POST 4: Dorothy Jeakins

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Dorothy Jeakins built an impressive list of credits in theater, film, and television and came to be respected as one of the best costume designers in the entertainment industry.
Jeakins submitted original drawings to a competition and won a three-year fine arts scholarship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where she studied drawing and painting. Jeakins graduated from Otis in 1934 and joined the Works Progress Administration, Southern California Art Project as its youngest woman artist. In 1936 she accepted a position painting animated cells in the color department at the Walt Disney Studio , then in the late 1930s, she joined the Los Angeles department store I. Magnin, drawing fashion layouts in the advertising department. Her work caught the attention of a Twentieth Century Fox art director, who hired her as an assistant to illustrate costumes for the studio; she was eventually assigned as an assistant to costume designer Ernst Dryden.

For ten years beginning in 1953, she served as designer for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company, and was curator of that city’s 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.”


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