Bob Mackie

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Bob Mackie
Mackie in 1975
Robert Gordon Mackie

(1939-03-24) March 24, 1939 (age 84)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Fashion designer, costumier
Lulu Porter
(m. 1960; div. 1963)
PartnerRay Aghayan (since 1963; died 2011)

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 Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Diahann Carroll, Carol Channing, Cher, Bette Midler, Doris Day, Marlene Dietrich, Barbara Eden, Lola Falana, Farrah Fawcett, Judy Garland, Mitzi Gaynor, Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Monroe, Marie Osmond, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Barbra Streisand, among others. He was the costume designer for all the performers on The Carol Burnett Show during its entire eleven-year run. For his work, Mackie has received nine Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony Award, and three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. In April 2023, Mackie was awarded with the inaugural Giving Us Life-time Achievement Award by RuPaul at the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 finale.[3]

Early life[edit]

Mackie was born March 24, 1939, in Monterey Park, California, to Charles Robert Mackie and Mildred Agnes (née Smith) Mackie.[4][5] His father worked at Bank of America.[6] He has an older sister.[7][8]

He was raised in early childhood by his maternal grandparents in Alhambra, California because his parents divorced. By high school he moved to Rosemead, California and lived with his father.[4] He attended Rosemead High School.

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.[4][9] At Chouinard, Mackie studied under Eva Roberts, the head of the fashion design department.[10] He left Chouinard early because he got his first job sketching for Frank Thompson at Paramount Studios.[4] Between 1960 until 1963, Mackie worked as a novice designer and assistant under designer Ray Aghayan at Paramount Studios.[11]

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.[12]

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 actress Marlene Dietrich during her career as a cabaret singer. As one of his first assignments, he drew the original sketch of Marilyn Monroe’s dress worn in 1962 at President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in New York.[13]

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 whom 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.[11] 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.[14][15] 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.[16]

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".[17] "As you can see," said Cher, "I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress."[18]

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.[19] Mackie has said, "A woman who wears my clothes is not afraid to be noticed."[20][21]

In 1981, Mackie guest starred as himself on two episodes of the television series The Love Boat.[22] In 2002, Mackie was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[23] 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.

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.[24]

Personal life[edit]

On March 14, 1960, Mackie married LuLu Porter (née Marianne Wolford), a singer, actress, and later an acting teacher.[25][26] The couple had had a son, Robert Gordon Mackie Jr. (known as "Robin"),[12] the previous year. The couple divorced in 1963. Robin, a makeup artist, died in 1993 at the age of 33 of an AIDS-related illness, predeceasing his parents.[26][27][28][6][29]

Beginning in 1963, Mackie's significant other was costume designer Ray Aghayan, whom Mackie worked 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.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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.[30]
  • 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.[31]
  • Mackie is a character in the jukebox musical The Cher Show.
  • Referenced in Netflix's GLOW.[32]
  • Referenced in episode 20 of season 10 of Modern Family ("Can’t Elope")
  • Referenced in Netflix's AJ and the Queen.
  • In Christopher Guest's Best in Show, upon seeing what his rival is wearing, Michael McKean's character exclaims, "Bob Mackie, where are you when we need you?"[33]
  • In "Ode to Barbra Joan," Episode 20 of Season 1 of The Nanny, C.C. Babcock's father Stuart spoils main character Fran Fine by taking her shopping for designer outfits. Fran comments "All I said was that I was in the mood for a Big Mac, and you got me a Bob Mackie!"[34]
  • In HBO's Girls Season 5 Episode 6 "The Panic in Central Park", the character Marnie Michaels tries on a slinky glittery red sleeveless gown and refers to herself as a "Bob Mackie Barbie doll".[35]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards[edit]

The Academy Awards are awarded annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mackie has received 3 nominations.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1973 Lady Sings the Blues Best Costume Design Nominated
1976 Funny Lady Nominated
1982 Pennies from Heaven Nominated

American Choreography Awards[edit]

The American Choreography Awards honored outstanding choreographers in the fields of feature film, television, music videos, and commercials. Mackie has received 1 honorary award.

Year Nominated work Award Result
2001 Himself Governor's Award Honored

Costume Designers Guild Awards[edit]

The Costume Designers Guild Awards are awarded annually by the Costume Designers Guild for costume designers in motion pictures, television, and commercials. Mackie has received 1 honorary award.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1999 Himself Disaronno Career Achievement in Television Award Honored

Emmy Awards[edit]

The Emmy Awards are presented at one of the numerous annual American events or competitions that each recognize achievements in a particular sector of the television industry. Mackie has received 1 honorary award and 9 competitive awards from 32 nominations.[36]

