Bob Mackie

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Bob Mackie
Robert Gordon Mackie

(1939-03-24) March 24, 1939 (age 81)
Alma materRosemead High School,
Pasadena City College
Chouinard Art Institute
OccupationFashion designer, costumier
Lulu Porter
(m. 1960; div. 1963)
Partner(s)Ray Aghayan
(1963–2011; his death)

Robert Gordon Mackie (born March 24, 1939)[1][2] is an American fashion designer and costumier, best known for his dressing of entertainment icons such as Ann-Margret, Carol Burnett, Diahann Carroll, Carol Channing, Cher, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Eden, Lola Falana, Judy Garland, Mitzi Gaynor, Elton John, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Marie Osmond, Joan Rivers, Diana Ross, RuPaul, Tina Turner, Sylvie Vartan, Vanna White, and Alison Scoffins. He was the costume designer for all the performers on The Carol Burnett Show during its entire eleven-year run, and designed the costumes for its spinoff, Mama's Family, and for the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy.

Early life and education[edit]

Mackie was born March 24, 1939, in Monterey Park, California, to Charles Robert Mackie and Mildred Agnes Mackie (née Smith).[3] His father worked at Bank of America.[4] He was raised in early childhood by his maternal grandparents in Alhambra, California because his parents divorced.[3] By high school he moved to Rosemead, California and lived with his father.[3] He attended Rosemead High School, class of 1957.

Mackie continued his education at Pasadena City College and one year study at Chouinard Art Institute but left without earning a degree from either school.[3][5] At Chouinard, Mackie studied under Eva Roberts, the head of the fashion design department.[6] He left Chouinard early because he got his first job sketching for Frank Thompson at Paramount Studios.[3] Between 1960 until 1963, Mackie worked as a novice designer and assistant under designer Ray Aghayan at Paramount Studios.[7] Aghayan would later become Mackie's long term life partner.

Professional career[edit]

The curtain dress, worn by Carol Burnett in "Went with the Wind!" on The Carol Burnett Show, a parody of Gone With The Wind.

In 1961, while he was working at Paramount Studios, costumer Edith Head found Mackie.[8]

Bob Mackie designs for Cher and Farrah Fawcett on
The Sonny & Cher Show (1976)

In Mackie's early career he worked as a sketch artist for French haute couturier Jean Louis, who is noted for crafting stage gowns worn by screen Marlene Dietrich during her career as a cabaret singer.

In 1966, Mackie was hired by Mitzi Gaynor to design her new stage show at the Riviera in Las Vegas. Mitzi was the first star client for which Mackie designed an entire show. He would continue to design for Mitzi's television specials and live stage shows for the next 50 years. He won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for Music-Variety for Mitzi's TV specials "Mitzi...Roarin' in the Twenties" (1976) and "Mitzi...Zings Into Spring" (1977).

In 1969, Mackie was hired to design costumes for Diana Ross, The Supremes, and The Temptations in the television special GIT: On Broadway.[citation needed] In 1972, he and Aghayan were nominated for Best Costume Design for Lady Sings The Blues, starring Diana Ross.[7] 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.[citation needed]

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.[9][10] 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.[11]

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".[12] "As you can see," said Cher, "I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress."[13]

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.[citation needed] Mackie has said, "A woman who wears my clothes is not afraid to be noticed."[14][15]

In 1981, Mackie guest starred as himself on two episodes of the television series The Love Boat.[16] In 2002, Mackie was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[17] In more recent years, Mackie has been mainly known as the costume designer for Cher’s elaborate outfit during her latest tours, including her latest Here We Go Again Tour. In 2019, Mackie won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design in a Musical for his work on The Cher Show (musical).

More recently in 2020, Mackie's dresses were featured and worn by television hostess Vanna White over the week of April 27 in the long-running syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune as part of honoring the San Francisco Bay Area in the state of California.[18]

Personal life[edit]

On March 14, 1960, Mackie married LuLu Porter (née Marianne Wolford), a singer, actress, and later an acting teacher.[19][20] The couple had a son, Robert Gordon Mackie Jr. (known as "Robin"),[8] the previous year. The couple divorced in 1963. Robin Mackie, a makeup artist, died in 1993 at the age of 33 of an AIDS-related illness, predeceasing his parents.[20][21][22][4][23]

Mackie's life partner, however, would be 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.[7]

Cultural references[edit]


  1. ^ White, Jackie (October 30, 1999). "Bob Mackie May Be Stars' Best Friend". Chicago Tribune. Mackie, 59
  2. ^ Wilson, Eric (November 17, 2005). "Bob Mackie Is Selling a Share of His Excess". The New York Times. Mackie, 65
  3. ^ a b c d e Jorgensen, Jay (2015). Creating the Illusion (Turner Classic Movies): A Fashionable History of Hollywood Costume Designers. Running Press. p. 330. ISBN 978-0762458073.
  4. ^ a b Witchel, Alex (May 8, 1994). "THEATER; Beads. Feathers. Sequins. Lace. Fantasy. Flash". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2019. his 33-year-old son, Robin, died of AIDS
  5. ^ "In Praise of Alma Mater : Proud of their art school's legacy and impact, Chouinard alumni will celebrate the institution with reunion events". Los Angeles Times. April 30, 1993. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  6. ^ Perine, Robert (1985). Chouinard, an Art Vision Betrayed: The Story of the Chouinard Art Institute, 1921-1972. Artra Publisher. p. 173. ISBN 0936725001.
  7. ^ a b c Vitello, Paul (October 15, 2011). "Ray Aghayan, Costume Designer, Dies at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Bob Mackie". Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  9. ^ UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. "The Modern Ziegfeld: Hallelujah Hollywood!". Showgirls. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  10. ^ UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. "Jubilee!". Showgirls. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  11. ^ Johns, Nikara (February 27, 2017). "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Fashion From Cher & Elton John's Las Vegas Concerts". Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  12. ^ Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 168. ISBN 978-1408820605.
  13. ^ Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 169. ISBN 978-1408820605.
  14. ^ "Bob Mackie: Man of Design". Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  15. ^ "Bob Mackie Interview: Brazilian Banana Bonanza™ Barbie® Doll and More!". Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  16. ^ ""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.
  17. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
  18. ^ ‘Wheel of Fortune’ celebrates San Francisco Bay Area all week
  19. ^ "People: Aug. 16, 1963". Time. August 16, 1963.
  20. ^ a b Moritz, Charles (1989). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. OCLC 658232093.
  21. ^ Min, Janice (January 24, 1994). "Putting on the Glitz – Again". People. Retrieved March 21, 2019. Then in March, his 33-year-old son Robin died of AIDS after a long battle with drugs. “I wish everything that happened was a nightmare,” says Bob, “and I could open my eyes and wake up and have it be over.”
  22. ^ Riggs, Thomas (2003). Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Gale Research Company. ISBN 978-0787663629.
  23. ^ "Robin Mackie". Variety. March 17, 1993. Retrieved March 22, 2019. Artist Robin Mackie, son of designer Bob Mackie, died Monday in Los Angeles due to complications from AIDS.
  24. ^ "The Looney Tunes Show s02e09 Episode Script". Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  25. ^ "The Simpsons s05e18 Episode Script". Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  26. ^ "- Is that a Bob Mackie gown? - [Bash] Uh, yeah".
  27. ^ "Best in Show Script". Retrieved November 4, 2020.

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