Jean Louis

Active - 1944 - 1981  |   Born - Oct 5, 1907   |   Died - Apr 20, 1997   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Romance, Musical

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Paris-born costume designer Jean Louis was holding down a profitable executive position at Hattie Carnegie when, in 1944, he was named Chief Designer for Columbia Pictures. After 15 years at Columbia, Jean Louis free-lanced briefly, then spent most of the 1960s at Universal before striking out on his own again. He was much in demand by popular but ageing actresses who wanted to continue looking their best -- and thinnest -- in their later vehicles. A 10-time Oscar nominee, Jean Louis won an Academy Award for his work on the 1956 Judy Holliday vehicle The Solid Gold Cadillac. When he was well into his 80s, Jean Louis became the third husband of another highly respected film veteran, actress Loretta Young. Louis designed at least 52 of the dresses Young wore during the dramatic opening sequence of The Loretta Young Show during the 1950s. For many viewers, seeing what Louis had designed for Loretta each week was a primary reason for watching the dramatic anthology series. One of the designer's more notable gowns was the one worn by Marilyn Monroe the night she sang "Happy Birthday" to John F. Kennedy during a gala in Washington, D.C. The gown has since been donated to the Smithsonian Institution. Jean Louis died in his Palm Springs home at the age of 89.

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