Guys In Girls' Garb

Discussion in 'The Front Parlor' started by LizzieMaine, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    We've had a popular "Girls in Guys Garb" thread on the Lounge for years, so how about the opposite? Female impersonation was a popular genre on stage and in film for much of the Era, and some of its practitioners could be quite fetching.

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    Julian Eltinge, best-known female impersonator of the first half of the twentieth century.

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    Bert Savoy, with -- ah, straight man -- Jay Brennan. "Brennan and Savoy" were one of the top Broadway comedy teams of the twenties, and after Savoy's death Brennan tried to recapture the magic by teaming with the female comic Ann Butler -- who was, for all intents and purposes, a female female impersonator. Savoy essentially created the wisecracking, larger-than-life drag-queen persona that's still popular today.

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    Eddie Cantor mixes it up with Charlotte Greenwood and The Goldwyn Girls in "Palmy Days." Cantor had such an affinity for cross-dressing that he would from time to time appear in drag for his live radio shows to whip up studio-audience laughs.

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    Bert Wheeler, vamping it up for Robert Woolsey in the pre-code comedy classic "Peach O'Reno."

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    Charlie Chaplin giving Charles Insley the business as "A Woman."

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    Roscoe Arbuckle as "Miss Fatty," with a lovesick Buster Keaton in "Night Nurse."

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    Wallace Beery as "Sweedie" turns the charm on Ben Turpin in "Sweedie Learns To Swim."

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    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as their own wives in "Twice Two."

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    And Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas gives Spanky something to think about, c. 1935
     
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  2. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    One of my younger sister's high school classmates does that professionally. It is apparently making a comeback. They've been touring for quite a while now He started out doing movie makeup and worked into this deal from there somehow.
     
  3. Nobert

    Nobert Practically Family

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    And the most controversial thing about this situation back then was probably the notion of an interacial couple.
     
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  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There was always a lot of gender fluidity in "Our Gang." Going back to the silent days, the gender of the character of "Farina," played by Allen Hoskins, was kept deliberately ambiguous until he was about eight years old -- and when Buckwheat came along, this quirk was resumed to an even greater degree. The character was originally intended to be Stymie's little sister -- and was first played by Stymie's real-life sister. After Stymie retired from the Gang, Buckwheat remained behind, but was still referred to as "she" and "her," even after Billie Thomas started playing the part. It wasn't until he had been playing the role for two years that Buckwheat unambiguously became a boy.

    There was quite a bit of speculation in the movie-fan press around 1935-36 as to Buckwheat's true gender, just as there had been about Farina in the 1920s. Dissertations could be, and probably have, been written on the peculiar intersection of gender and racial politics that made this possible.
     
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  5. ..er..no thanks..o_O
     
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  6. HadleyH1

    HadleyH1 One Too Many

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    ^^^ :p:D

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  7. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Charlie Chaplin and Alec Guinness
    chaplin.jpg alec guinness.jpg
     
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

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    Here's another "Our Gang" veteran who enjoyed camping it up -- this is Johnny Downs, fifteen years after leaving the Gang but back on the Roach lot for "All American Co-Ed," a 1941 "streamliner" that has to stand as one of the kinkiest pictures of the post-Code era. Downs is a college boy who is also a very convincing young lady when he wants to be, and who is recruited by his fraternity brothers to put his unusual talents to use in infiltrating a nearby women's college as a prelude to wacky antics. The picture opens with a very impressive chorus-girl song and dance number which tends to take first-time viewers very much by surprise when they realize that not all is as it seems.

    "All American Co-Ed," despite being a cheap low-budget picture actually earned two Oscar nominations for the excellent quality of its music. Johnny Downs, however, was inexplicably passed over for Best Actress.
     
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  9. I don't think that this is what 'girls in guys garb' was trying to represent. You moved into something else somewhat comical at first but then into a perverse angle. Oh but I see that you moved your part of the thread and also renamed it.
     
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  10. HadleyH1

    HadleyH1 One Too Many

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    I agree
     
  11. HadleyH1

    HadleyH1 One Too Many

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    yep ! I posted this before but funnily it was deleted so I post it again...ok?


    totally agree with you HossierDaddy!:)

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  12. Hadley..it wasn't deleted. It is still posted above..or at least I still see it.
     
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  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

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    Jack Benny as Gracie Allen, a bit that he did quite often with George Burns after Gracie's retirement. As Phil Harris used to say, "Put a dress on Jack, and you can take him anywhere."
     
