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HomeCraftsCostume DesignThe Academy Gift Documents Career of Michael Woulfe

The Academy Gift Documents Career of Michael Woulfe


Michael Woulfe
Michael Woulfe

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a recent acquisition by the Margaret Herrick Library of costume design drawings and related production materials documenting the career of costume designer Michael Woulfe. The collection, donated by Woulfe’s longtime friend David Jervis, features drawings, photographs, clippings and correspondence representing Woulfe’s career. Woulfe worked primarily at RKO designing costumes for such films as Clash by Night (1952), The French Line (1953), Son of Sinbad (1955) and The Conqueror (1956).

“We are honored that Mr. Jervis has generously donated items highlighting the impressive career of Michael Woulfe to our library,” Margaret Herrick Library director Linda Mehr said. “With this collection, students, filmmakers and film historians can now experience and be inspired by the work of this legendary costume designer.”

Woulfe’s career in the movie business began with the James Cagney film Blood on the Sun (1945), which marked the beginning of a long friendship between Woulfe and the movie’s female lead, Sylvia Sidney. His work captured the attention of the owner of RKO, Howard Hughes, who hired him as RKO’s head costume designer in 1949. In 1953, Woulfe became one of the founding members of the Costume Designers Guild.

Woulfe was also noted for creating personal wardrobes for actresses such as Judy Garland, Jane Russell and Jean Simmons, and for designing the employee uniforms for four Las Vegas hotels and casinos owned by Hughes, as well as the costumes for the Las Vegas nightclub shows of entertainers including Debbie Reynolds, Lena Horne and Joey Heatherton.

In addition to the costume design drawings, which have been added to the Margaret Herrick Library’s collection of more than 4,500 other such drawings, the Woulfe collection includes clippings, photographs and correspondence related to Woulfe’s work in fashion design. The collection has been preserved and cataloged, and may be accessed by filmmakers, historians, journalists, students and the public at the library, located in the Academy’s Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills. Images of drawings from the collection will be available for viewing online early next year through the Margaret Herrick Library’s Production Art database at The Library’s production art database currently includes more than 11,000 records and more than 5,200 images.

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