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."  

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny & Cher Show post their divorce
Ret Turner on Bob Mackie as someone he looks up to; on his work ethic
Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards
Ret Turner on doing wardrobe at NBC for 20 years
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 & 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
Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress
Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards

Andy Williams Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show
Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show

Bob Hope Specials

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

Bonnie Hunt Show, The

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Bonnie Hunt Show

Carol & Company

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Ret Turner on costume design for Carol & Company

Carol Burnett Show, The (1991)

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Ret Turner on the attempted revival of The Carol Burnett Show

Cher

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

Dinah Shore Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Dinah Shore Show

Donny & Marie

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Ret Turner on how he came to do costume design for Donny & Marie
Ret Turner on costume designing for the Osmond family
Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny & Marie
Ret Turner on getting fired from Donny & Marie

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

Jennifer Slept Here

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Ret Turner on costume design for Jennifer Slept Here

Jerry Lewis Show, The (1967-69)

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Jerry Lewis Show

Judy Garland Show, The

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Ret Turner on troubleshooting wardrobe on The Judy Garland Show

Lux Video Theatre

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Ret Turner on working on the live Lux Video Theater

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

Mama's Family

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Ret Turner on doing costume design for Mama's Family
Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family
Ret Turner on winning an Emmy for costume design on Mama's Family

NBC Matinee Theater

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Ret Turner on a mishap during Matinee Theater

Pinky Lee Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Pinky Lee Show

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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

She TV

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Ret Turner on costume design for She TV

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
Ret Turner on working with Bob Mackie on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on the collaboration for the wardrobe for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on working with Sonny Bono and Cher on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on costume designing for the sketches and dance numbers on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on costume designing for the characters on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on Sonny and Cher's divorce and subsequent shows the pair worked on together
Ret Turner on Jean Stapleton guest starring on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Sonny Comedy Review, The

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

Spike Jones

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Ret Turner on how he came work as a dresser for the The Spike Jones Show
Ret Turner on his duties on The Spike Jones Show

Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show

Texaco Star Theater

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

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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

Emmy Awards

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Ret Turner on where he keeps his Emmys

Memorable Moments on Television

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Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress

Pop Culture

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

Technological Innovation

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

Television Industry

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

Costume Designer

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Ret Turner on the craft of costume design
Ret Turner on the craft of designing
Ret Turner on working with directors
Ret Turner on his personal design style
Ret Turner on advice to aspiring costume designers; on the role of television on fashion

Designers

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Ret Turner on the craft of costume design
Ret Turner on working with directors
Ret Turner on his personal design style
Ret Turner on advice to aspiring costume designers; on the role of television on fashion
Genres

Awards Shows

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards

Comedy Series

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Mama's Family

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Ret Turner on costume designing for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny & Marie
People

Debbie Allen

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Ret Turner on costume design for Debbie Allen
Ret Turner on costume design for Cool Women

Don Ameche

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Ret Turner on dressing Cher in her infamous Academy Awards dress

Julie Andrews

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Ret Turner on costume design for Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett

Beatrice Arthur

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Ret Turner on costume design for Beatrice Arthur

Lucille Ball

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards

Tallulah Bankhead

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Tallulah Bankhead on The Andy Williams Show
Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards

Milton Berle

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theater

Ken Berry

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family

Sonny Bono

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

Shirley Booth

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Ret Turner on costume design for Shirley Booth

Carol Burnett

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

Cher

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

Perry Como

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Perry Como and Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Perry Como and Bing Crosby

Billy Crystal

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Ret Turner on dressing Billy Crystal for The Academy Awards

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Sammy Davis, Jr.

Neil Diamond

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

Tennessee Ernie Ford

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show

Judy Garland

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Judy Garland

Mitzi Gaynor

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mitzi Gaynor

Whoopi Goldberg

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Ret Turner on costume design for Whoopi Goldberg

Bob Hope

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

Bonnie Hunt

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Bonnie Hunt Show

Vicki Lawrence

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family

Pinky Lee

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Pinky Lee Show

Jerry Lewis

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Jerry Lewis Show

Dorothy Lyman

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Ret Turner on costume design for Mama's Family

Bob Mackie

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Ret Turner on working with Bob Mackie on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on costume designing for Sonny and Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
Ret Turner on Bob Mackie as someone he looks up to

Barry Manilow

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Ret Turner on costume design for Barry Manilow

Steve Martin

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

Marie Osmond

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny & Marie

Donny Osmond

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Ret Turner on costume designing for Donny & Marie

Martha Raye

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Ret Turner on costume design for The Academy Awards

Joan Rivers

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

Diana Ross

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Ret Turner on costume design for Diana Ross

Dinah Shore

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Dinah Shore Show

Suzanne Somers

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Ret Turner on costume design for Suzanne Somers

Jean Stapleton

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

Elizabeth Taylor

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for Elizabeth Taylor

Lily Tomlin

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Ret Turner on costume designing for The Academy Awards

Andy Williams

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Ret Turner on doing wardrobe for The Andy Williams Show

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