It’s hard to believe that fifty years ago the iconic Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann was published. It became a huge success, becoming the most popular selling fiction of 1966 and has since sold over thirty million copies, not bad right?
The novel follows three girls; Anne, Neely and Jennifer, who follow their aspirations of becoming stars. They all meet and befriend each other as we see their lives unfold through success and failure over the next twenty years. Although a work of fiction, there have been numerous links to the characters in the novel and real life stars and a lot of the content is said to be based on the authors experience as a struggling actress.
Within a year of it’s release Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights and one of themost iconic movies of the decadewas released. Although panned by most critics as extremely over the top, the movie was a huge commercial success and has since gained a cult following. The one star of the film that received little negative criticism was Sharon Tate, who played Jennifer North, arguably the most sympathetic character of the novel and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer. Admittedly, as a huge fan of Sharon, this is the original reason I wanted to watch the film, however, after seeing it numerous times it is without doubt a 1960s classic and a must see. Not only is the glamour and clothes beautiful, but it contrasts with the darker side of materialism and fame and ultimately makes you think, is it all worth it?
To celebrate fifty years of Valley of the Dolls the book, which has sadly been out of print for some time, has beenre-releasedand is available on amazon to buy for just £6.99! I’m actually ashamed to say that although I’ve seen the film numerous times, I’ve yet to read the book! However, this is not because I didn’t want to, as I love reading, it’s just quite hard to buy for a good price as it was pretty rare. I’ve heard that the ending to the film and the novel are very different, so I look forward to comparing them and seeing which I prefer! The film is also being released on Blu-Ray this September which I am very excited about.
I think the number one reason that the novel and film are still so relevant fifty years later is because everything that Jacqueline wrote about half a century ago is still happening now! Not only is the fashion and style still being replicated and endures but the pitfalls of fame and drugs are constantly being talked about in the media. Although it is often viewed as frivolous and something to indulge in and not take seriously, it covers an extremely serious subject of addiction. It’s actually quite sad when you think not much has changed half a century on, but at least there is more awareness.
Since the book was published in 1966, it has been adapted numerous times for television and film, songs have been written, styles have been copied and the title is forever etched inside our minds.
“Everyone has an identity. One of their own, and one for show.”
Ah, Sharon, where to begin? The sixties beauty queen, the fashion setter, the determined starlet with a dream of love. These are many of the thoughts that pop into my head when I think of one of my favourite Old Hollywood Actresses. Sadly, the majority of society probably thinks of another thought – the tragedy of August 9th 1969. To many, Sharon is simply a tragic figure, a beautiful girl who was taken too soon in one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th Century. She has become entwined with an evil name, a despicable event and has gained somewhat of a cult status, but for the wrong reasons. However, as a lover of Old Hollywood, the Swingin’ Sixties and the iconic bombshells, she has become to mean a lot more to devoted fans, whose goal it is to celebrate the life of an incredible human being, who had so much more to give.
I thank Old Hollywood and ultimately, my lovely Marilyn for my discovery of Sharon. I started using Tumblr in August 2010 when I decided to make a Marilyn blog and since then, I created a personal Tumblr to share my other loves; mainly Old Hollywood. One day, I was scrolling through Tumblr as usual, looking through beautiful edits that so many kind users share with other fans and I stumbled across, Sharon. At first, I was in complete awe and thought to myself, who is this beautiful girl and why haven’t I came across her before? The blog I first saw Sharon on was named after her most popular film, Valley Of The Dolls however, I’d yet to link the two together.
Since finding Marilyn and learning so much about her, I’ve often been drawn to under appreciate and misunderstood beauties. I’ve researched and found out so much more behind the beautiful faces which sadly, many cannot see past. I’ve found their intelligence and talent is so often overlooked, simply because they are often deemed, “too pretty” to be anything else. However, these stars will always mean so much more to me.
