Today’s Google Doodle celebrates what would have been the 116th birthday of Edith Head (1897-1981), the fashion icon who dressed Hollywood stars like Lucille Ball, Olivia de Havilland, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, and Bette Davis.
The San Bernadino, Calif.-native — whose birth name was Edith Claire Posener — started her career in 1923 at the Players-Lasky Studios, and eventually worked her way up from apprentice assignments to become the first female head designer at Paramount in 1938.
She won her first Academy Award for Olivia de Havilland’s “spinster” outfit in The Heiress in 1949, and seven more for her work in All About Eve, Samson and Delilah, A Place in the Sun, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, The Facts of Life and The Sting. She also worked on several Alfred Hitchcock flicks and had the daunting task of getting Vertigo star Kim Novak to wear a gray suit, even though the actress said it was the one color she would never wear, according to Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
“There isn’t anyone I can’t make over,” Head once said, per a profile of the iconic designer by a National Portrait Gallery historian. She would also call her job “a cross between camouflage and reconstruction.” In fact, the sarong that Dorothy Lamour wore in The Jungle Princess (1936), and the toreador pants that Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina (1954) and Funny Face (1957), both sparked broader fashion trends.
She passed away in 1981, shortly after working on her last film, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, which required repurposing styles from 1930s and 1940s pictures. According to Turner Classic Movies, she joked to director Carl Reiner, “I guess I’ve come full circle when I design the exact dress for Steve Martin that I did for Barbara Stanwyck. He looks very funny in it, doesn’t he?”