Dorothy Jeakins Biography

Dorothy Jeakins




Born in San Diego, California on January 11, 1914 Dorothy Jeakins attended public school in Los Angeles from first grade through high school. When she was a senior at Fairfax High School, she was offered a scholarship to study at the Otis Art Institute (now known as Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.)

Jeakins got her start working on WPA (Works Projects Administration) projects and as a Disney artist in the 1930s. Her fashion career began as a designer at I. Magnin's department store, where she was spotted by director Victor Fleming. Hired as a sketch artist for Joan of Arc (1948), Jeakins worked on the costumes along with Barbara Karinska and shared an Oscar with her. This was the first Oscar ever awarded for costumes.

Jeakins was unusual in that she freelanced, never signing a long-term contract with any one studio. She worked steadily for the next thirty-nine years, winning another two Oscars, for Samson and Delilah (1949, shared with Edith Head and others), and The Night of the Iguana (1964), and another 12 nominations. She was perhaps best known for her period costumes, in such films as The Ten Commandments (1956), The Music Man (1962), The Sound of Music (1965), Little Big Man (1970), The Way We Were (1973), Young Frankenstein (1974) and The Dead (1987). Her modern-dress excursions included Niagara (1953), Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), South Pacific (1958) and On Golden Pond (1981).

Jeakins also worked on stage productions, including South Pacific (in which "Motley" was the principal costume designer), King Lear, Winesburg, Ohio and The World of Suzie Wong (for which she received her third Tony nomination), and such television productions as the 1957 production of Annie Get Your Gun, and Mayerling. For ten years beginning in 1953, she served as designer for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company, and was curator of Los Angeles' textile and costume collection at the County Museum of Art. In 1987, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. Jeakins, who retired in 1990, once summed up her designing: "I can put my world down to two words: Make beauty. It's my cue and my private passion."

Dorothy Jeakins died in Santa Barbara, California on November 21, 1995.   (Drawn from Wikipedia and other sources)