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March 9, 2023

Behind the Scenes Photos of Wardrobe Tests From ‘Valley of the Dolls’ (1967)

Judy Garland’s involvement in Valley of the Dolls was comparatively brief, but has grown into a huge legend over the years. There have been many stories and theories as to why Judy either quit the production, some of them generated by the press and some of them generated by Judy herself. In the end, everyone involved in the production remembers the events differently but all have given testimony to Judy’s talent and the fact that most felt she was treated horribly by the production.

The actress was infamously cast and then fired from the 1967 production, but not before she had a chance to try on all of the gorgeous ’60s-era costumes for a wardrobe test. That Garland’s casting was hardly a coincidence wasn’t lost on most people, particularly Patty Duke, who played the talented yet drug-addled Neely O’Hara, a character supposedly based on Garland. “But nobody was allowed to say that,” Duke recalled in 2009. “I wasn’t allowed to say I was playing Judy.”

Neely O’Hara – the ingenue. Another of the thousands of hopefuls who dream of stardom. She’s a working showgirl, perfectly natural, full of zip, clawing her way to the top. Couldn’t care less what she’s wearing. It’s a different story once she’s made the grade, and then it is that she’s high fashion.

Played by actress Patty Duke, most well known for her roles as Gidget and twins Patty and Cathy Lane on The Patty Duke Show. Duke told one reporter, “When I stared this picture and knew Travilla was designing a wardrobe just for me, I got ambitious and reduced to eighty pounds.” And Travilla didn’t disappoint, Patty, dressing her in a $6000 coat worn in New England snow scenes, and the lattice-work fabric for her Grammy award scene costume costing $150 a yard (in 1967 dollars!) The actual dress is at the Hollywood History Museum in the old Max Factor Building in Hollywood California. It may or may not be on display.

Duke also described the events leading up to Garland’s unceremonious dismissal from the film: “She was charming and funny, oh, very funny, but she was having a problem with alcohol and I don't know about other things. So the director, who was the meanest son of a bitch I ever met in my life... he kept [Judy] waiting and waiting. She had to come in at 6:30 in the morning and he wouldn’t even plan to get to her until four in the afternoon. She was very down to earth, so she didn’t mind waiting. What I minded was that there were gentlemen around her who supplied her with wine and other things, so when she finally did get called to the set, she couldn’t function very well... and she crumbled.”


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