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Oct 31, 2011

"Would you believe Jane Wyman?" and other Halloween hash


It can't be ignored so why try?  Today is Halloween whether we like it or not.

Curmudgeon that I am, I consider Halloween exclusively a children's holiday and always have.  I don't think I've ever participated as an adult.  For one thing, my teeth can no longer handle Sugar Daddies and Mary Janes, and Halloween isn't Halloween without Sugar Daddies...



Maybe it's that I dress up strangely often enough that I don't feel the need for another opportunity.  This year, however, after our little cabaret adventure, I felt it would insensitive not to give poor Cathy a call, and see if she'd be free for some evening festivities. 

I suggested she dress up as Jane Wyman.

Well!  She didn't like that one bit!



Friends, many of you are no doubt familar with Oscar-winning actress Jane Wyman, perhaps from her Eighties-era evening soap, Falcon Crest, or maybe you know that she was married to then-B actor Ronald Reagan, before Mervyn Leroy introduced him to Nancy (how do I know these things?).

Jane's best-remembered films today are probably the two technicolor melodramas she made in the mid-Fifties directed by Douglas Sirk and co-starring Rock Hudson -- Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows.



Cathy's response to my suggestion was to ask, Seriously, who dresses up for Halloween as Jane Wyman, and do they get any candy?  Then she hung up her princess phone on me.  She thinks she most closely resembles Audrey Hepburn.



I think you'll agree that the resemblance between mid-century Jane Wyman and my cousin is remarkable, especially when dressed in opera-length gloves and McCall's 9152.

I am very fortunate that the big Halloween parade takes place just a stone's throw from my apartment (If you have a very strong throwing arm), and we are invited to a late dinner with friends on the Upper West Side.  Will we be able to stay up that late?  That's always the question since we're all very early-to-bed types here.  (I was under the covers by 10 pm last night.)

Doesn't Jane -- I mean Cathy -- look lovely in her cocktail dress and faux white mink stole?





Should Cathy tell people she's dressed as Jane Wyman, or is this simply an invitation to derision?



Friends, in closing, I must ask you: Do you dress up for Halloween?  If you do, do you actually leave the house or just sit around watching football and waiting for trick-or-treaters?

Have you ever dressed as something/someone so obscure that nobody knew what you were talking about?  Did you care or was it enough that it was your private joke?

Finally, if you were going to dress as Jane Wyman for Halloween, would you wear a little adhesive name tag that said "Hello, my name is Jane Wyman" or would you just wait to be asked?

Whether you're participating or not, Happy Halloween, everybody!

30 comments:

  1. My mother, a lovely woman to this day, was often complimented in her youth for her uncanny resemblance to Jane Wyman. So I think she might have been Jane Wyman for just about every Halloween.

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  2. I've never understood the [sex]appeal of Jane Wyman. She has always looked like a boring housewife to me. I think it's her very unglamorous hair -- those silly little girl bangs. And anyone who would marry Ronald Reagan -- well, 'nuff said.

    I don't do Halloween, either. I loved it as a kid (back in the days where kids actually went out after dark).

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  3. Oh, Kristin, how could you...?

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  4. I had no idea who Jane Wyman was/is but Cathy's dress is gorgeous!

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  5. Interesting... Jane's hair doesn't look natural, and looks almost like a wig. Of course, this isn't a problem for Cathy.

    Cathy will have a great time meeting the other party goers, and telling them about her wardrobe choice.

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  6. I haven't done Halloween dress-up since I was a little kid. Although I do have a pair of Halloween earrings (skeletons), which I forgot to put on this morning.

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  7. I had no idea who Jane Wyman was. You might need a lengthier name tag. Perhaps with a photo like at school reunions. I still dress up. Love the excuse.

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  8. My favorite Jane Wyman movie is Johnny Belinda, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar in 1948. I thought she played Spock's mother on the original Star Trek, but I don't see that in her IMDB listing, so I must be thinking of someone else.

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  9. I totally do Halloween--I suppose I am technically still to a certain extent a kid (in school?), but I don't see myself stopping anytime soon either. If I had nowhere to go I don't think I would dress up...seems a bit silly. That said, my idea last night of "somewhere to go" that justified a costume was over to a friend's to drink beer and watch "Halloweentown," the Disney Channel Original Movie...

    As to the name tag issue: make them ask. Always make them ask. The burden of figuring it out is on them. Plus it starts fun conversations!

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  10. I usually do dress up on Halloween to go out with friends and to take my nephews trick-or-treating. Sadly, this year my adult plans were cancelled b/c of the freak snow storm and today I am still without power or train service. So it's a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go...

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  11. My husband and I went dressed as a Steampunk couple on Saturday night, and it was loads of fun! Dressing up in costumes is a real stress buster, I think. It makes people smile (although some of them may actually be laughing AT you, not with you), and is a good conversation starter. I think the kids that wear their costumes to the playground, supermarket, etc. have the right idea-life needs to be a bit more fun. My husband wore his outfit to the office today, even though no one else there dressed in costume. He is having a great time! I just saw this quote the other day, attributed to George Bernard Shaw- "We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing". So put on something silly, and be a kid today...Happy Halloween!

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  12. Cathy looks great in both dresses, but the evening outfit is gorgeous. The stole is to die for. I think Cathy has her hair styled spot on to Jane’s. And I love her sunglasses in the first picture. Don’t wear a name tag, let people figure it out.

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  13. Anonymous, I believe that was Jane Wyatt, better known as Margaret Anderson on "Father Knows Best," playing Spock's mother.

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  14. Does anybody have an ivory satin clutch bag I can borrow?

