An Evening of Wit, Wisdom and a Whisper of Gossip

Susan Claassen is remarkable as “Edith Head” in her one woman theatrical production “A Conversation with Edith Head” presented by Modernism Week, Palm Springs. The show was SOLD OUT and received a well deserved standing ovation.

Susan Claassen‘s uncanny resemblance to Edith Head, with friend Bob Mackie.

EDITH HEAD – Trailblazer

Edith Head was a legend.  Pardon the pun, but she was a Head of her time. One of the most prolific costume designers of the twentieth century, she received an unprecedented 35 Academy Award nominations and won a record-breaking eight Oscars at a time when the industry and world in general was dominated by men.  Her career spanned 58 years of movie making. She liked to call herself a “Magician.”  The word is suitable considering the magic she created with her design skills.  She raised rear ends, made waists look smaller, legs longer and hid imperfections like no other. 

There’s nothing like a row of Oscars for putting the fear of God into an actress who thinks she knows everything about dress designing.” – Edith Head

Edith Head became as famous as the stars she dressed.  With her signature glasses, straight bangs and tailored suits, her distinctive style made her a recognizable personality in her own right.

Looking exactly like Edith Head with trademark glasses and all, Susan Claassen brings us back to the time when Head dressed glamorous movie stars such as Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Lana Turner, Paul Newman, John Wayne, Bette Davis, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich and many more.  Some of the original costumes and photographs were on stage. However, preferring never to upstage whoever she was dressing, Head only liked to wear four colors herself: black, white, beige and brown.

Design for Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954).

With wit and intellect, Claassen relives and re tells stories when Head worked with actors like Mae West, Debbie Reynolds, Barbara Stanwyck and a young Elizabeth Taylor.  Not gonna lie; it was fun finding out who was naughty and who was nice! A few tidbits: Taylor was fascinated by a signature necklace worn by Head to the point where it was left for her in Head’s will.  Funnily enough there were no diamonds in the necklace but it was an eye-catching, original, vintage piece.  Head formed special relationships with the famous she dressed and recounted those stories.  For instance, when Grace Kelly became princess Grace and moved to Monaco, she would always visit Head when returning to Los Angeles.  Kelly always wore white gloves so on one visit Head made little white gloves for her young daughters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie.

In 1961 Edith Head hired Bob Mackie to be her sketch artist at Paramount Studios. Mackie would later become another famous designer (he designed all of the costumes for the Carole Burnett Show, all of Cher’s costumes and many more including sketching the famous sequined dress worn my Marilyn Monroe when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK).  As luck would have it, I met and spoke with him for several minutes before the show began.  He said that the actress (Susan Claassen) was a good friend of his and that he also knew Edith Head and that she helped start his career.  I had met him last year at the book store Just Fabulous when I bought his beautiful book “The Art of Bob Mackie” and told him how much I love the book and it brought back so many good memories.  Also, he looked just fabulous.

The real Edith Head with a young Bob Mackie. Photo: WWD

Edith Head died in 1981 of a progressive and rare blood disease, myeloid metaplasia, two weeks after completing work on her last film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” She left her estate to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and to other charitable organizations aiding Native American children and her beloved animals.  Her funeral was attended by hundreds, including not only Hollywood’s stars but also the backlot people.  A Paramount security guard dressed in a uniform designed by Edith Head mused, “I remember her real well.  At Christmas she took care of every one on the lot.  She was the greatest designer in the world.  Edith Head was quite a girl.”  And that she was.

Head’s no nonsense straightforward personality inspired the character of Edna Mode in The Incredibles.

Outside the Annenberg Theatre before the show with Bob Mackie.

Oscars Won:

The Heiress, 1949

Samson and Delilah, 1950

All About Eve, 1950

A Place in the Sun, 1951

Roman Holiday, 1953

Sabrina, 1954

The Facts of Life, 1960

The Sting, 1973

wearing the necklace Elizabeth Taylor loved.

The show must go on:

Booking Now Through 2025:

MODERNISM week has ended as of February 26th, but please join us next year for another unbelievable lineup of fabulous events.

Header Photo of set – d. king


The Mood: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Vancouver’s Shakespeare Festival “Bard on the Beach” is back with a 2022 lineup filled with laughter, suspense and excitement.

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Why do people refer to Shakespeare as “the Bard?”

Since the word “bard” means poet, we’re essentially calling Shakespeare “the Poet” when we refer to him as “the Bard.” Since centuries upon centuries of poetry enthusiasts concur that he’s one of the greatest poets that has ever lived, it’s only fitting we call him “the Poet.” Thank you Google.

Our Bard Village is where festival goers from home and around the world can enjoy world-class plays, special events from light opera and VSO evenings to wine tastings with food & fireworks. Something that was certainly missed over the past two years.  Luckily for me I can walk there in minutes.

I’m looking forward to attending the opening night of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 


Shakespeare’s comic masterpiece follows four young lovers and a troupe of stumbling actors through enchanted woods, on a journey of discovery to find out who they are, whom they love, and why it matters. Beginning in a world in disrepair, the story moves to the forest, where the natural and supernatural have merged and elves, goblins, and talking trees guide the way. It’s time again to enter a place of love, laughter and magic!

“I adore this play – it’s full of joy, magic and love. This is my tenth (Dream) production and I can’t wait to see it onstage again!” – Christopher Gaze, Bard Artistic Director

Directed by veteran Bard director and actor Scott Bellis (director – The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2017; Bottom – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2014). Onstage from June 8 – September 24.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Fireworks and Barbeque Night

Have you been?

Upcoming Plays:

Harlem Duet: This Governor-General’s Award-winning drama explores the complicated relationship of a Black couple in three key periods in the American Black experience: 1860, before the US Emancipation Proclamation; 1928, during New York’s Harlem Renaissance; and in post-civil rights 1997. Each setting reframes the story of the woman, her deep love for her partner, and her sacrifices – and resilience – in the face of his betrayal. With connections to OthelloHarlem Duet explores important contemporary questions about race, privilege and relationships.

Romeo + Juliet: Shakespeare spins a tragic and timeless story of two young people who fall deeply in love, in spite of a bitter feud that divides their families. Their passion – and Juliet’s courage – never fail to move and inspire us. And today more than ever, the play’s “two households alike in dignity” are a powerful reminder that with love, even the world’s greatest wounds can be healed. This production, in a classical setting, casts new light on Juliet’s experience.

Photos: taken from Bard website

For Tickets: