Beautiful portraits of the Iconic Stars, Bad Girls and Pioneering Women of Hollywood’s Golden Age

Artist Charles Gates Sheldon (1889-1960) is best known for his cover art for publications like Photoplay, the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s Magazine. His work also included advertising and book illustration. But I like to think of Charles Sheldon Gates as the man who reinvented religious iconography for the twentieth century by replacing the portraits of angels and saints with pastel portraits of the silent movie stars and Hollywood legends of the 1920s and 1930s.

Sheldon’s portraits of actresses deserve to be glorified. These women were all tough dames. Most came from blue collar backgrounds and made their own way to the top in Hollywood at a time of autocratic studio bosses and sex pest producers. Some like Clara Bow lived a life of excess and ultimately paid for it. Others like Katharine Hepburn were strong-willed and fiercely independent who relished their freedom and privacy. Many died far too young. But all had a talent to entertain, inspire and bring a little hope—the kind of thing people get from religious paintings.
The original ‘It Girl’ Clara Bow.
Clara Bow.
The original ‘sex symbol’ and ‘Blonde Bombshell’ Jean Harlow.
More icons of the silver screen, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
12:48 pm
Katharine Hepburn dressed as a super-sexy silver sci-fi insect in 1933
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“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.
Katharine Hepburn in a publicity photo for 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.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
09:27 am