Ret Turner

Costume Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Ret Turner (1929-2016) describes his two-decade-long association with NBC that began in the mid-1950s. He talks about several of the shows he worked on in the early years, including The Spike Jones Show (where he was a dresser), The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and The Andy Williams Show (where he was a costume designer). Turner recalls his work for the other networks on many variety series and specials, describes the clothes he designed for the stars of Donny and Marie and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and discusses some of the skits and guest stars from these shows. He remembers working with many other stars, including Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Shirley Booth, Jean Stapleton, and scores of others. Additionally, he outlines his work on Mama's Family, Make Your Own Kind of Music, the pilot of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and numerous musical specials. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on June 17, 2003 in West Hollywood, CA.

"Back then it was all so spectacular. We were given a format and we did a lot of clothes and those dancers changed outfits sometimes eight times during a four-minute musical number, and they were all incredible looking. The costumes added an interesting element to the show. People now feel they get in the way of the show and I can understand that. That's why they don't do them anymore."  

Highlights
Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
01:02
Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny & Cher Show post their divorce
01:03
Ret Turner on Bob Mackie as someone he looks up to; on his work ethic
01:00
Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards
00:53
Ret Turner on doing wardrobe at NBC for 20 years
02:29
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on joining the wardrobe department at NBC and working on The Spike Jones Show
On doing wardrobe for The Pinky Lee Show; on working in live television; on doing wardrobe for Milton Berle, Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland

Chapter 2

On doing wardrobe for The Dinah Shore Show; on working for NBC; on "wardrobe challenges"
On doing wardrobe for Andy Williams, Tallulah Bankhead and Elizabeth Taylor; on dealing with Standards and Practices; on doing wardrobe for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Chapter 3

On the craft of costume designing; on costume designing for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and for various other Sonny and Cher shows
On what makes him a good costume designer; on designing costumes for the Osmond family; on being costume designer for Donny and Marie and for Mama's Family

Chapter 4

On costume design for Mama's Family; on costume design for Carol Burnett, Mitzi Gaynor, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond and Whoopi Goldberg
On costume design for Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The Jerry Lewis Show, and Bob Hope's television specials; on working with directors

Chapter 5

On costume design for Carol Burnett, Ann Jillian and Bonnie Hunt; on costume design and dressing for The Academy Awards telecast; on the "Who are you wearing?" era
On Cher's infamous Oscars dress; on costume design for Barry Manilow and Suzanne Somers; on successful collaborations and then-current projects

Chapter 6

On his personal style; on advice to aspring costume designers; on the impact of television on fashion; on his work ethic and how he'd like to be remembered
On B-Roll photos from his career: Drawing of the "Flying Down to Rio" number from Wow; sketch of the cast of Mama's Family; photo of him with Cher; photo of Cher at photo session; photo of him as Santa Claus; sketches of Marie Osmond, Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers, Ethel Merman, Pia Zadora, Nell Carter, and Andy Williams; sketches of Tim Conway as "Dorff and of Vicki Lawrence as "Mama"; sketches of Beverly Archer, Carol Burnett, Dorothy Lyman, Suzanne Somers, Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, Elton John, and Jim Nabors; photo of Bill Clinton; his Emmys
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards
06:50
Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
01:02
Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards
00:53

Andy Williams Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show
03:30
Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show
01:30

Bob Hope Specials

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Ret Turner on costume design for Bob Hope's television specials
01:28

Bonnie Hunt Show, The

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Bonnie Hunt Show
01:07

Carol & Company

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Ret Turner on costume design for Carol & Company
02:47

Carol Burnett Show, The (1991)

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Ret Turner on the attempted revival of The Carol Burnett Show
00:42

Cher

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Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows the pair worked on together
02:01

Dinah Shore Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Dinah Shore Show
01:34

Donny and Marie

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Ret Turner on how he came to do costume design for Donny and Marie
01:31
Ret Turner on costume designing for the Osmond family
01:33
Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny and Marie
05:01
Ret Turner on getting fired from Donny and Marie
01:24

Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, The

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank with Carol Burnett
01:36

Jennifer Slept Here

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Ret Turner on costume design for Jennifer Slept Here
01:10

Jerry Lewis Show, The (1967-69)

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Jerry Lewis Show
02:20

Judy Garland Show, The

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Ret Turner on troubleshooting wardrobe on The Judy Garland Show
01:42

Lux Video Theatre

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Ret Turner on working on the live Lux Video Theater
01:18

Make Your Own Kind of Music

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Ret Turner on dong wardrobe for The Carpenters on Make Your Own Kind of Music
01:25

Mama's Family

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Ret Turner on doing costume design for Mama's Family
01:14
Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family
05:41
Ret Turner on winning an Emmy for costume design on Mama's Family
00:49

NBC Matinee Theater

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Ret Turner on a mishap during Matinee Theater
00:59

Pinky Lee Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Pinky Lee Show
00:47

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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Ret Turner on costume design for the pilot of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
03:16

She TV

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Ret Turner on costume design for She TV
01:34

