October 3, 2009 – April 4, 2010

The Museum "Goes South" for the Winter with Special Gone with the Wind Costumes

The Magic of Hollywood: The Gene London Costume Collection has undergone changes with the December 15, 2009 roll-out of a dozen magnificent costumes from Gone with the Wind (1939 – now celebrating its 70th anniversary), arguably the most beloved and enduring film of all time. This special added feature includes some of Rhett and Scarlett’s most memorable outfits.

In 1989, the Ted Turner organization selected Gene London to recreate the costumes from Gone with the Wind for its Golden Anniversary celebration. All were inspired by the original designs of Walter Plunkett, who crafted the dresses for the iconic movie. Costumes from some of the most legendary moments in the film will be on view, including the famous barbeque dress, curtain dress, the white organza summer dress, and Ashley’s birthday party dress, among others.

This dazzling exhibition features over 130 costumes created by the film industry’s greatest designers. Costume wizards like Adrian at MGM gave Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Jeanette MacDonald, Norma Shearer, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr and others their “look.” Other designers represented in this exhibition include Edith Head, Elsa Schiaparelli, Walter Plunkett, Orry Kelly, Jean Louis, Helen Rose, Halston, and Bob Mackie.

Sean Connery’s warrior outfit from Robin and Marian, Tyrone Power’s matador costume from Blood and Sand, Fredric March’s jeweled tunic costume from the Affairs of Cellini and many other extraordinary men’s costumes will be a unique feature of this exhibition. Also on display is Michael Jackson’s fabulous prince outfit worn for a 1985 photo shoot.

This world-class collection was assembled by beloved Philadelphia-area TV personality and fashion designer Gene London. As a leading collector of vintage clothing and couture, he is a source for designers who purchase garments from his collection for inspiration. For example, Jean Paul Gautier’s current collection pays homage to old Hollywood Glamour. Another client, Dolce and Gabanna’s current line is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

London hosted a popular daily children’s show seen on WCAU-TV from 1958 to 1977. (Click on Gene's photo to watch vintage TV clip from tvparty.com) On his award-winning Cartoon Corners General Store, he was producer, director, writer and star drawing upon his many talents and charismatic personality to create a magical environment where he told stories, myths, folklore, and illustrated them on his drawing board. Watch more clips from Gene's show in 1961 (YouTube).

His Saturday-morning hour-and-a-half T V show was top-rated in its time slot, and had a continuing storyline using local actors who appeared with him in weekly dramas like The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Planet of the Apes and others. One of the show’s highlights was the haunted house, Quigley Mansion. London’s rating demographics indicated that senior citizens enjoyed the program as much as children did, and famous stars of stage and screen such as Kirk Douglas, Lucille Ball, Myrna Loy and Mary Tyler Moore would often guest on the show.

It was Joan Crawford who started Gene on his amazing collection by sending him outfits from her screen and personal wardrobes, among them her shoulder pads. Gene’s good friend, Albert Boscov, introduced him to Reading and encouraged him to join the alliance to bring films and filmmaking to the area. London said, “The City of Reading and its environs is tailor-made for films and television shows. Centre Park, for example, is like the set from Meet Me in St. Louis and is just one of the hundreds of locations this city boasts.”

London, who serves as co-curator for the exhibition with Scott A. Schweigert, the Museum’s Art Curator, is involved with all phases, including a related film festival, costume seminar and other programming to be announced. He has designed costumes for movies, Broadway, television and celebrity clients.

His fashion show production, The Search for Scarlett, tells the story of the leading ladies who wanted to play Scarlett. London also designed Scarlett’s gown used for publicity for the Random House sequel. This gown, also worn by Alicia Silverstone, will be included in this exhibition.

Recently, London traveled the globe for Mikimoto Pearls with exhibits on Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. His love of Hollywood fueled his passion for collecting costumes. He added, “The Golden Age of Hollywood touched moviegoers the world over and gave us a magic place where dreams came true. The stars were memorable, as were the beautiful costumes they wore. I am thrilled to share my collection with you to enjoy.”

Additional programming will be scheduled at the Museum and The Planetarium, all related thematically to Hollywood and fashion. As these special events are announced, they will be posted here on our Web site.

Ronald C. Roth, former Director and CEO of the Reading Public Museum commented, “This exhibition will appeal to many people for many reasons. Not only is there a fascination for the costumes and glamour of the movie industry, but many adults grew up watching Gene’s TV show, and were inspired by his creativity and enthusiasm.” Roth added, “This exhibition offers many opportunities for us to partner with our community on related programming. It’s one of the most entertaining exhibitions ever presented at the Museum.”

See Gene London discuss some of the costumes that are appearing in the show – click here to watch our BCTV program, "What's Happening at the Reading Public Museum, " which originally aired 9/11/09.

Watch the BCTV show, "Tuning In" and see host Robert Moyer and Gene London tour and discuss the exhibition (Part 1).... click here!

Watch Scott Schweigert, Art Curator of the Reading Public Museum and co-curator for this exhibition, on Comcast Local Edition! Click here (YouTube)

Red Carpet Premiere Photos Available

If you had your picture taken by the photographer (Richard Entzminger) at our "official premiere backdrop," check www.photosbylightart.com to view and order.


This exhibition is underwritten by the Marlin and Ginger Miller Exhibition Endowment. The Reading Public Museum is supported in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

In-kind donations for this exhibition were generously provided by Signs and More, Lamar Advertising and Reading Eagle Company.

Images, from top to bottom: Mira Sorvino, as Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jean & Marilyn (HBO, 1996), “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, Designer: Gene London Original; Gene London as he appeared on WCAU TV in Philadelphia; Norma Shearer, as Marie Antoinette in Marie Antoinette (MGM, 1938), Designer: Adrian Original; Mae West, as Peaches O’Day in Every Day’s a Holiday, (Paramount Pictures, 1938), Designer: Elsa Schiaparelli Original; Ingrid Bergman, original evening gown from publicity tour promoting the film Casablanca, 1942; Gene London with Vivien Leigh, as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (MGM, 1939), Bar-b-que dress, Designer: Walter Plunkett (recreation), and Mira Sorvino as Marilyn Monroe

For a PDF file of the latest press release, click here.