Susan Claassen, who stars as legendary Hollywood designer Edith Head in “A Conversation With Edith Head” will be appearing in California in June. Following her engagement in London last summer, Ms. Claassen began her US tour by opening the 16th season at Houston’s Theater LaB with a sold out 5-performance engagement. Her US tour also included appearances in Tucson at the Invisible Theatre, at Arizona’s Tubac Center of the Arts, and, most recently, at the 35th Annual Symposium of the Costume Society of America in Tempe and Phoenix, AZ where she, once again, received rave review's. Symposium attendee Nena Ivon, Manager, Special Events, Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago, said: “A Conversation With Edith Head was outstanding and a fitting finale to the symposium”.
Ms. Claassen will appear at the Coronado Public Library on June 19th (7:00 pm) and 20th (3:00 pm) and at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach on June 23rd and 24th (7:30 pm).
“A Conversation With Edith Head”, based on Edith Head's Hollywood by Edith Head & Paddy Calistro, is a feast of delicious behind-the-scenes stories about Hollywood’s greatest stars that provide an intimate portrait of Hollywood’s legendary costume designer. In her six decades of costume design, Edith Head worked on over eleven hundred films; dressed the greatest stars of Hollywood; received 35 Academy Award® nominations, and won an unprecedented eight Oscars®.
Edith Head spent 44 years at Paramount Studios, where she worked with the most famous actors of the time, from Mae West and Clara Bow to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. When Paramount failed to renew her contract in 1967, Alfred Hitchcock stepped in and Ms. Head was invited to join Universal Studios. Her eight Academy Awards® celebrated her artistry in “The Heiress” (her first Oscar®), “Samson & Delilah”, “All About Eve”, “A Place in the Sun”, “Roman Holiday”, “Sabrina”, “The Facts of Life” and “The Sting”. Edith Head died in October 1981, still under contract to Universal Studios, having just completed the Steve Martin film, “Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid”.
Susan Claassen was inspired to write and star in “A Conversation With Edith Head” while watching a TV biography of Ms. Head. Susan Claassen said: “Not only do I bear a striking resemblance to Edith, but we share the same love for clothes and fashion. Edith survived the boy’s club of Hollywood to enjoy a 60-year career, during which she worked on 1,131 films, earned 35 Oscar nominations and won eight. She stitched Dorothy Lamour into her sarong; put Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in kilts in “The Road to Bali”; created Bette Davis’ glamorous Margo Channing; made teenage girls swoon over ElizaBeth Taylor’s white ballgown in “A Place in the Sun”; dressed Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious”, Grace Kelly in “To Catch A Thief”, Kim Novak in “Vertigo”, Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard” and Sean Connery in “The Man Who Would Be King”. She knew whose hips needed clever disguising and made sure those legendary stars always looked perfect. Our show gives the inside scoop on Edith and the Golden Age of Hollywood.”
“A Conversation With Edith Head” premiered at The Invisible Theatre in Tucson, Arizona in January, 2002 and was subsequently presented in Chicago; Key West, FLA; at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, MD; Hartford; San Francisco; Nantucket, and Scottsdale, as well as in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia and a ‘sold out’ engagement at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
As an actress, some of Susan’s most memorable roles have been Bella in “Lost in Yonkers”; Alice B. Toklas in “Gertrude Stein and Company”; Hannah in “Crossing Delancey”; Shirley in “Shirley Valentine” and Trudy in “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe”. She has been a consultant and director for The Waterfront Playhouse and The Red Barn Theatre in Key West, Florida, and directed Steve Ross in “I Won't Dance” at New York’s Rainbow and Stars Cabaret and St. Paul's Ordway Theatre. As Managing Artistic Director of The Invisible Theatre in Tucson, Arizona, Susan has produced more than 335 productions and directed more than 50. She is featured in the book How to Be a Working Actor by Mari Henry & Lynne Rogers.
Much of the dialogue in “A Conversation With Edith Head” comes directly from the famed designer. When she was asked to write the authorized posthumous autobiography, Edith Head's Hollywood, Paddy Calistro acquired more than 13 hours of recollections recorded by Edith Head – including her own snippy “Edithisms” as Ms. Head referred to her own sayings, such as: "I hate modesty, don't you?" and "Good clothes are not a matter of good luck." The show also features insights from Hollywood insiders who knew Ms. Head best: costume designer Bob Mackie, who once worked as Ms. Head's sketch artist; her dear friend Edie Wasserman, wife of the late Universal Studio head Lew Wasserman, and Art Linkletter, award-winning host of TV’s “House Party”, who brought Edith Head into the homes of America. Young fans of Pixar’s “The Incredibles” will recognized the superhero outfitter Edna Mode as an affectionate tribute to the legendary Hollywood costume designer.
Co-author Paddy Calistro is one of the leading authorities on the life and work of Edith Head and is the co-author of Edith Head's posthumous autobiography, Edith Head's Hollywood. She was selected as Ms. Head’s official biographer based on her experience as a fashion journalist. A former fashion and beauty writer for the Los Angeles Times, Paddy wrote the weekly “Looks” column in the LA Times Magazine for four years. She was the West Coast reporter for Allure and has written for Glamour, Mademoiselle, House Beautiful, Elle, Four Seasons Magazine, Fitness and Los Angeles Magazine. The 25th anniversary edition of Edith Head's Hollywood has recently been reissued and will be available for purchase at all performances of “A Conversation With Edith Head”.