cigarette girl

Before They Were Stars: Audrey Hepburn’s Revue Days

Audrey Hepburn London Revue Costume
In Audrey Hepburn‘s third film, the British comedy LAUGHTER IN PARADISE (1951), she played the part of “Cigarette Girl” She was cute and memorable in a role that gave her more than one scene and multiple lines. Costuming treated her body as something to be made more stereotypically sexy, so they padded and pointed her chest.

In the above picture from her London revue days, she was starting to make a name for herself, but the costuming plan was corrective as well. The long legs are shown off, but her hips are made to look fuller by tacking on a partial skirt which in turn makes her waist look more nipped. Her bust line is obscured by an asymmetric neckline and shoulder, and her elegant “swan neck” is shortened by a ruffled collar.

Her gamine figure was not yet receiving the tailored looks best suited to it. Audrey’s impact on style and acceptable body types would come after better roles.


Thanks to Terence Pepper for allowing me to reblog his photo and the thoughts it inspired!


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Accents & Sally’s Diction Lessons from Radio Days (1987)

My husband told me he heard a young actress being interviewed who pronounces her Gs the same why I do. More specifically, she uses a hard G when saying words ending in -ing. That means walking would be pronounced as walk-ing-guh. The last syllable is more of a half-syllable and softer in the throat than that looks in print. I was disappointed he could not remember which actress. I wonder if she’s simply using a more theatrical pronunciation so her G isn’t lost like some people used to assume I did?

My pronunciation is a remnant of my former regional/ethnic accent that was mostly smoothed out by my childhood speech therapist. She helped me erase more than my lisp. Now when people hear I’m from Massachusetts, they remark I don’t sound like I’m from there, but they’re thinking of the Boston accent, not the Southeastern Massachusetts one I had. Massachusetts has regional and micro-regional accents. Mine pops out when I’m very tired or sometimes when speaking with my parents.

This all makes me think of scenes from one of my favorite movies, Woody Allen‘s Radio Days. In this love letter to Old Time Radio, Mia Farrow plays Sally White, a cigarette girl aiming for radio stardom, but first she must rid herself of her Bronx accent.

Farrow is winningly adorable as Sally. She makes us laugh at Sally’s efforts without losing our sympathy. Sally is the kind of role Judy Holliday excelled at and got typecast in–the cute cookie determined to improve herself or her lot in life. Farrow is a worthy successor in playing this type when playing against her type, and she masters two accents not normally her own–the Bronx and the Hollywood Patrician.

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