Going back to wartime, the Second World War the American government believed that a supportive home front was crucial to their country’s victory, and therefore used the cinema to keep civilian spirits high and depict the war in a positive light. They kept a lot of spies in Hollywood, and one of them was Julia Child, according to a document made public in 2008.
The government decreed that no movie would be produced if it threatened to lower the moral standards of the audience. Because of this, not a single movie was made if it encouraged the audience to sympathize crime or criminals. It became against the law to ridicule any law or any sector of the government.
Hollywood celebrities were asked to tour the country and appear advertisements or events to encourage the average citizen to purchase war bonds and to support their country in war.
The stars mostly used their pre-war clothing, especially shoes, and borrowed and lent each other. They were expected to appear as model citizens to the American public.
Although the average American did not look anything like a movie star, they were about the only colorful thing happening during wartime, and the public fell in love with the celebrities, their lifestyles and their clothing. The American culture has never fallen of love with celebrities.
After the war, Hollywood, free from government restrictions, began to make movies starring scheming, coldly beautiful and dangerous women; the femme fatales. Scripts were no longer censored and they began to be written in the way they couldn’t have been during WWII. Stars began to play women who were willing to kill husbands money or women who were gold-diggers. They wore smartly tailored clothes or New Look clothes, along with sexy stilettos with peep holes to show their polished toenails. The stylish actresses had attitudes. Hollywood became a huge fashion influence. It still is.
Marilyn Monroe was an unexpected influence on fashion. She came the limelight during World War II. At that time her name was Mrs. Norma Jeane Dougherty and she was a 19-year old war wife with a soft beauty that didn’t make women jealous, but made every man who saw her want her. Her husband was a Marine at war in the Pacific. Ronald Reagan was the Army captain who chose her first propaganda photo.
While her husband was away war, she was living with her in-laws in California and working in an aircraft factory, assembling drones. One day the U.S. Army’s Motion Picture Unit arrived to document wartime women in action. They were shooting morale-boosting pictures for the public. Norma Jeane was relaxed in front of their cameras, and the government propaganda men loved her photos. She was definitely a morale-boosting product.
Norma Jean loved the camera, too, and the new life it could bring her. Within a year, she had appeared on over thirty men’s magazine covers. Her young husband was very much against her modeling career and she moved out of his parents’ home, separated from him, became a platinum blonde, and went to eventually conquer Hollywood. The owner of her first modeling agency said she was one of the most ambitious and hard-working models of her time.
By 1946, Norma Jeane had made herself very marketable and was going by the name Marilyn Monroe. She was only 20 but had already divorced her first husband, gave her life as a factory worker and signed her first movie contract. And as you might recall, that was the year that 38-year old Christian Dior launched his New Look collection in Paris. It was called “Corolle’, meaning flower petal.
Marilyn Monroe was the perfect actress to get the American public interested in feminine body parts and model the New Look clothing. Dior had eliminated shoulder pads, making women look soft and rounded, like Marilyn Monroe. Stiletto heels became Marilyn Monroe’s signature shoe; she was rarely seen them. Almost every woman wanted to look a little bit like Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe continued to model for haute couture fashion houses for quite some time, but the New Look went through a dramatic and unexpected metamorphosis in the 1950s.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.
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In December 2019 Chinese authorities detected a new outbreak of coronavirus. This one ws officially named SARS-CoV-2, and it causes the disease COVID-19. The virus is spreading too quickly for me to write an accurate number of its victims, but you can Google today’s numbers. It was on December 31, 2019 when China alerted the [simple_tooltip content=’World Health Organization, specialized…
In the Portuguese language, people who have an attitude of boldness, sometimes disrespect or rudeness are said to have a wooden face, which is cara de pau (pau rhymes with cow in English) in Brazilian Portuguese. The expression also describes someone who is hiding their true feelings. It is used in varying degrees, from kidding a friend to angry criticism. Here is how we can say say cara de pau in English. Fill in the…
Choose the words to match the images, and then the word they form