“I wouldn’t have loved you if you’d been a usual man. And you wouldn’t have loved me if I’d been a woman who didn’t dress like an insect…”
The fantastic images you see here are of a twenty-six-year-old Katharine Hepburn dressed up as a shiny silver bug from outer space, from her first starring role in the 1933 film, Christopher Strong.
In Christopher Strong, Hepburn plays free-spirited aviator, Lady Cynthia Darrington who has never taken up with a man due to her intense focus on her career. Despite the sound of it, the film’s plot is fairly lurid and full of philandering characters, unplanned pregnancies and suicide. It was the only time in Hepburn’s career where she would play “the other woman” and interestingly, in Hepburn’s first film role A Bill of Divorcement from the previous year, she played the daughter of actress Billie Burke (you know her as “Glinda the Good Witch of the North” from The Wizard of Oz) whereas this time around she was playing Burke’s romantic rival.
But the real star of this film is Hepburn’s “silver moth” costume. Designed by prolific costume designer Walter Plunkett, the manager of RKO’s wardrobe department whose vast body of work includes the “curtain dress” worn by by Scarlett O’Hara (played by Vivien Leigh) in Gone with the Wind.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Katharine the Great looking more stunning than she does in these far-out images. As for the spaced-out gown itself, it was up for auction in 2002 along with other Plunkett collectables, but apparently didn’t sell.
An image of Hepburn from Christopher Strong (she’s dressed in an aviation uniform, not a silver bug) was used for a Led Zeppelin poster for their 1975 US tour.
An original sketch by designer Walter Plunkett of Hepburn’s costume for ‘Christopher Strong.’
The trailer for the 1933 film, ‘Christopher Strong.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Peek inside Cecil B. DeMille’s bizarro 1930 master-flop, ‘Madam Satan’