Yes, she was a babe as audiences discovered when they first saw the screen newcomer in the 1950s. Audiences fell in love with the kooky new personality sparkling in Artists and Models, the 1955 Paramount comedy starring Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin.
Shirley got Jerry. Dorothy Malone got Dean.
At home, the married guy and his wife had rented a DVD of MacLaine as the popular French hooker who falls in love with a totally honest new cop on her beat. She was Irma La Douce. The Billy Wilder comedy re-teamed her with Jack Lemmon.
I made him promise to rent the first film the actors did together -- Billy Wilder's The Apartment. You, too, should rent this Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1960.
I'm being a total film geek here: One of my favorite guilty pleasure movie rentals is a 1964 Shirley MacLaine satirical comedy. The movie opens with a wealthy widow, still in a state of grief, on her way to donate millions of dollars -- to the IRS. This could only be a comedy. She's frustrated trying to make the donation because it's April the 1st. The IRS clerk assumes she's part of an April Fools' Day office prank. In What A Way To Go!, we see how a girl who only wanted a simple life kept marrying men who died in some wacky manner and made her rich, rich, rich. She'd prefer country hills to Beverly Hills.
We go back to Louisa's humble beginnings and then meet the men who just couldn't keep her out of the poorhouse. Her co-stars included a flirty and funny Dean Martin...
For all the big name male star power helping her get laughs in this comedy, Shirley MacLaine's biggest co-star wasn't even seen onscreen. This movie is one fabulous fashion show. Those kids on Project Runway need to study What A Way To Go!
MacLaine was practically a Project Runway season unto herself here thanks to the many original costumes from Hollywood's superstar designer highlighted in the opening credits:
You could not write about top Hollywood costume designers and exclude Edith Head. She truly was an icon in that field. She won 8 Academy Awards and got 35 Oscars nominations in her long and illustrious Hollywood career.
Edith designed the comic book-inspired costumes for Shirley in Artists and Models.
The celebrated designer outdid herself creating festive wear for Shirley in What A Way To Go! You can see what I mean because this comedy finally made it to DVD a couple of years ago. It's not a really classic film like The Apartment and Terms of Endearment but I really dig this comedy/fashion show. I miss this movie era. Head was great in Hollywood.