Year Nominated work Award Result
1966 Wonderful World of Burlesque II Individual Achievements in Art Direction and Allied Crafts - Costume Design Nominated
1967 Alice Through The Looking Glass Won
1969 The Carol Burnett Show Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Visual Arts Nominated
1970 Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Temptations Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design Won
1972 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Nominated
1974 Nominated
1975 Cher Nominated
1976 Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for Music - Variety Nominated
Mitzi...Roarin' in the 20's Won
1977 An Evening with Diana Ross The Big Event Nominated
The Sonny & Cher Show Nominated
1978 Mitzi...Zings Into Spring Won
1979 Cher...And Other Fantasies Outstanding Costume Design for a Limited Series or Special Nominated
1980 Ann-Margret - Hollywood Movie Girls Nominated
1983 Mama's Family Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Nominated
1984 Won
1986 Neil Diamond...Hello Again Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program Nominated
1987 Mama's Family Outstanding Achievement for Costuming in a Series Nominated
Fresno Outstanding Achievement for Costuming in a Miniseries Nominated
1988 The 60th Annual Academy Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement - Special Events Nominated
1990 Julie and Carol: Together Again Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program Nominated
1991 Cher At The Mirage Nominated
Carol & Company Won
1992 The Carol Burnett Show Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program Nominated
1993 The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion Nominated
1994 Gypsy Nominated
1995 Men, Movies And Carol Won
1997 Mrs. Santa Claus Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or Special Nominated
1998 Blue Suede Shoes - Ballet Rocks! Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program Nominated
2000 Cher: Live In Concert - From The MGM Grand In Las Outstanding Costumes for a Variety or Music Program Won
2002 Himself Television Hall of Fame Honored
2003 Cher - The Farewell Tour Outstanding Costumes for a Variety or Music Program Won
2006 Once Upon A Mattress Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Nominated

RuPaul's Drag Race Awards[edit]

RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality competition program hosted by American drag queen RuPaul. The show periodically highlights and celebrates pop culture icons that have influenced LGBTQIA+ culture over the years with their "Giving Us Life-time Achievement Award". Mackie has received one honorary award.[3]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2023 Himself Giving Us Life-time Achievement Award Honored

Tony Awards[edit]

The Tony Awards are presented annually by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League. Mackie has received 1 award from 1 nomination.[37]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2019 The Cher Show Best Costume Design in a Musical Won

TV Land Awards[edit]

The TV Land Award generally commemorates shows now off the air, rather than in current production. Mackie has received 1 honorary award.

Year Nominated work Award Result
2005 The Carol Burnett Show Legend Award Honored


  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 Joey Nolfi (April 14, 2023). "RuPaul presents Bob Mackie with first-ever Giving Us Life-time Achievement Award on Drag Race finale". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Jorgensen, Jay (2015). Creating the Illusion (Turner Classic Movies): A Fashionable History of Hollywood Costume Designers. Running Press. p. 330. ISBN 978-0762458073.
  5. ^ "Bob Mackie". Britannica Kids. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ ""He's a Genius, That's All"—An Oral History of Bob Mackie". Vogue. May 29, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  8. ^ Horyn, Cathy (February 19, 1991). "BOB MACKIE AND THE AESTHETIC OF THE FABULOUS". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ Perine, Robert (1985). Chouinard, an Art Vision Betrayed: The Story of the Chouinard Art Institute, 1921-1972. Artra Publisher. p. 173. ISBN 0936725001.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b "Bob Mackie". TV Guide. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  13. ^ Steinberg, Brooke. "The secrets of Marilyn Monroe's dress that Kim Kardashian wore to Met Gala 2022". New York Post. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. "Jubilee!". Showgirls. University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 168. ISBN 978-1408820605.
  18. ^ Cosgrave, Bronwyn (2008). Made for each other fashion and the Academy Awards. London: Bloomsbury. p. 169. ISBN 978-1408820605.
  19. ^ "Awards and Nominations". Bob Mackie.
  20. ^ "Bob Mackie: Man of Design". Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  21. ^ "Bob Mackie Interview: Brazilian Banana Bonanza™ Barbie® Doll and More!". Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  22. ^ ""The Love Boat" A Model Marriage/This Year's Model/Original Sin/Vogue Rogue/Too Clothes for Comfort: Part 1 (TV Episode 1981)". IMDb. May 2, 1981. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  23. ^ "Honorees". Television Academy.
  24. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' celebrates San Francisco Bay Area all week". April 27, 2020.
  25. ^ "People: Aug. 16, 1963". Time. August 16, 1963. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
  26. ^ a b Moritz, Charles (1989). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. OCLC 658232093.
  27. ^ 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."
  28. ^ Riggs, Thomas (2003). Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Gale Research Company. ISBN 978-0787663629.
  29. ^ "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.
  30. ^ "The Looney Tunes Show s02e09 Episode Script". Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  31. ^ "The Simpsons s05e18 Episode Script". Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  32. ^ "- Is that a Bob Mackie gown? - [Bash] Uh, yeah" – via
  33. ^ "Best in Show Script". Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "Ode to Barbra Joan," The Nanny Script. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  35. ^ "Taking Cues from Marnie's No-Makeup Makeup on Girls Last Night". Vogue. March 28, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  36. ^ "Emmy Awards, Nominations, and Wins: Bob Mackie". Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  37. ^ "Bob Mackie Talks His Tony". June 10, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2021.

External links[edit]