Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Producing Gone With The Wind


Production still of Monty Westmore and Hazel Rogers styling Olivia de Havilland. Click to enlarge.

Monty Westmore and Hazel Rogers styling Olivia de Havilland.

Hazel Rogers

Like many early behind-the-scenes Hollywood crew members, Hazel Rogers's role in movie making was greatly overlooked. During her career, hair and makeup were not yet celebrated aspects of movie production. Despite her hidden role in the big pictures she worked on, she led a robust life as a Hollywood hairstylist and world traveler.

Rogers was hired as head hairdresser for Gone With The Wind on November 25, 1938, just two weeks before production began. Her husband, Robert P. Thompson, an avid historical newspaper and book collector, helped her research elegant coiffures from the 1860s. Through their vigorous research and exploration of late-nineteenth-century hair styling, Hazel was able to create a unique style for each female cast member, demonstrating historical accuracy while complementing each character's personality.

Hazel Rogers's career is under-celebrated, although she was a trailblazer in the field of makeup artistry. It wasn't until 1981 that the Academy Award for Best Makeup category was created. In 2012, this category was finally expanded to Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. In her time, her peers regarded Rogers as the best hairdresser in Hollywood. The ability to speak five languages, dexterity with a variety of hairstyles, and a knowledge of current trends kept Rogers on the payroll at RKO and helped her win multiple "hair-do of the month" awards in LIFE's Venida advertisements. Her credibility as a hair expert gave her superiority in the field and earned her roles in the filming of major motion pictures such as Gone With The Wind.

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