Where does one star when introducing William Travilla: a man, a legend and according to all who new him 'an amazing guy'.

He was born on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California in March of 1920. At an early age he demonstrated genuine talent and was enrolled in the prestigious Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles. Travilla's skills proved so advanced that he was transferred into adult classes at eight years old.

When Travilla was sixteen, he developed a fascination with the burlesque clubs he passed each day on his way to school. His artistic curiosity finally got the best of him and he began stopping in to see the shows. After all this young man had been painting naked ladies in school since he was a child. It was here that Travilla became a professional artist and developed his first costumes. He set up shop selling pencil sketches to the showgirls for a flat rate of three costume designs for five dollars.

One of the oldest sketches in the collection: Travilla was 16

Soon after staring his first design business, Travilla inherited $5,000 from his grandfather and he decided to experience the world. He and a cousin spent almost a year travelling through the South Seas. During and extended layover in the Island of Tahiti, Travilla painted what we think could be some of his most compelling work; a breathtaking set of islander portraits (some are still at the estate to this day). This idyllic time was cut as the world geared up for war, and travel through the Pacific became restricted. Travilla (now draft age) returned to the US. He was declared 4F due to flat feet and went back to school (Woodbury University) and started looking for work in Hollywood.

Travilla landed his first film job at the already legendary "Western Costume" where he began ghost-sketching fro studio designers. After a stint at Western here he learned the business, Travilla took a job at "Jack's of Hollywood". At Jack's he gets his first big name client, Sonja Henie. With his success at Jack's Travilla set up on his own; And fails, but this turned out to be a blessing. To make ends meet be began selling Tahiti inspired paintings at the hot spot "Don The Beachcomber". A regular customer of the restaurant was the rising star Ann Sheridan, she begins to collect Travilla's work and eventually asked to meet the young artist. They hit it off and she brought Travilla on to the Warner lot as her personal costume designer.

 

 

 

 

In 1947, Travilla the respect of the Hollywood establishment when he styled Sheridan's gowns for Nora Prentiss and then again in 1948 for her period drama Silver Rive. A true Hollywood legend was watching from the sidelines. Errol Flynn asked to Travilla on his next film The Adventures of Don Juan, which earned Travilla his first Oscar nomination and his only win for Best Costume Design. Travilla stayed at Warner for five years working on as many as nine films a year, including many classics

 

 In 1952 Travilla leaves Warner for 20tCentury Fox and a fateful encounter with a certain blonde. At Fox, Travilla first met Marilyn Monroe and over the course of a few short years they worked on eight films, had an affair and styled some of the most famous gowns in film history. The persona of Marilyn Monroe and the glamorous style of Travilla combine to create a force that is still influencing fashion to this day.

Travilla was nominated for an Emmy six years running from 1980 through 1986 and won twice (Moviola - The Scarlett O'Hara War and Dallas) He was nominated for an Oscar four times and one once.