Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane (Kumulchek) in 'Some Like It Hot' Designed by Orry- Kelly
Fitted 1920's style dress, with sheer fabric from the bust up, flesh colored silk from bust down with extremely low cut back, beaded heavily at bust area, ornamented with gold sequins in a wash pattern on silk areas with clear bead tassels, heart shaped cut on at rear surrounded by red beads and drops; swans down stole attached to chiffon backing.
"All Time Movie Favorites," Joel W. Finler, Octopus Books, 1977, pg. 136 (photo). "Hollywood Costume, Glamour! Glitter! Romance," Dale McConathy/ Diana Vreeland, Balance House Book, 1976, pg. 237 (photo); "Immortals of the Screen," Ray Stuart, Bonanza Books, 1965, pg. 179 (photo); "Screen World." 1960, Daniel Blum, Chilton Company, pg. 30. (photo).
When Some Like It Hot was released in 1959, the Orry-Kelly costumes offended so many puritan moviegoers that it prompted a statewide ban in Kansas and an “adult entertainment” restriction in Memphis, Tennessee. The reason? The film’s plot is centered around the taboo of two men cross-dressing, and star Marilyn Monroe wears a dress that is so revealing that it stops just short of granting the actress her first nude scene. Monroe’s performance as Sugar Kane, the band’s gold-digging singer/ukulele player, is often cited as her best role. Her acting talents are spot on, but when she turns on the patented Monroe charm and smolders through a few musical numbers, it’s impossible not to goggle at her physical attributes, too. Thanks to the skills of top costume designer Orry-Kelly, audiences didn’t notice the actress was pregnant or apparently mind that she was 10 years older than her character’s 24 years. In its review of the film, the New York Times admitted “[Monroe’s] figure simply cannot be overlooked.” In his 2003 book The Great Movies, Roger Ebert describes a scene in which Monroe drops jaws while singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” in a nude-colored cocktail dress as, “a striptease in which nudity would have been superfluous.” The dress in question looks, at first glance, like Monroe is not wearing a dress at all. Made of nude silk, dyed to match her skin and a sheer souffle from the breasts up and a few silver and white beads strategically placed in order to squeeze past the strict Production Code.. Monroe wears no bra, and the back of the dress falls into a deep V that stops just in the nick of time. Movie costumes often use hidden padding and weights to give the wearer a perfect shape, but this dress covers as little of Monroe’s famous shape as was legally possible. According to co-star Curtis, Orry-Kelly fit Monroe’s dresses by tying a string around her legs just where her bottom ended so he knew exactly where the fabric should cling and then sewed the garment onto her. In the end, the Code refused to approve the movie, but the film was a hit at the box office anyway. (The Code was phased out by the current ratings system in 1968, thanks in part to the popularity of supposedly risqué movies like "Some Like it Hot").
“Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane (Kumulchek) in 'Some Like It Hot' Designed by Orry- Kelly,” Film Costume Collection, accessed June 6, 2023, https://filmcostumecollection.omeka.net/items/show/1392.
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