In my new Slate article about Eva Rosencrans and Bee Zelin, I quoted frequently from Eva's "memoir" -- a short autobiographical essay that her family encouraged her to write for posterity a few years before her death, provided to me by her son, Bob Rosencrans.
The memoir was an invaluable research tool for me (if only every Permanent Record student had created something similar!), and the bits that I quoted in the Slate article are just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next few days I plan to share some other excerpts that didn't make it into the Slate article but should nonetheless be interesting to anyone who read about Eva's life.
In the article, I mentioned that Nettie Rosenstein -- Eva's sister-in-law, professional mentor, and eventual business partner -- retired in 1928 but then revived her career a few years later when she and her husband lost most of their fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. During that short period when Nettie was retired, Eva worked for another designer, named Rosie Roth. One of the models at their showroom would go on to bigger things, as Eva recalled in her memoir:
One young woman was a tall girl with red, stringy hair. I preferred shorter girls and told her so. She laughingly said she as going out to Hollywood to try show business. Her name was Lucille Ball.
Ball's modeling work with Rosie Roth is confirmed by many historical accounts, including this one, although Eva herself is never mentioned -- understandable, since she was just one of Roth's employees at the time. The photo at the top of this blog entry is one of Ball's early modeling shots from this period, although I don't know if Eva had anything to do with the outfit she's wearing.
Eva had many other brushes with celebrity -- and so did her clothing. At one point in her memoir she wrote:
A lot of movie stars wore our dresses. They bought them and wore them. I saw a movie not too long ago, an old movie with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint -- I can't remember the name. And in she comes, wearing one of my dreses.
This movie was probably North by Northwest. But which scene? Which dress?
I'll have more excerpts from Eva's memoir in the coming days, along with some follow-up info on Bee Zelin (whose story was also told in the new Slate article). Stay tuned.