). This link shows a Joan Crawford pic that supposedly was used for this Photoshopping, and when I looked at the Joan-as-Madonna image, I realized that her irises do appear manipulated--and that the cigarette hanging out of her mouth was rather sloppily added.

  27. This is hilarious! I had to stop more than once to catch my breath, I laughed so hard. And "cootie garages"? I've never heard of that in my life. One would think something called a cootie garage wouldn't be on the head...

    Thanks for the laugh!

    - Java

    1. Hi Java! I'm tickled that you found this and liked it -- I love making people laugh. Do you believe some of these -- ugh! I remember reading that phrase "cootie garages" about hairstyles of that period, and I laughed too. I've got to get over to your blog! I've been absent for a while, but I'll be coming around!