I was so struck by this beautiful actress/model that I decided to IMDB her and find out what films she had been in, I wanted to learn more and appreciate her for more than a beautiful pin up. I looked at her birth date and seeing that it was 1943, realized she was a sixties actress, I was so excited – the 1960s being one of my favourite decades. I was already pretty knowledgeable on the 1940s and 1950s and was eager to continue past 1962. After seeing her birth date, I naturally was intrigued to see if she was still with us and what she was up to now, that’s when I saw August 9th 1969 and her age as 26 years old. I was shocked by this, I assumed her death would be tragic because of her age but, never was I expecting to see the word homicide.
I read her biography on IMDB and found out what had happened, I googled her and saw a picture of a man, a strange man and it scared me, I don’t google Sharon anymore, for obvious reasons. I told my mum what I’d read and started crying, hysterically crying, I felt so much emotion and I couldn’t control myself. After that I tried to put Sharon out of my mind, I thought to myself, I’m sure there are other lovely talented stars from the 1960s that I could learn about. However, I was still drawn to Sharon and my mum had bought me Valley Of The Dolls to watch, but I wasn’t ready to see her on film yet. I found an amazing blog on tumblr dedicated to Sharon’s memory called,lovesharontateandsharontate-polanskiand my affection for Sharon continued to grow. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had love for this beautiful human and noticed she had quite a following and for the right reasons, for the person she was, not for her untimely death.
I watched Valley Of The Dolls and learnt that her character, Jennifer North was inspired by Marilyn, I also learnt that Sharon herself was compared to Marilyn and that made me happy. Watching Sharon’s performance, I found her to be so breathtaking, she was such a natural in front of the camera and had such screen impact. Not only did I find her beauty to be astonishing, I really appreciated her talent as an actress. Her final scene in the film was so tragic and moving, I could definitely see why she was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Newcomer. Her style and look in the film was incredible and I was amazed to see that Marilyn’s friend and frequent Costume Designer, William Travilla had designed the costumes for the film! He said such wonderful things about Sharon, they always stick with me,
“Sharon Tate is divine, a real find. Just wait and see what happens when the critics and public see her in Valley of the Dolls. Sharon has everything Marilyn Monroe had and more. She has the fascinating, yet wholly feminine strength of a Dietrich or a Garbo….a classically beautiful face, an exciting figure, the kind of sex appeal and personality appeal to become as glittering a star as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor.”
It seems, no one in the industry had a bad word to say about Sharon and they clearly all adored her for her beautiful soul. After Valley Of The Dolls, I set out to watching the rest of her films. Although she’d only had the chance to make six, I was incredibly impressed to see the stars she had worked with in such a short space of time. David Niven, Kim Novak, Deborah Kerr, Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Susan Hayward, Dean Martin, Elke Sommer, Bruce Lee, Vittorio Gassman and of course, Roman Polanski. Not only was Sharon hailed as one of Hollywood’s Most Promising Newcomer’s, she was also considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, clearly it’s not hard to see why.
Pictured above is Sharon in her six motion pictures;
I enjoyed her other films thoroughly, I saw such diverse characters in only six films and it humbled me to read that Sharon didn’t think of herself as much of an actress. It seems to me, all of the best have very little arrogance about themselves and that just makes me love and appreciate them more.
I learnt about her marriage to one of the most famous Directors of our time, Roman Polanski and seeing them on film in The Fearless Vampire Killers was so heartwarming, as that’s where they fell in love with one another. I found Sharon’s official website,sharontate.netrun by Debra Tate, Sharon’s wonderful sister. I was so excited to hear Debra was releasing a photographic appreciation on Sharon’s amazing life. As far as I’m aware, it was to be the first book dedicated solely in preserving her life and memory and about nothing else. The book is simply incredible, people seem to forget that Sharon was one of the most photographed women of her time, working with the likes of, Bert Stern, Philippe Halsman, Richard Avedon, Terry O’Neill and Milton Greene and appearing in huge fashion magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Debra is so thoughtful, she’s always communicating with fans and I’ve had the pleasure to speak to her on Twitter myself. Apparently, she’s also writing another book, which is incredibly exciting!
