Five Questions I Had Watching...Funny Face

When you want that 'quelque choses' you can think pink, according to Funny Face, but you can also sit down and enjoy this frothy fashion musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

Here are Five Questions I Had Watching...Funny Face!

1. Who wrote the songs in Funny Face?

via filmtvdaily

Funny Face uses songs from the songbook of George and Ira Gershwin, so that's why these songs sound so familiar (and are toe-tapping in most cases). Although it's semi-based on the Broadway musical, it departs heavily from the original's subject matter and only uses a few of the songs. New songs were composed by Roger Edens.

2. Did Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire get along? 

They did, but nerves did get in the way sometimes. More to the point, Audrey was thrilled at the prospect of starring in a musical with Fred Astaire because one of her childhood dreams was to dance with him (she'd lament, during filming, that the soggy and muddy ground hampered the dance and ruined the idyllic scene she'd created in her mind). And Fred really wanted to work with Audrey because who didn't?

The only friction on set came about, apparently, because of Fred's nervousness over the age gap between himself and Audrey; and because he wanted to impress her with his dancing prowess. Kay Thompson was quoted as saying that he'd get nervous and would pick at Audrey, and that Audrey would later confide that she found Fred "a bit of a strain." 

For his part, in an interview at the end of his life, Fred would reminisce about Funny Face, and although he admitted he thought the movie had good parts, he could've found a few things that would have helped it. And about Audrey, he said that he loved working with her and "anyone who has the privilege of working with Audrey Hepburn...I enjoyed working with her. I don't know if I gave her the very best."

But how they got into making Funny Face is a funny story in and of itself because the producers tricked them both into thinking the other had signed on, knowing that they'd sign on themselves at the prospect of working with the other. 

3. Who is this model?

That's Dovima, one of the biggest supermodels of the 1950s, and the first to go by a single name (her real name: Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba. She got the name Dovima from Dorothy Virginia Margaret. 

In Funny Face, she plays the comic book-obsessed Marion in the musical movie that takes inspiration from fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who she worked with throughout her career. At her height, she was receiving $60 an hour where other models received $25. 

Dovima modelled in the '50s but after giving birth and going through a divorce that ruined her financially, she tried other career endeavours. She died in 1990 of liver cancer. 

4. Who was Kay Thompson and how can I be her when I grow up?

via madeline-kahn

In a word, Kay Thompson was fabulous and I want to be her someday. This is her Wikipedia opening line of occupations: "author, singer, vocal arranger, vocal coach, composer, musician, dancer, actress, and choreographer." Oh, and she's the creator of Eloise, as in Eloise at the Plaza

So she started in radio in the '30s, then moved to film later that decade. In the '40s, she became MGM's top vocal coach and arranger and choral director; but left in 1947 to go work in nightclubs with her act Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. 

Then in the '50s, aside from her only acting role in Funny Face, she created and wrote the Eloise series of books, with the precocious main character inspired by Liza Minnelli. Factor in the television appearances, the many recordings she made, and the vocal coaching she continued to do, and you have one well-lived life. 

Kay Thompson died in 1998 at the age of 88. 

5. What were the top fashion magazines of the '50s?

It goes without saying that Vogue was en vogue in the '50s. There was also Harper's Bazaar and Mademoiselle. And it goes without saying that Audrey was considered one of the decade's biggest fashion plates, someone who appeared in many fashion editorials throughout the decade. Her partnership with Givenchy was more than just professional; she and Hubert de Givenchy were like kindred spirits. 

Audrey was photographed by Richard Avedon, the photographer that formed the basis of Fred Astaire's character in Funny Face, and became quite close with him. Robbie Wolders, her partner, once said that "Audrey trusted Dick completely. And once she trusted someone, she'd do anything. She often said that working with him was like having a conversation with a good friend."


  1. I really enjoyed your post! I'm not a huge fan of musicals, and while I had Funny Face on in the background when it aired on TCM earlier this summer, it really didn't grab me. I love trivia and behind-the-scenes stuff, though, and there was so much in your post that I ate up like it was Skittles! I will be Googling Dovima as soon as I send this comment, and I loved learning more about Kay Thompson, who I first heard of several years ago at a TCM film fest -- she was the answer to one of the trivia contest questions! And I loved how Hepburn and Astaire were tricked into signing up for the film. Good stuff, all.


Post a Comment