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Overview for Sharaff




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Also Known As: Irene Sharaff Died: August 16, 1993
Born: January 23, 1910 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Profession: Costume-Wardrobe ... costume designer scenic designer art director


Renowned costume designer who established herself creating the witty, fluid and stylish costumes for the classic Broadway musicals of the 1930s, 40s and 50s (including "As Thousands Cheer" 1933, "On Your Toes" 1936, "I'd Rather Be Right" 1937, "The Boys from Syracuse" 1938, "Lady in the Dark" 1941, "The King & I" 1951, "West Side Story" 1957, "Funny Girl" 1964, and "Sweet Charity" 1965). Lured to Hollywood by MGM in 1942 because of reputation for accuracy of detail in period costuming and skill in designing for fantasy sequences and musical numbers, Sharaff's first assignment ironically was for "Madame Curie" (1943), where she had little to do but design lab smocks. The next year, however, she joined the legendary Freed unit at its inception and first made her mark in film with Vincente Minnelli's precisely realized period musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944), followed by his strikingly stylized if not entirely successful, "Yolanda and the Thief" (1945).

Sharaff's distinctive style--bright splashes of vibrant primary colors set off against delicate backgrounds; subtle gradations of color for chorus costumes; and flattering, womanly shapes for such stars as Judy Garland ("A Star is Born" 1954), Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl" 1967 and "Hello, Dolly!" 1969) and four times for Elizabeth Taylor (including "Cleopatra" 1963 and "The Taming of the Shrew" 1967)--won her five Oscars and eleven nominations. Her fluidly moving, richly adorned designs enhanced almost all the major film musicals made from Broadway hits during the 1950s and 60s including such well-remembered efforts as ""Brigadoon" (1954), "Guys and Dolls" (1955), "The King and I" (1956), "Porgy and Bess" (1959), "West Side Story" (1961) and "Hello, Dolly!" (1969) as well as such dramatic films as "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) and "The Great White Hope" (1970).

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