30 September 2017

Dressing Susan Hayward

Here is an interesting correspondence between Darryl F. Zanuck, producer/studio head of Twentieth Century-Fox, and Charles LeMaire, costume designer. Zanuck was known for being a very "hands-on" studio boss, involving himself in all aspects of filmmaking. Below he and LeMaire are discussing the wardrobe of Susan Hayward in The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), i.e. Hayward's outfit for the Crillon Hotel scene with co-star Gregory Peck. Having seen the film a long time ago, I can't remember which clothes Hayward eventually got to wear in the scene or if the scene ended up in the film at all.



DATE  March 28 1952

TO Mr. Daryl Zanuck

FROM Charles LeMaire


Dear Mr. Zanuck:

I have read several times the re-write of the scene between Helen and Harry in the Crillon Hotel room. I know you have expressed a desire to have Susan play this scene dressed in lounging pajamas, but I am afraid the thing we want will be lost with covering her legs with pants and covering her top with the kind of jacket this woman would wear.

In reviewing the wardrobe Helen wears in the picture I find that she is in pants and divided skirts or a terry cloth robe most of the time. There is a short sequence where she wears a suit and only a head and shoulders when she wears a dress. 

Do you remember the green dress with the lingere [sic] lace front which I had tested for her to wear in the Crillon Hotel scene? It was under the fur coat which I had expected her to drop from her shoulders when she dismissed the waiter. This is a soft dress, the color is wonderful for her hair and skin and was designed for the interior of this room. 

I can believe this woman entering his room with a handbag and book under her arm, wearing a dress, but I can't imagine the kind of lounging pajamas she would wear into a comparatively strange man's hotel room in the morning, unless his room was part of the suite which she occupied. 

Please let me know how you feel about this.

Charles LeMaire
Left photo: Daryl F. Zanuck; right: Charles LeMaire, who won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for All About Eve (1950), The Robe (1953) and Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955).
Susan Hayward's wardrobe test for the bedroom scene at the Crillon Hotel in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. This is probably the green dress as mentioned in LeMaire's letter to Zanuck.



DATE March 28 1952

cc: Casey Robinson
Henry King
Ray Klune



Dear Charlie:

In connection with your note on the costume for the new hotel sequence at the Crillon, I think the scene will be harmed if Susan is "dressed up". We want to definitely give the impression that she lives next door or down the hall or in the adjoining suite. We also want to give the impression that it is morning and when she got up and had her breakfast she took care of ordering his.

I would like to get her in some nice clothes but one of the things that harmed the other scene was that she looked like she was visiting him from another hotel. The whole point of the scene is that when she finds him drunk she "brings him home" or at least to the hotel. 

Can't you find an interesting negligee that is rather revealing or some sort of a housecoat of the period? This will help us get over the idea that at first Harry thinks she is just a high-class tart who has picked him up.


Images of both letters via Pinterest here and here.

Susan Hayward and Gregory Peck in a scene from Henry King's The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952). I like her casual outfit here


  1. This is a fine, interesting article. I enjoyed reading it, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    By the way, I would like to invite you to join my blogathon, "The Great Breening Blogathon:" https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/extra-the-great-breening-blogathon/. It is celebrating the life and work of Joseph Breen, the enforcer of the Motion Picture Production Code between 1934 and 1954. As we honor his birthday, which is on October 14, we will be discussing and analyzing the Code era, breening films from other eras, and writing about our own ideas for classic movies. One doesn't have to agree with the Code and Mr. Breen to enjoy that! I hope you will do me the honor of joining. We could really use your talent! I know you could find some interesting letters about the Code, Mr. Breen, or something relating to the topic.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

    1. Thanks for the invite! I will let you know if I'll participate.

    2. Dear Miss Saunders,

      I just received your comment now. I look forward to hearing your decision!

      Yours Hopefully,

      Tiffany Brannan