Farewell Virginia Gibson

I was saddened to here of the death of Virginia Gibson just about a month ago, aged 88. During the Hollywood “Golden Years” of musicals she was one of those “triple-threat gals” -a trained and accomplished dancer, she was also a great character actress and could more than hold a tune to boot. But for an abundant excess of similar talents at the time, she would have been undoubtedly graced us with far more than the dozen or so movies she appeared in. I have only seen her in three movies, and she is undoubtedly remembered best from one of these, when she portrayed Liza in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Virginia Gibson (Liza), second from left next to Jane Powell (Millie)

Virginia Gibson (Liza), second from left next to Jane Powell (Millie)

The dresses for the “captivity scenes” were apparently made from real quilts that Walter Plunkett had hunted in Salvation Army stores, to add authenticity to the idea that the six brides would have arrived at the Pontipee house with no clothes apart from those they wore. When he forwarded them to the costuming department, apparently the joke was that MGM was cutting the budget – yet again. MGM saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as very much on the B-movie schedule, and was pouring all available funds into the Brigadoon and Rose-Marie musical productions – the A-list offers of 1954. In the end Seven Brides for Seven Brothers blitzed both of them, and even forced Brigadoon from a spot playing at the Radio City Music Hall – such was it’s instant popularity…

Here is Liza and the other girls (minus Millie who is “with child”) singing and dancing to “June Bride”. They are all so sexy in this clip – you wouldn’t think such small waists could be made any tinier using the corsetry they are in…I remember seeing an interview with Virginia where she claimed that that the corsets were no trouble to dance in, but they made it almost impossible to sit down. Enjoy, and thank you Virginia Gibson!


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