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  14. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    It's only recently, in my understanding, that young girls and boys had their gender codified in clothing. Most girls and boys wore dresses while in diapers. For good reason... cloth diapers are enough of a pain without having to take on and off pants. Small dresses are easier for the home seamstress to sew than tiny pants. Also, having to have 2 warddrobes for your young kids of different genders is a waste.

    I have a boy and a girl and good grief, we went through so many clothes as babies. I would have preferred to dress them both in green and yellow, as those are some of my favorite colors. But we got tons of gifted and hand-me-downs (which we were very thankful for) that were "gendered." And it turns out, past the 3 month stage, there's not a lot of green and yellow.
     
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  15. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep, the heavy gendering of small children began in the early 20th century, with little boys generally getting put into short pants that buttoned to their shirts around the time they started to walk. The pants that Mickey Mouse wears, with the big yellow buttons, are a reference to this style. But 19th Century little boys generally had an extremely androgynous look until they were old enough to go to school --

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    Franklin D. Roosevelt at the age of three.

    The suffocating pink-and-blue habit is largely a postwar affectation, borne out of that era's fixation on rigid gender coding. Prewar baby clothing in yellow or green or gray or other neutral colors was much much more common than it is today -- prewar Dr Dentons *only* came in a sort of heathered grayish cream -- due in large part to the realization that it would be handed down to the next kid that came along regardless of gender -- if not to one's own kid, than to a cousin or some random kid in the neighborhood.
     
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  16. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    I love babies in gray, black, and white. (White is totally impractical.) I made my daughter a few black outfits when she was a toddler and she was stunning.

    With our son, we chose not to find out the gender while I was pregnant. You have no idea how horrified this made people: "what if it's a BOY? You're going to dress him in pink when he's born?" (We had the clothes from our daughter.) I think that contributed to the flood of blue things the following week from everyone.

    We also had a pink car seat. It had been an extra given for a baby girl, then went to a friend who had a boy.... then another friend with a boy... then me. That's how I predicted our second was going to be a boy. Because more boys used that seat than girls. I gave it to a family... Also expecting a boy.
     
  17. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The knowing-the-gender thing that's common today has only exacerbated the fixation on pink-and-blue. When my mother was pregnant with her first child, pretty much everything that she got at her baby shower was yellow, because that was the safe choice for babies. I ended up inheriting most of that stuff, as did my sister, and my younger brother.

    The idea of a car seat having a gender is the most ridiculous thing the Boys have ever come up with. A seat only has gender if you're speaking French.

    Meanwhile, there's this:

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    Oh, Marion.
     
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  18. Nobert

    Nobert Practically Family

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    Just to get the obvious one out of the way:

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    I never realized that Jack Lemmon is taller than Tony Curtis. Maybe he's just got higher heels.
     
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  19. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There were plans for a "Some Like It Hot" TV series in 1961, with Lemmon and Curtis signed to reprise their roles in the pilot. But they weren't committed to do a series -- the idea was that, in the pilot, Lemmon and Curtis would find themselves on the run from the mob again, and that they would both get plastic surgery to change their faces. When the bandages came off they'd be Dick Patterson and Vic Damone. The pilot was actually shot -- with Tina "Ginger" Louise cast in the Marilyn Monroe role -- but for some inconceivable reason the series wasn't picked up.

    The notoriously famous cross-dressing director Edward D. Wood Jr. once named Tony Curtis as a real-life member of Hollywood's transvestite community, and said that on one memorable night he was among the company when Curtis and group of cronies raided the wardrobe department at Universal. Wood is not the most reliable of sources, but stranger things -- Jeff Chandler in an evening gown -- have happened.
     
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  20. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yet another bit of gender-twisting courtesy of Hal Roach Studios. Here's Spec O'Donnell, everyone's favorite freckle-faced teenaged brat of the silent era, making kootchy-koo with character comic Max Davidson, who is playing Spec's own father. Mama is just about to walk in on this highly fraught scene from the hilarious two-reeler "Don't Tell Everything."

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    The plot that led to this scene beggars belief. Papa has married Mama without telling her that he has a son, and Son decides that if he can't live with Papa openly, then the only thing for him to do is become a girl and be the family maid. Which he does, with remarkable alacrity. A subsequent scene in the picture finds him being chased down the street wearing nothing but a chemise, a garter belt, and stockings. Good clean wholesome family fun.
     
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