Robert Gordon Mackie
March 24, 1939
|Education||Rosemead High School|
|Alma mater||Pasadena City College|
Chouinard Art Institute
|Occupation||Fashion designer, costumer|
(m. 1960; div. 1963)
(1963–2011; his death)
Robert Gordon Mackie (born March 24, 1939), is an American fashion designer and costumer, best known for his dressing of entertainment icons such as Joan Rivers, Cher, RuPaul, Barbara Eden, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Tina Turner, Carol Burnett, and Mitzi Gaynor. He was the costume designer for Carol Burnett on The Carol Burnett Show during its entire 11-year run and designed the costumes for its spinoff, Mama's Family, and for the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy.
Early life and education
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Mackie was born in Monterey Park, California, to Charles Robert Smith and Mildred Agnes Smith. He attended Rosemead High School class of 1957, Pasadena City College and Chouinard Art Institute but left without earning a degree from either school.
Mackie began his career as a sketch artist for legendary French haute couturier Jean Louis, who is perhaps best known for crafting stage gowns worn by screen legend Marlene Dietrich during her career as a cabaret singer. Mackie and future life partner Ray Aghayan worked with legendary costumer Edith Head in 1961 while working as a novice designer at Paramount Studios. In 1969, Mackie was hired to design costumes for Diana Ross, The Supremes, and The Temptations in the television special GIT: On Broadway.
In 1972, he and Aghayan were nominated for Best Costume Design for Lady Sings The Blues, starring Diana Ross. Mackie and Diana Ross continued their collaborative efforts well into the 21st century, with Mackie designing stage costumes for Ross' 2010 More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour.
Mackie designed costumes for the Las Vegas Strip-based burlesque shows, Hallelujah Hollywood, which was inspired by the Ziegfeld Follies and ran at the MGM Grand (now Bally's Las Vegas) from 1974 to 1980, and Jubilee!, which ran from 1981 to 2016. Both productions involve intricate, elaborate costumes and grandiose sets.
Images of many of Mackie's design drawings for these productions are available in the "Showgirls" collection from UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. He created the costumes for Cher’s 2008–11 Las Vegas Cher at the Colosseum residency at Caesars Palace, as well as for her 2017 “Classic Cher” shows in Las Vegas and Washington D.C.
Two of Mackie's best-remembered creations had a humorous aspect. While working on The Carol Burnett Show, he designed a "curtain dress" (complete with a curtain rod across the shoulders) that Carol Burnett wore in Went with the Wind!, a parody of Gone with the Wind. He designed the exotic ensemble worn by Cher at the March 1986 Academy Awards: black stretch pants, a bejeweled loincloth, knee-high boots, a black chainlink top, and a huge feathered Mohawk headdress that was one and a half times taller than her head. Introduced by Jane Fonda with the words, "Wait'll you see what's gonna come out here". "As you can see," said Cher, "I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress."
Mackie designed costumes for Whitney Houston, especially splashy evening gowns which she wore for many years during concert tours and award shows. He was often referred to as "the sultan of sequins" or "the rajah of rhinestones", known for his sparkling and imaginative costume designs. He has won nine Emmy Awards for his designs, and has been nominated three times for an Academy Award.
On March 14, 1960, Mackie married LuLu Porter (née Marianne Wolford), a singer, actress, and later an acting teacher. The couple had a son, Robert Gordon Mackie Jr. (known as "Robin"), the previous year. The couple divorced in 1963. Robin Mackie, a makeup artist, died in 1994 of an AIDS-related illness, predeceasing his parents.
Mackie's life partner was costume designer Ray Aghayan, whom Mackie had started working with as an assistant. The two worked together through the 1970s, as well as having separate clients. They remained together until Aghayan's death in 2011.
- Daffy Duck in episode 9 of season 2 of The Looney Tunes Show explains that he's wearing a Bob Mackie jumpsuit in a photo of himself.
- Bart Simpson in episode 18 of season 5 of The Simpsons ("Burns' Heir") offers Milhouse Van Houten the blazer he is wearing, stating it is a "Bob Mackie original". Milhouse responds "Wow! A Bob Mackie!" before declining the offer.
- White, Jackie (October 30, 1999). "Bob Mackie May Be Stars' Best Friend". Chicago Tribune.
- Wilson, Eric (November 17, 2005). "Bob Mackie Is Selling a Share of His Excess". The New York Times.
- UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. "The Modern Ziegfeld: Hallelujah Hollywood!". Showgirls. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. "Jubilee!". Showgirls. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- Johns, Nikara (February 27, 2017). "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Fashion From Cher & Elton John's Las Vegas Concerts". Retrieved 26 November 2017.
- Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 168. ISBN 978-1408820605.
- Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 169. ISBN 978-1408820605.
- "Bob Mackie: Man of Design". thesocietydiplomat.com. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- "Bob Mackie Interview: Brazilian Banana Bonanza™ Barbie® Doll and More!". barbiecollector.com. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- ""The Love Boat" A Model Marriage/This Year's Model/Original Sin/Vogue Rogue/Too Clothes for Comfort: Part 1 (TV Episode 1981)". IMDb. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
- "People: Aug. 16, 1963". Time. August 16, 1963.
- Moritz, Charles (1989). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. OCLC 658232093.
- Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 413. ISBN 978-1412053358.[self-published source]
- Min, Janice (January 24, 1994). "Putting on the Glitz – Again". People.
- Riggs, Thomas (2003). Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Gale Research Company. ISBN 978-0787663629.
- Witchel, Alex (May 8, 1994). "THEATER; Beads. Feathers. Sequins. Lace. Fantasy. Flash". The New York Times.
- Vitello, Paul (October 15, 2011). "Ray Aghayan, Costume Designer, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
- "The Looney Tunes Show s02e09 Episode Script". Retrieved 6 August 2015.
- "The Simpsons s05e18 Episode Script". Retrieved September 30, 2015.