I’ve now loved Sharon for the past couple of years and she has become one of my favourite stars, among Marilyn, Brigitte Bardot and Veronica Lake. I’ve learnt to put the awful events of August 9th 1969 out of my mind and not dwell on it or let it take over. The people and crime that took place don’t deserve any publicity and I will not give them it, that’s all I will say about the matter. For people who say Sharon is only famous for her death, I have nothing to say to them as they are missing out on such an incredible person and their ignorance is frankly offensive.
Not only do I adore Sharon as a person, but I also love her individuality and style, she is without doubt a fashion icon of the 1960s and I try and be inspired by her when I portray that style. Obviously, sometimes it is hard not to think of what happened to Sharon, when reading interviews about how much she was looking forward to the future, or seeing photos of her heavily pregnant, it is incredibly heartbreaking. But, I know Sharon wouldn’t want her fans to mourn for her death, she’d want us to appreciate what she gave to the world and remember incredible life through photos and films she gave to the world.
Sharon is more than just a Pin Up/Blonde Bombshell to me. She is a talented actress, a beautiful, giving soul who adored life and experiencing wonderful memories with her family and friends. She gave a lot to Hollywood in just four short years and it incredibly loved, just reading the quotes in Recollection, you can see how much of an impact she has left on the world.
“Ah, Sharon. The Word, “exquisite” perfectly sums up this lady. Almost otherworldly, so beautiful and sensitive, a truly gentle soul. But in no way wishy-washy, she was smart and not taken in by the shallowness of the industry. Well-grounded and natural, she was very much in tune with her life and really happy when I last saw her in London in 1969. She was such an innocent, and unspoiled by her success.”– George Harrison.
If any of you follow my Tumblr or IG Account, you will probably know by now that one of my favourite stars is Sharon Tate. I love everything about her and she was the inspiration of my look for today.
My favourite Sharon film is the 1960s classic, Valley Of The Dolls and her signature look in that film was what I was aiming for. The high top bun, nude/brown lips and winged eyeliner were my goals for today. I kept to my normal 1950s style dresses, however, my hair and face was all sixties.
Now, I am very aware I am not a patch on Sharon, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I wanted to show my love for her by using her as my inspiration for today. I’ve only recently started trying this hairdo, as I think I have a pretty big forehead, but the style has grown on me a lot. It’s a quick way to make your hair look a bit different, be warned though, if you’re wearing it in all day, your hair is bound to ache once you take it out.
Here’s the Goddess herself in a publicity still for Valley Of The Dolls (1967) Sharon is wearing Travilla, (one of my favourite designers) I’m not sure who was the Hair Stylist on the film, but I think Sharon herself did her own makeup.
I also think Sharon had hair pieces in the film, whereas I’m just using my own hair, so obviously I can’t match the perfection, lol. Obviously it’s not one hundred percent accurate as I’m not a professional but it’s the best that I could do.
To create this look I simply took the top section of my hair, backcombed it, not too much, and then took a hair band, tied in it and then pulled it down to give it more volume. Usually if I wasn’t copying Sharon’s hair I’d add a bow or a flower, to give it that 1950s vibe.
As for makeup, I didn’t change much, I used MAC Hover Lip Pencilas a base and then MAC Velvet Teddy, nudes, peaches and browns were very popular in the 1960s, compared to reds in the 1950s. I elongated the flicks for my winged eyeliner and chose a slightly darker eye shadow but kept most of my makeup the same.
Sharon was amazing at doing her eye makeup, she would often use a dark pencil to line her eye lid, I tried this and failed miserably so I couldn’t copy that trick, lol.
The book I am holding is the amazing, Sharon Tate: Recollection by Debra Tate (Sharon’s sister) it is a photographic tribute to her life and a must have for any fans. It has many quotes by her famous friends, a Foreword written by her husband Roman Polanski and so many lovely anecdotes.
I hope you enjoyed my latest post, maybe you could also try to copy this style? Are there any other stars hairstyles/makeup you’d like me to try? Let me know!