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Overview for Jean Louis
Jean Louis

Jean Louis



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Also Known As: Jean Louis Berthault Died: April 20, 1997
Born: October 5, 1907 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Paris, FR Profession: Costume-Wardrobe ... costume designer


An Academy Award nominee 14 times, Jean Louis was one of the greatest motion picture costume designers of all time, and had few equals when it came to creating gowns for the top female stars. His renown was so great that many say he defined glamour through the movies; and many of his top works, such as the "Put the Blame on Mame" gown for Rita Hayworth in "Gilda" (1946) -- which has been copied by every designer since -- and Marilyn Monroe's gown when she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" to JFK in 1962, and the flesh-colored gown Marlene Dietrich was sewn into for her Las Vegas stage debut in 1953, have become legend. Many don't recall the scripts of Loretta Young's 1950s anthology series, but few who saw the show have forgotten the 52 Jean Louis gowns she wore when she swept into the room to introduce each week's show. Jean Louis (ne Berthault) was born in France and emigrated to the U.S. in 1936 to become a chief designer for the famed Hattie Carnegie house. He began designing clothes for clients such as the Duchess of Windsor, and Hollywood stars Merle Oberon and Irene Dunne. It was Dunne who brought him another client, Joan Cohn, wife of Columbia studio head Harry Cohn. Through Mrs. Cohn's influence, Jean Louis was lured west in 1943 to become chief designer for Columbia. His first work could be seen in 1944 in such films as "Strange Cargo" and "Together Again." But after "Gilda" everyone began to take notice. Jean Louis designed Judy Holliday's gowns for "Born Yesterday" (1951), and won his only Academy Award for gowning her in "The Solid Gold Cadillac" (1956). He was the first designer to earn the screen credit "Gowns By..." Other films with his touch include Judy Garland's "A Star Is Born" (1954), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "Pillow Talk" (1959), and his last, "Forty Carats" (1973). So extensive was Louis' dominance that his 14 Academy Award nominations included multiples in a single year -- for both black and white and color films. Whether it was Lana Turner's clinging sweaters, or Doris Day's sexy wardrobe for "Pillow Talk," his work will not be forgotten. After working for Universal in the early 60s, Jean Louis left full-time studio work. Although he would continue to freelance for pictures, he devoted most of his time to his salon in Beverly Hills, where clients included Nancy Reagan. He later retired to Palm Springs in 1988. In 1993, six years after the death of his first wife, Louis married former client Loretta Young.

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