Oral Histories

Interview of Dodie Shepard

Costumer and costume designer who worked on films such as My Fair Lady and To Kill a Mockingbird and on TV shows such as Mannix and Mission Impossible.
Series:
The Crafts in Hollywood: Costuming
Topic:
Film and Television
Interviewer:
Collings, Jane
Interviewee:
Shepard, Dodie
Persons Present:
Shepard and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Shepard's home in Burbank, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Shepard was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the contents. Shepard made minor changes, which were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
Length:
5.5 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
This series of interviews documents the work of costumers in the film and television industries in Los Angeles. The interviews preserve a dimension of Hollywood history and Los Angeles history that has been under-documented to date.
Early life in San Diego and Los Angeles during the Depression—Attends Powers Professional School and gets a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios contract at age eleven, beginning a career in show business—Mother’s employment during World War II—The advent of color TV—Begins work in early TV—Gets work as a dancer on TV revue shows—Does stunt work—Goes to work at Western Costume Company—Gender lines at Western Costume—Begins work at Allied Artists in the costume department—Union classifications for costumers—Progression of career—Sourcing materials for costuming.
Joins Local 705—Difficulties people face in joining the union today—Works on some non-union shows— Union strike actions on a non-union show—Accrues enough union hours to be a union 705 Class 3—The separation of work for male and female costumers—Importance of good relations with crew—TV shows worked on—The process of getting hired for a show—Discrimination against women in costuming at the time--Begins supervising both male and female costumes—Gender issues as they pertain to hiring crew—Relationships male stars would have with their costumer, as opposed to female stars--Training people for Local 705 covered work—Assembly Bill 1839 to curb runaway production—The union faces the challenge of dealing with large numbers of people working non-union at the present time—The difference between designing and costuming work—the Costume Designer’s Guild, Local 892.
Changing gender dynamics on the set—Begins to “gaff” own shows—Designing work—Works on Star Trek V and VI--Workarounds for budget challenges—Enjoys working in period and fantasy genres—The wide range of personalities encountered in the business—Works on North and South II--Collaborative working relationships with crew.
The work of the designer as compared to that of the costumer--The new technologies and materials that are available to designers and costumers today—Ways that costumers and designers can work together—The demise costume departments' structure at studios changes the way work is done—Pressure on costumers to do product placement--Agent, Jerry Smith--Begins to think about retiring from the business--Enjoys working with Mel Brooks.