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    • Warner Bros. Pictures

    The Private Life of Elizabeth and Essex

    1939

    Costume seen on Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I

    • Warner Bros.

    The Sea Hawk

    1940

    Costume seen on Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I

    • Warner Bros.

    Roughly Speaking

    1945

    Costume seen on Andrea King as Barbara

Additional Images

About the Costume

The opulent gowns for the 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex were designed by Orry Kelly, head costume designer at Warner Brothers Studios.  Kelly had a wonderful career, designing famous pieces for Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and Katharine Hepburn, winning Academy Awards for best costume for Some Like it Hot, An American in Paris and Les Girls.

Bette Davis claimed that Kelly made two complete sets of Elizabethan costumes for her. Davis wanted historically accurate Elizabethan costumes, while director Michael Curtiz felt that they would be too much for the camera.  Davis won out in the end, though to look back and call the costumes ‘historically accurate’ now would not be entirely true.  It makes one wonder what the second set of costumes must have looked like.

This elaborate gown, worn by Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is, in fact, a brilliant red.  The Sea Hawk, filmed the next year in 1940, was done in black and white, and Flora Robson’s Queen Elizabeth I wears the same gown. This time it appears that a false stomacher was added by sewing on some additional fabric and trim to give it a slightly different look.  The costume appears a third time on Andrea King as Barbara in the 1945 film Roughly Speaking. 

About the Costume

Have you seen this gown somewhere else? Do you need to be given credit for this sighting? Do you have corrections, additions or changes you would like to make?

Have you ever watched a film and noticed a character walk by in a gown that you just know you’ve seen before? Recycled Movie Costumes is dedicated to documenting the life of a costume through its various appearances on film and television.

Additional Images

About the Costume

The opulent gowns for the 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex were designed by Orry Kelly, head costume designer at Warner Brothers Studios.  Kelly had a wonderful career, designing famous pieces for Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and Katharine Hepburn, winning Academy Awards for best costume for Some Like it Hot, An American in Paris and Les Girls.

Bette Davis claimed that Kelly made two complete sets of Elizabethan costumes for her. Davis wanted historically accurate Elizabethan costumes, while director Michael Curtiz felt that they would be too much for the camera.  Davis won out in the end, though to look back and call the costumes ‘historically accurate’ now would not be entirely true.  It makes one wonder what the second set of costumes must have looked like.

This elaborate gown, worn by Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is, in fact, a brilliant red.  The Sea Hawk, filmed the next year in 1940, was done in black and white, and Flora Robson’s Queen Elizabeth I wears the same gown. This time it appears that a false stomacher was added by sewing on some additional fabric and trim to give it a slightly different look.  The costume appears a third time on Andrea King as Barbara in the 1945 film Roughly Speaking. 

The opulent gowns for the 1939 film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex were designed by Orry Kelly, head costume designer at Warner Brothers Studios.  Kelly had a wonderful career, designing famous pieces for Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and Katharine Hepburn, winning Academy Awards for best costume for Some Like it Hot, An American in Paris and Les Girls.

Bette Davis claimed that Kelly made two complete sets of Elizabethan costumes for her. Davis wanted historically accurate Elizabethan costumes, while director Michael Curtiz felt that they would be too much for the camera.  Davis won out in the end, though to look back and call the costumes ‘historically accurate’ now would not be entirely true.  It makes one wonder what the second set of costumes must have looked like.

This elaborate gown, worn by Bette Davis in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is, in fact, a brilliant red.  The Sea Hawk, filmed the next year in 1940, was done in black and white, and Flora Robson’s Queen Elizabeth I wears the same gown. This time it appears that a false stomacher was added by sewing on some additional fabric and trim to give it a slightly different look.  The costume appears a third time on Andrea King as Barbara in the 1945 film Roughly Speaking. 

Credits

Sighting Credit:
  • Michael
  • Katie S.
Photos provided by:
  • Michael
  • Katie S.
Costume Designer:
  • Orry-Kelly

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