In 2018 I discovered a blog dedicated to recycled movie and television costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood up to the present. If a person comes across a costume that was in two or more films they can submit it to this blog and (eventually) the administrator will add it. The first costume I submitted was this striped outfit worn by Jean Harlow in China Seas (1935) and by an extra in Born to Dance (1935) - both MGM. In fact, I noticed it on the extra, posted on Twitter to see if anyone recognized it, had a strong feeling I had seen it on Jean Harlow, and, after some googling, found it! It was quite thrilling! You can see the post on their website here. They have an email address for submissions - I usually just tag them on Twitter but they haven't been seeing them lately. Their handle is @RecycledCostume.
Since then I have begun to notice more and more recycled costumes. I've always noticed costumes and always take screenshots of my favorite ones (the main reason I like watching the WatchTCM app on my iPad. It makes it so easy!). I've taken to scanning the extras in party/crowd scenes when watching an A movie and taking notice of the costumes on the lead actresses in B Pictures. I even take screenshots of distinctive costumes just in case I spot them in another film so I can be prepared. And sometimes I just happen to watch two movies back-to-back with a recycled costume in them (like I did in April, which I shared in my monthly "what I watched" post). If you follow me on Twitter or my blog Facebook page (where I have an album specifically dedicated to this) the recycled costumes I am sharing today will already be familiar to you. I have decided to make this a monthly feature as well. I will use my backlog if I have a month where I don't come across any. I will only be sharing costumes that I personally "discovered." This doesn't mean that someone else hasn't discovered them before me but I think this will be a fun feature!
I have had these photos of Joan Fontaine wearing this lovely robe in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) saved on my Pinterest board for a long time. This month I was watching The Falcon in Hollywood (1944) and thought the robe on an extra looked familiar, so I took a couple screenshots (the moment is so fast it was hard to get good ones). Then, while looking through my Pinterest board for something else, I noticed the photos of Joan Fontaine and realized it was the robe I had been thinking of!
There's a little bit of a catch on this one though. You'll notice the fabric is shiny on one side and flat on the other with the floral design woven in opposite. Whereas the robe is flat with a shiny collar on Fontaine, it looks all shiny on the extra. I can't tell if the collar is flat (which could mean the robe was reversible) or if it is shiny as well, which would mean it's a different robe altogether. I even watched the scene in Suspicion to see if it looked different on film then it did in the photos One thing I AM certain of is that the fabric is the same. The floral design is exactly the same on both robes (I watched the short clip multiple times to confirm). Both films are from RKO. In Suspicion the gowns are credited to Edward Stevenson, while in The Falcon in Hollywood they are credited to Renie. However, I have seen costumes reused and not credited to their original designer several times (even Adrian!).
UPDATE: In this photo the lapels and robe look the same, so maybe it is the same!
The next recycled gown I noticed was purely an accident. Again I was looking for something else in both a folder of screenshots and my Pinterest board and spotted Joan Crawford and Doris Day wearing the same lace gown! These shots are from Goodbye, My Fancy (1951) - costumes by Sheila O'Brien - and I'll See You in My Dreams (1952) - costumes by Marjorie Best and Leah Rhodes
This blue floral-banded ensemble was worn in two separate Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy films that I watched back-to-back, Sweethearts (1938) and I Married an Angel (1942). I actually took a screenshot of it in color because it looked familiar, so there may be a third wear out there. If I come across it I will add it to this post.
Another coincidental sighting was these chorus girl gowns in Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and an extra in I Married an Angel (1942). I had actually taken screenshots because I thought I might add them as a Cinema Wedding Gown (they're wearing veils in the dance number) but changed my mind and deleted them. And then of course I spotted one in the other movie... Notice the bodice decoration was removed.
The final recycle I am sharing is this unique and eye-catching striped dress worn by Lana Turner in Marriage is a Private Affair (1944) and by Audrey Totter in a publicity photo (with the grouping of flowers at the bust removed). It showed up in a Pinterest search for something else (anyone else getting odd results in their Pinterest searches the past week?).
And while we're on this movie here's another recycle I noticed a few months ago - Lana Turner in a cameo as herself in DuBarry was a Lady (1943) and Frances Gifford (with Lana Turner) in Marriage is a Private Affair! You will notice a little bit of lace was added for modesty.
I found several others (I was on a roll this month) but two of them are wedding gowns (three-peats!) that I am saving for a Cinema Wedding Gowns post and the others contain several from the same movies that I would rather do a separate post on whenever I have a slow recycled costume spotting month.
Do you like this new feature? Have you ever spotted a recycled costume before?