*** boys clothing: depictions in theatrical productions

Boys Clothing in Theatrical Productions

Magnificent Ambersons
Figure 1.--Turn of the century kilts and Fauntleroy suits were worn by the spoiled rich kid in the "Manificent Ambersons", one of Orson Well's greatest films. Georgie, the spoiled main character, wears long ringlet curls first appears in a Fauntleroy suit and then is seen here in a kilt outfit. Some of the child actors involved are relatively unknown performers.

Some interesting images of period clothing for boys are available in movies, plays, and television shows. Producers vary greatly in the accuracy with which fashions are portrayed, some, however, take great pains for accuracy and detail. Some of the child actors have been known to object to some of the styles they had to wear. The boy playing Harlan in Life with Father apparently was most displeased with ther kilts he had to wear, especially because of none of his brothers had to wear them. Both the productions and the children involved as actors in the productions offer valuable information pn children's fashions.

Media Forms

Theatrical productions are as old as recorded history and surely must infact predate it. Modern drama dates from the 16th century, but there were dramatic productions throughout the middle ages. The revival of drama in the Werst was influenced by the discoveries of classical drama. Some very useful information is available from the various media. Of course information on the 19th century is only available from plays. The theatrical forms available to the public changed dramatically in the 20th cerntury. At about the turn of the century large numbers of films began to appear. Radio appeared in the 1920s, but costuming was apparent only if discribed in the dialog. Still radio should not be ignored. Today of course television is a dominant media format. Curiously unlike movies, television often does not cross national borders. Television began to emerge in the 1950s. Some movies are set with real contemporary settings. Often films are set in historical periods and thus the costunibg must be assessed for historical accuracy.


Theatrical costumes are not the most historically accurate sources of information, but that does not mean that the material collected in this section of HBC should be discarded. A great deal of useful information can be gleaned from theatrical sources. Stage plays go back to cladsical times. And these plays provide important insights into these historical periods. This includes insights ingto how children were regarded and treated. Costume information becomes important primarily in the 19th century when we begin to get photigraphic portraits of the children involved in the theater, at first mostly boys. And finally i the 20th centiry we get movies and television. Here the fact that filns and television are set in contemporary periods means that much useful costumed information is available, including information from a variety of countries. Using costumes in historical dramnas is more questiinable, but evalkuating historical depictions is a useful exercise. In addition, reviewing why historical costumes are not accurately depicted also offers insights.

Song of the South
Figure 2.--Clothes worn in the era after the Civil War are shown in the Disney production "Song of the South". The boy didn't care much for his lace collar. Some of the children involved in movies, like Bobby Driscol, became child stars.

Child Actors

Information about child actors also provides a great deal of fashion information. Both clothes these children wore for daily life as well as the costumes they wore in their films and shows provide much valuable information. These children often dressed very fashionably so information about them provides insights into contemprary fashions and conventions. The costumes they wore in films also provides useful information--although it must be treated more cautiously. HBC is preparing an alphabetical listing of child actors in movies, plays, and television. Some of the children, of course, became famous. Other children are virtually unknown. We have created separate pages on some of the most important child stars.


HBC is constantly evolving. Concerning theatricals we first began working with movies beause there is such a walth of imagery avilable, but gradually realised there ere other firrms of theatricals, such a plays (drama) and radio, and television, as well as opera and ballet. It then dawned on us that there is a long, varied history of theatricals. The longest is theatrical plays that date back to the ancient world, especilly Greece. Amd children especially boys were involved. And then we realised that there were all hinds of street theatricls during the middle ages such as the balladeer. We suspect thaht this was also the case in the ancint world. Italian commedia dell'arte was a more organized form of these these performances and an earlh modern form of professional theater (16th century). Much of it was conducted in the street. It has come down to pur modern age as Punch and Judy shows. Commedia dell'arte and Punch and Judy Shows are important because until the 20th century with modern medi (movies, radio, and televidion), children did mot attend theatrical performamnces. These formats were ones that children could enjoy. We have not yet created many country theatrical pages to include all these different formats, although we have given a great deal of attention to movies. We have many country movie pages. There are also pages on the other theatrical formats. We are now beginning to pull all of this tgether and create theatrical pages. This is a project we hope to work on as HBC expands. Currently the only country theatrical pages we have are Argentina, Italy, and the United States.


There are a wide range of sources on media as it is asubject of great interest to many, Most of the interest is centered on movies and television. Less infornmation is available on stage plays and radio. There are many published works. There are also wonderful internet sources. The media in particular has attracted the interest of web masters around the world. Thus a great deal of information can be obtained through intenet searches. HBC invites readers to prepare reviews on favotite movies and television programs. Valuable source material cam be obtained from some of the internet sites.


HBC readers often ask what they can contribute once they have provided information about their own personal experiences. We are very interested in adding more biographies to our site. Another possibility is preparing a review on a TV-seies or movie. These do not have to be exhaustive reviews. Short basic reviews are welcome. Often HBC readers comment on new reviews which will help fill in the blanks. HBC already has quite a number of these reviews, bit there are many that we do not yet have that would be helpful additions. TV reviews that are needed include, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "My Three Sons", and "The Brady Bunch". A movie review that is needed is "To Kill a Mockingbird". Of course these are only suggestions. We welcome reviews on what ever programs or movies that readers may have enjoyed.

Reader Comments

Readers involved in theatricals have commentd on the value of the HBC theatrical section. "Thank you for this site, I am researching for a film and this was a perfect source for films I can watch to get the boys' clothing correct. Good work and much needed!" -- Jen Mcguire.


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Created: April 14, 1998
Last updated: 3:42 PM 2/23/2007