Oct. 23, 1947: Hollywood Fashion Designer, Partner Die Within Hours; Family Sues Over Estate of Men With ‘Strange Attachment’

L.A. Times, 1947

L.A. Times, 1947Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project..

Robert and Joseph were close—even in death. They shared a home filled with antiques, bric-a-brac and paintings at 4329 Agnes Ave. in North Hollywood, as well as their bank accounts, and were the beneficiaries of each other’s wills.
But after they died within a few hours of one another, leaving a combined estate of $25,000 ($236,604.65 USD 2005), their families said they were too close. A lawsuit brought by Robert’s aunt and uncle charged that Joseph and Robert had “a strange attachment.”

Robert M. Kalloch, who died at the age of 50, was one of Hollywood’s leading dress designers in the 1930s and ’40s, beginning at Columbia, where he was the studio’s first major designer, working on such pictures as “It Happened One Night,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “His Girl Friday,” and then MGM. Born in New York, he attended the School of Fine and Applied Arts and spent several years in Europe designing for Lucille Ltd. before coming to Los Angeles.

Kalloch occasionally wrote about fashion for The Times and was frequently interviewed. In a 1940 Times article, he said: “Stop dressing to please yourself and dress to please men.” He exploded with wrath at the suggestion women already dress to please their boyfriends. “They certainly don’t, otherwise they would not wear open-toed shoes, painted nails, heavy eye shadows, tricked-up hair, incredible hats and all the other things most men hate,” he snapped.

Very little is known about Kalloch’s inseparable companion, Joseph H. De Marais, except that he was 10 years younger, had a brother in Massachusetts and another in Rhode Island.

Since Kalloch died at 9:30 a.m., and De Marais died at 1:30 p.m. after contacting authorities, De Marais’ survivors stood to inherit everything, prompting the suit by Kalloch’s family.

Unfortunately, The Times never followed up on this story, so there’s no further information. It seems fairly apparent that this was a gay couple and certainly newspapers were extremely squeamish about the subject of homosexuality in the 1940s. The contents of the house were auctioned off in December 1947 and included sterling silver, Rogers 1847 plate, miniatures, books and miscellaneous items.

Many of Kalloch’s drawings are in UCLA Special Collections in the materials of Peggy Hamilton Adams, described in the library’s website as “a colorful figure whose voluminous papers document her career as the self-proclaimed best dressed girl in Hollywood.”

 

Quote of the day: “To me, the American woman will be more interesting than ever because with her willingness to put her shoulder to the wheel she will at the same time not forget to be her ‘loveliest to look at’ self.”

Robert Kalloch, on military influences in women’s fashions during World War II.

 

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1947, Fashion, Film, Hollywood, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Obituaries and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Oct. 23, 1947: Hollywood Fashion Designer, Partner Die Within Hours; Family Sues Over Estate of Men With ‘Strange Attachment’

  1. thestarlightstudiosbcglobal.net says:

    Creating the Illusion (Turner Classic Movies) | | | | | |

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    | | | | Creating the Illusion (Turner Classic Movies) Marilyn Monroe made history by standing over a subway grating in a white pleated halter dress designed by Willia… | |

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    From: WordPress.com To: thestarlightstudio@sbcglobal.net Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 5:22 AM Subject: [New post] Oct. 23, 1947: Hollywood Fashion Designer, Partner Die Within Hours; Family Sues Over Estate of Men With ‘Strange Attachment’ #yiv1620440406 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1620440406 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1620440406 a.yiv1620440406primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1620440406 a.yiv1620440406primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1620440406 a.yiv1620440406primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1620440406 a.yiv1620440406primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1620440406 WordPress.com | lmharnisch posted: “Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project..Robert and Joseph were close—even in death. They shared a home filled with antiques, bric-a-brac and paintings at 4329 Agnes Ave. in North Hollywood, as well as the” | |

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  2. “Stop dressing to please yourself and dress to please men.”
    Bleah. Anyway, judging by a number of his designs, he thought straight men were really into enormous shoulder emphasis on women, which I know for a fact is not typically true.

    It’s interesting to see that Peggy Hamilton Adams herself designed clothes for stage female impersonator Julian Eltinge, according to one online description of her papers.

    Oh, btw, it’s “Lucile Ltd.”, the company of pioneering fashion designer Lady Duff-Gordon, Titanic survivor (some say heartless lifeboat hogger) and sister of writer Elinor Glyn. I think she spelled it with one L to be more authentically French-sounding.

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    • lmharnisch says:

      Thanks…. It’s interesting to revisit these old posts — I have forgotten many of them. My main point in writing this post was to illustrate how squeamish newspapers were in the 1940s about anything related to the LGBTQ community. In the 1940s, even the word “homosexual” was shocking and utterly forbidden in newspapers, so reporters had to resort to code words like “lifelong bachelor,” etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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