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour

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Ret Turner on how he came to do costume design for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:32
Ret Turner on working with Bob Mackie on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
02:31
Ret Turner on the collaboration for the wardrobe for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:19
Ret Turner on working with Sonny Bono and Cher on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:57
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:46
Ret Turner on costume designing for the sketches and dance numbers on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:56
Ret Turner on costume designing for the characters on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
01:05
Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows the pair worked on together
02:01
Ret Turner on Jean Stapleton guest starring on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:17

Sonny Comedy Review, The

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Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows the pair worked on together
02:01

Spike Jones

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Ret Turner on how he came work as a dresser for the The Spike Jones Show
01:03
Ret Turner on his duties on The Spike Jones Show
00:49

Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show
03:36

Texaco Star Theater

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theater
01:24
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Ret Turner on how network Standards and Practices affected his wardrobe decisions
03:20

Emmy Awards

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Ret Turner on where he keeps his Emmys
00:46

Memorable Moments on Television

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Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
01:02

Pop Culture

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Ret Turner on the impact of television on fashion; on the changing standard of beauty
02:45

Technological Innovation

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Ret Turner on advances in camera and lighting technology in regards to wardrobe for television
02:22

Television Industry

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Ret Turner on how network Standards and Practices affected his wardrobe decisions
01:41
Professions

Costume Designer

View Profession
Ret Turner on the craft of costume design
02:44
Ret Turner on the craft of designing
02:14
Ret Turner on working with directors
02:02
Ret Turner on his personal design style
02:10
Ret Turner on advice to aspiring costume designers; on the role of television on fashion
01:24

Designers

View Profession
Ret Turner on the craft of costume design
02:44
Ret Turner on working with directors
02:02
Ret Turner on his personal design style
02:10
Ret Turner on advice to aspiring costume designers; on the role of television on fashion
01:24
Genres

Awards Shows

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards
06:50

Comedy Series

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Mama's Family
05:51

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
12:05
Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny and Marie
13:02
People

Debbie Allen

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Ret Turner on costume design for Debbie Allen
01:25
Ret Turner on costume design for Cool Women
00:47

Don Ameche

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Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
01:02

Julie Andrews

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Ret Turner on costume design for Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett
00:53

Beatrice Arthur

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Ret Turner on costume design for Beatrice Arthur
01:16

Lucille Ball

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards
06:50

Tallulah Bankhead

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Tallulah Bankhead on The Andy Williams Show
01:30
Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards
06:50

Milton Berle

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theater
01:24

Ken Berry

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family
05:41

Sonny Bono

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Ret Turner on working with Sonny Bono and Cher on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:57
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:46
Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows
02:01
Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny & Cher Show post their divorce
01:03

Shirley Booth

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Ret Turner on costume design for Shirley Booth
01:01

Carol Burnett

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank with Carol Burnett
01:36
Ret Turner on costume design for Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett
00:53

Cher

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Ret Turner on Cher's costume issues with network Standards and Practices
01:08
Ret Turner on working with Sonny Bono and Cher on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:57
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:46
Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows
02:01
Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny & Cher Show post their divorce
01:03
Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
01:02

Perry Como

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Perry Como and Bing Crosby
03:34

Bing Crosby

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Perry Como and Bing Crosby
03:32

Billy Crystal

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Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards
00:53

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Sammy Davis, Jr.
00:38

Neil Diamond

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Ret Turner on costume design for Neil Diamond's 1986 television special
01:17

Tennessee Ernie Ford

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show
03:36

Judy Garland

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Judy Garland
01:42

Mitzi Gaynor

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mitzi Gaynor
01:28

Whoopi Goldberg

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Ret Turner on costume design for Whoopi Goldberg
01:11

Bob Hope

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Ret Turner on costume design for Bob Hope's television specials
01:28

Bonnie Hunt

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Bonnie Hunt Show
01:07

Vicki Lawrence

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family
05:41

Pinky Lee

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Pinky Lee Show
00:47

Jerry Lewis

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Jerry Lewis Show
02:29

Dorothy Lyman

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family
05:41

Bob Mackie

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Ret Turner on working with Bob Mackie on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
02:31
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:46
Ret Turner on Bob Mackie as someone he looks up to
00:33

Barry Manilow

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Ret Turner on costume design for Barry Manilow
01:50

Steve Martin

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Ret Turner on costume designing for the sketches and dance numbers on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
02:56

Marie Osmond

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny and Marie
05:01

Donny Osmond

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny and Marie
05:01

Martha Raye

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards
06:50

Joan Rivers

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Ret Turner on Joan Rivers and the "Who are you wearing?" era
01:04

Diana Ross

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Ret Turner on costume design for Diana Ross
01:28

Dinah Shore

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Dinah Shore Show
01:34

Suzanne Somers

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Ret Turner on costume design for Suzanne Somers
01:29

Jean Stapleton

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Ret Turner on Jean Stapleton guest-starring on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
01:17

Elizabeth Taylor

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Elizabeth Taylor
01:39

Lily Tomlin

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Ret Turner on costume designing for The Academy Awards
06:50

Andy Williams

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show
03:30

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