5 Facts about Orry-Kelly

I know many of you vintage lovers out there are well aware of who Orry-Kelly was, but while I've known the name for years, I can't say I knew anything about him until watching a recent documentary on Netflix. Entitled Women He Undressed, it explores the personal and professional life of the immensely talented Hollywood costumer. 

1. His first name, Orry, was the name of an ancient king of the Isle of Man, where Kelly's father was from.

It seems fitting - he was one of the kings of Hollywood.

It seems fitting - he was one of the kings of Hollywood.

2. He held the record for most Oscars won by an Australian until 2014, when Catherine Martin, another costume designer, surpassed him.

Martin is a frequent collaborator of Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge fame.

Martin is a frequent collaborator of Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge fame.

3. Kelly originally studied art, and his costume drawings are works of art in their own right.

A costume sketch for Natalie Wood in Gypsy. He was one of the first costume designers who included recognizable faces in the sketches of the actresses that he designed for, creating a sense of specificity to his designs. 

A costume sketch for Natalie Wood in Gypsy. He was one of the first costume designers who included recognizable faces in the sketches of the actresses that he designed for, creating a sense of specificity to his designs. 

4. Orry-Kelly and Archibald Leach (later to become Cary Grant) were roommates when Kelly first arrived in New York. Rumor suggests that the two romantically involved, although both men remained closed mouth about it their entire lives.

I want to be totally clear - I don't believe in outing people who wouldn't want to be outed, but you get the distinct feeling that Cary Grant regretted not being able to live the life that he wanted. His relationship with Randolph Scott wasn't much of a secret, but he was basically forced back into the closet by Hollywood execs. There was no "out and proud" culture, certainly not for big stars, until very, very recently.

I want to be totally clear - I don't believe in outing people who wouldn't want to be outed, but you get the distinct feeling that Cary Grant regretted not being able to live the life that he wanted. His relationship with Randolph Scott wasn't much of a secret, but he was basically forced back into the closet by Hollywood execs. There was no "out and proud" culture, certainly not for big stars, until very, very recently.

5. If you watched a Warner Brothers movie from the 1930s through the 1960s, Kelly probably did the costumes for it. 

Not totally sure who this is. I thought Bette Davis, but maybe Dolores del Rio in a blonde wig? Either way, this dress is killer.

Not totally sure who this is. I thought Bette Davis, but maybe Dolores del Rio in a blonde wig? Either way, this dress is killer.

Oh hey, it's Miss Gypsy herself! Kelly was nominated for an Oscar for this film.

Oh hey, it's Miss Gypsy herself! Kelly was nominated for an Oscar for this film.

Kelly won the Oscar for Some Like It Hot, not just for making Marilyn look good, but for doing the same for Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Kelly won the Oscar for Some Like It Hot, not just for making Marilyn look good, but for doing the same for Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

I highly recommend Women He Undressed, which is available to stream now on Netflix. It's a great look at the side of Hollywood that we don't often get to see.