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  15. I don't dress up. My brother did, but it had more to do that he was in charge of planning the congregation's Halloween party than any actual desire to do it. So I made him a fedora (he has a large head) to convert into an Inspector Gadget hat and his co-chair was Penny.

    Otherwise, my participation was making pumpkin costumes and pumpkin cookies. They're sugar cookies with an orange-colored vanilla glaze and decorated with candy faces. Bit had fun (and was silly) making monster pumpkins! If we get any trick-or-treaters tonight, which is doubtful, they'll be getting our homemade goodies!

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  16. I also thought that Jane Wyman was Spock's mother... however she DID play Jane Seymour's mother in Dr Quinn. So there.
    I don't do Halloween though my 16 year old daughter did dress up as what she called a "Showgirl" (but she meant someone from Chorus Line) and went out last night. I had to explain the difference to her. Showgirl is Rio or Moulin Rouge!
    I'm in the midst of making a costume that I was GOING to wear when one of the famous artists from the Wonder Woman comic was going to be visiting our shores next year - having done Wonder Woman a couple of times I decided to move onto her mother. And now Mr Perez has cancelled anyway :-( But of course very few people (even in the comics-geek world I suspect) will know who Hippolyta is, so I'll just be telling them I'm a greek goddess instead. But _I'll_ know!

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  17. Love your blog and happy Halloween to you! Liverpool/UK

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  18. I always dress up for Halloween, and probably always will. This year I just put on a bunch of random costume bits that I'd been wanting to make. I didn't really have a name for the final product, and was a little disappointed that no one would know who I was but, strangely enough, every one guessed "imaginary friend," which is what I would have called myself if I'd thought of it. Perfect.
    Wear the name tag.

    Cheers!

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  19. No name tag. I say, make them ask. It's all part of the fun of dressing up.

    My kids go out for trick-or-treating every year, and we don't dress up to accompany them. However, Oldest is making murmurs of being "too old" to trick-or-treat so we've decided that we will be making plans for next year's Halloween -- either to host a party or to attend one. I guess that gives me a year to make a costume. I'm probably going to be something obvious though, like Red Riding Hood.

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  20. A dear friend's birthday is on Halloween; she once had a costume party for her 30th. The theme was movies appropriate for Halloween. I came as the armless mother from the film Santa Sangre (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098253/), which for some reason I had thought to have been more well known at the time than, in fact, it turned out to be. Nobody had a clue what I was banging on about.I'd even brought a young man with me to be my arms. (He hadn't seen it either.)

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  21. Halloween was my favorite party night of the year through college and beyond. Now my Halloween thrills are experienced vicariously through my kids. In New Jersey this year, Halloween has been declared for this Friday, 11/4, because of the downed power lines everywhere threatening to fry all the little ghosts and goblins.

    For myself, I am drawn to completely inappropriate costumes. I had the idea to dress as Lisbeth Salander this year. Just as well that the party I was planning on going to last Saturday was called due to weather. Everyone there would have been really afraid of me for pretty much ever.

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  22. Peter, first time (not the last!!!) on your blog after reading your delightful article in VoguePatterns (with relish and extreme ENVY -- any chance you're ready to unload that grasshopper?) I am appalled that Jane Wyman has become so obsolete. Tell Cathy that she really does have a remarkable resemblance to Jane Wyman, BUT -- if you're going to be Jane for Halloween, you have be her when she got really old and smarmy and mascara-ey with red lipstick and rhinestones...-- THAT's how you get candy for your costume....

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  23. I find myself nodding my head in agreement - Halloween is a holiday for children. I have no natural desire to dress up. However, when everyone gets together for a party at work, and silly behavior rules, I feel an impulse to participate.
    The work party was Friday, and just today I went through some old boxes and found a few costumes I had sewn for my daughter over the years. Drat! I could have easily put together a silly outfit with these old treasures and now I must wait an entire year for another opportunity.
    You are lucky you dress up more often.

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  24. I LOVE to hand out candy to the kids in the neighborhood on Halloween. Too chilly for the littlest ones this year, though, sadly. We did have one kid dressed in a pinstriped suit, carrying a briefcase labeled "the 1%" though. Best costume this year.

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  25. I dressed as Mondo from Project Runway last year! Pretty obscure but I thought I looked so cute (tight black knee-length cut-offs, black and white mini gingham dress shirt, black suspenders, brown loafers and grey knee socks, mustard bow tie!) that I didn't care much. I mean, I SHOULD have won the costume contest (or even been entered in it...) for accuracy, but whatever...

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  26. I think with a little eyebrow pencil Cathy could rock Jane Wyman. Except that I think Cathy is prettier.

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  27. Geez Peter, you really like to stir the pot, don't you? If Cathy chooses to identify with Audrey Hepburn rather than Jane Wyman then so be it. Be prepared for a flurry of backlash if you keep stirring Cathy LOL...a woman scorned.....i'll say no more. ;P

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  28. We don't do Halloween in my part of the world, but I would like to thank Cathy for bringing us your, er, her view of Jane, whom I adore - Jane, that is, not Cathy - oops, although I think Cathy is lovely... And my very favourite film of Jane's is Magnificent Obsession - I love the dramatics and pathos!

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  29. as a matter of fact, Peter, I DO have an ivory satin clutch bag. Should I photograph it before posting it to you?

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  30. I know I’m a little late (it's been a terrible month), but…

    I think each piece of art should be interpreted by the viewer. Cathy sees Audrey Hepburn; some of us see Jane Wyman. Perhaps someone else sees Gina Lollobrigida.

    I’m still jealous of that rose dress, dammit.

    And yes, I have dressed for Halloween in something so bizarre that people didn’t get it even after they were told what I was ... don’t ask.

    Belated congrats on your show!

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