With the race to the Oscars in the final stretch, two new exhibits celebrate the Academy Awards, the glamour of the red carpet and the legacy of Hollywood.
The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building in Hollywood recently opened its annual "Celebration of Entertainment Awards," while the Sunset Marquis' Morrison Hotel Gallery is shining a spotlight on the late photographer John R. Hamilton with the exhibit "Hollywood Cool" of more than 30 of his images of legends such as John Wayne, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Kirk Douglas.
This edition of the "Celebration of Entertainment Awards," on exhibit through April 26, features set pieces from Oscar nominees such as "Boyhood," "Nightcrawler" and "Wild" along with vintage props, one of Bob Hope's honorary Academy Awards and several gowns worn by actresses on the red carpet.
The red carpet, said Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, was created by Sid Grauman when he opened his Egyptian Theatre in 1922 with Douglas Fairbanks' "Robin Hood."
"It was his idea," said Gubler. "It was the birthplace of the movie premiere with searchlights crossing the sky, a red carpet from the street to the theater entrance and celebrities being introduced over the loudspeaker."
The Hollywood Museum exhibit features a beaded dress worn by Barbara Stanwyck to the Academy Awards at the Biltmore Hotel in 1939.
"She was on loan to RKO Radio Pictures, and that wardrobe department made it for her," said Donelle Dadigan, founder and president of the museum. "It's beaded from the empire waist down. She loved to have the left side of her face photographed, and as a result, they made the dress on the left side more exquisite and detailed with rhinestones and flower designs over this entire skirt of beadwork."
RKO got a lot of use out of the dress, added Dadigan. The gown went back to wardrobe, where it was recycled for other actresses in the studio's films.
Though today's actresses are courted by designers for the red carpet and awards ceremonies and would never wear the same outfit twice, the female superstars of the past frequently wore favorite gowns or dresses to numerous events.
The display includes Marilyn Monroe's black-beaded dress, a favorite of hers created by her personal designer, Ceil Chapman. "She wore this dress for the last seven or eight years of her life," said Dadigan. "She entertained the U.S. troops in South Korea with this dress and wore it repeatedly." Dadigan was able to find a photo for the exhibit of Monroe wearing the dress at a Screen Actors Guild event in 1959.
A very different kind of outfit — one that leaves little to the imagination — is worn by Douglas in one of the photos in the Morrison Hotel Gallery's Hamilton exhibit, which begins Feb. 13 and continues through Feb. 23. Hamilton captured the buff actor on location in the desert in 1970 for his film "There Was a Crooked Man," wearing just a cowboy hat and a pair of tight white underwear.
Hamilton, who died in 1997, began as a magazine photographer and segued into movie and celebrity photography in 1956, shooting on the set of the John Ford classic western "The Searchers," which starred Wayne. Hamilton took photographs on the sets of some 77 films, including many of Wayne's well-known movies.
The Hamilton archive was recently acquired by John Wayne Enterprises and the EDA Collections and is now represented by the gallery.
Besides Douglas and Wayne, there are black-and-white images of McQueen playfully giving a crude gesture to the camera; a young Newman curled up in the doorway reading a script; a baby-faced Clint Eastwood enjoying breakfast in bed; Jayne Mansfield climbing a barn door; and Ann-Margret tooling around the set of the 1966 film "Stagecoach" on her motorcycle.
"I think all of us who photograph celebrities, we all find a muse," said photographer Timothy White, a partner in the gallery. "From the talent's perspective, they find people they like and are comfortable with and take a good picture of them. But they also allow them into their lives because they are comfortable with them. I think that's really clear in John Hamilton's case. There is an intimacy and playfulness."
What: "Celebration of Entertainment Awards"
Where: The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood
When: 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, through April 26
Admission: $5 to $15
What: "Hollywood Cool: The John R. Hamilton Archive"
Where: Morrison Hotel Gallery, Sunset Marquis, 1200 Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood
When: Feb. 13 to 23. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays