In Remembrance: Moss Mabry


     Moss Mabry, the Academy Award-nominated costume designer who dressed James Dean in his signature red jacket for Rebel Without A Cause, has passed away on January 25, 2006 in Oceanside, California. He was 87.


     Born in Marianna, Florida in 1918, Mabry studied mechanical engineering at University of Florida, even though he had an interest in clothing design spawned in high school when he helped design costumes a sets for school plays. After working at the Florida State Highway Department as an engineer, Mabry decided to change careers to fashion design. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute and then worked for designer Don Loper, before signing a contract with Warner Brothers Studios in 1953.


     Over the course of his 35 year career, Mabry costumed such stars as Marlon Brando, Goldie Hawn, Grace Kelly, Dean Martin, Liza Minnelli, Robert Redford and Lana Turner. Some of the films Mabry worked on include Dial ĎMí For Murder (1954), Mister Roberts (1955), The Bad Seed (1956), Mutiny On The Bounty (1962), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Cactus Flower (1969), The Mephisto Waltz (1971), The Shootist (1976), King Kong (1976) and The Toy (1982).


     Although Hollywood legend states that the red windbreaker worn by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause (1955) was purchased off the rack at a Hollywood menís store, Mabry actually built three jackets for the film from red nylon.


     Mabry worked on Deanís next film Giant (1956). Since director George Stevens didnít want to use onscreen graphics to note the changing dates in the filmís sprawling saga of two generations of Texans, it fell to Mabry to show the passage of time from 1924 to 1954 through costuming. His work designing 42 costume changes for the film earned him his first Academy Award nomination.


     Mabry earned an additional three Oscar nominations for the films What A Way To Go! (1964), Morituri (1965) and The Way We Were  (1973).