- NAME: Edith Head
- OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
- BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1897
- DEATH DATE: October 24, 1981
- Did You Know?: Edith Head won eight Academy Awards for her work during her lifetime—more than any other woman.
- Did You Know?: In 1923, Edith Head was named head designer at Paramount Studios—becoming the first woman to hold such a position at that time.
- EDUCATION: Los Angeles High School, University of California, Berkeley, Chouinard Art Institute, Stanford University, Otis Institute
- PLACE OF BIRTH: San Bernardino, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
- Originally: Edith Claire Posener
- AKA: Edith Posener
- AKA: Edith Head
Best Known For
Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards. She's known for films such as All About Eve, Roman Holiday and The Sting.
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Born on October 28, 1897, Edith Head became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal Studios. Hollywood's best-known designer, Head's costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), Rear Window (1954), The Sting (1973) and The Big Fix (1978).
"Fashion is a language. Some know it, some learn it, some never will—like an instinct."
"You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it."
"Growing old gracefully used to begin at about 35, but today women prefer to 'stay young gratefully' with thanks to designers, beauticians and plastic surgeons."
"There's no such thing as a standard size movie star, or woman for that matter."
"In terms of sheer entertainment, not in terms of my designing ... ['Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'] had everything—humor, action, romance and the two handsomest men in Hollywood."
Legendary American costume designer Edith Head was born Edith Claire Posener on October 28, 1897, in San Bernardino, California, the daughter of a mining engineer. Head relocated several times during her youth, growing up largely in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. After graduating from Los Angeles High School, she attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in letters and sciences (earning honors in French), and then went on to enroll at Stanford University, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in romance languages in 1920.
After receiving her M.A., Edith Head served a brief stint as a schoolteacher. Then, in 1923, Head landed the position of head designer at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles—becoming the first woman to hold such a position at that time.
A decade later, in 1933, Head was named chief designer at Paramount Pictures. She later worked at Universal Studios, where she became known for personally phoning producers and directors who were workinh on important films for Universal to offer her services.
Head received her first Academy Award nomination (best costume design, color; shared with designer Gile Steele) in 1949, for her design work in the 1948 film The Emperor Waltz, starring Joan Fontaine (Johanna Augusta Franziska) and Bing Crosby (Virgil Smith). She won her first Oscar (best costume design, black-and-white; shared with designer Gile Steele) in 1950, for her costume work in 1949's The Heiress.
By 1970, Head had received her 20th Oscar nomination, winning the award that year for her work on Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity (1969), starring Shirley MacLaine (Charity) and Ricardo Montalban (Vittorio). That same year, Head would work with iconic director Alfred Hitchcock for the second time (the two had worked together on Hitchcock's 1958 film, Vertigo, starring Kim Novak), on Topaz, and with George Roy Hill on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. She later called the latter film her favorite movie, stating, "In terms of sheer entertainment, not in terms of my designing ... It had everything—humor, action, romance and the two handsomest men in Hollywood."
Head's costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant.
By the end of her lifetime, Edith Head had secured her legacy as Hollywood's best-known costume designer. In 1978, Head was honored with her 24th Oscar nomination (best costume design; shared with Burton Miller), for her design work in the 1977 film Airport '77.
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