Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton, charismatic aerospace lab chief
Long Beach, California, Spring 1966
Film: The Glass Bottom Boat
Release Date: June 9, 1966
Director: Frank Tashlin
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (credited with Doris Day’s costumes only)
In honor of Aussie actor Rod Taylor’s birthday on January 11, 1930, today’s post explores the first movie of his that I’d seen. The Glass Bottom Boat reteamed Taylor with Doris Day after their collaboration the previous year in Do Not Disturb, this time in a Cold War-era romantic comedy where Doris’ PR flack is suspected of being a spy sent by Mother Russia to seduce scientific secrets out of Bruce Templeton, the debonair head of a NASA research facility.
The suspicions and seductions culminate during a party at Templeton’s home, in fact the mid-century estate that had recently been designed and constructed by architect David Lyle Fowler for his mother. (This home at 1261 Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills has since been demolished and replaced with the massive Pritzker estate mansion.)
What’d He Wear?
The subtle creative elements of Bruce Templeton’s black tie kit suggest a man of taste who respects tailoring well enough to add unique personal touches that neither interfere with tradition nor ignore trending fashions.
Perhaps the most noticeable affectation would be the black velvet trim on Bruce’s black dinner jacket, constructed from a material with a touch of shine that suggests a blend of wool and mohair, then a fashionable fabric for men’s tailoring. The collar is covered in black velvet, while the rest of the straight and sharp peak lapels appear to be the same material as the rest of the jacket; had these lapels been faced in silk as on a traditional dinner jacket, this could have clashed with the velvet trim to make the jacket too busy.
The lapels roll to a single black plastic button at the waist, which matches the two buttons on each cuff. Black velvet piping also accents the jetting along the straight hip pockets and around the top and sides of the welted breast pocket, where Bruce wears a triangular-folded scarlet silk pocket square. The nicely tailored ventless jacket has straight, English-style shoulders with light padding and roped sleeveheads.
Bruce’s white cotton dress shirt has a textured front bib split into stripes that alternate between a plain broadcloth finish and a white-on-white birdseye weave. It’s one of these birdseye stripes that runs vertically up the plain “French placket” where the buttonholes are cut, and through which Bruce wears three small black studs. The shirt also has double (French) cuffs and a point collar.
His short black satin bowtie is shaped in the then-fashionable batwing style, characterized by its narrow, almost rectangular, appearance when tied.
Bruce’s flat front formal trousers match his dinner jacket in the same shiny black fabric, detailed with the requisite black silk side striping. He covers the waist with a unique black silk cummerbund that fastens on through an adjustable back strap, though the design has three satin-covered buttons on the front and a gently dipped crest so that, with the dinner jacket on (but unbuttoned), the cummerbund would resemble a formal waistcoat with a low V-shaped opening.
Among the more conventional pieces of Bruce’s black tie ensemble are his black cap-toe oxford shoes, though they appear to be a calf leather rather than dressier patent leather.
Throughout The Glass Bottom Boat, Bruce Templeton wears a slim gold dress watch with a champagne gold dial and flat gold bracelet, indeed an ideal wristwatch style to wear for formal occasions.
We also see some interesting black tie looks from Bruce’s friends and fellow revelers. As his fiercely—and comically—loyal pal and colleague Zack Malloy, comedian Dick Martin dresses in the fashion that was then popular by his similarly named entertainer Dean Martin, right down to the informal white button-down collar shirt, butterfly-shaped bow tie, and bright red silk pocket square.
The Glass Bottom Boat also nods to its adopted genre with an uncredited cameo by Robert Vaughn, then in the middle of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘s four-season run on NBC. The heightened sense that the party is filled with spies and the music cue for Vaughn’s brief appearance suggests that he’s in character as Napoleon Solo, as does his dapper three-piece dinner suit, similar in style—if not exact detail—to one that he had worn on the series, as comprehensively written about by Matt Spaiser for Bond Suits.
What to Imbibe
After Jennifer Nelson (Doris Day) overhears Bruce and his colleagues discussing the possibility that she’s a spy, she decides to have some fun with their suspicions, kicking off the evening’s festivities with a drink that Bruce’s housekeeper Anna (Ellen Corby) describes as “Hooch… that’s half-Scotch, half-Bourbon.”
“It sounds delicious,” a steely Jenny replies before downing the glass. I suspect she was incorrect.
How to Get the Look
A classy guy like Bruce Templeton chooses his dinner suit wisely, incorporating touches of fashionable creativity allowed for the intimacy of a party hosted within his own home while still respecting the tested-and-true black tie traditions.
- Black wool-and-mohair single-button dinner jacket with velvet-collar peak lapels, velvet-trimmed welted breast pocket, velvet-jetted hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and no vents
- Scarlet red silk pocket square
- White cotton dress shirt with point collar, alternating self-striped bib, and double/French cuffs
- Black shirt studs
- Black satin silk batwing-style bow tie
- Black silk 3-button cummerbund
- Black wool-and-mohair flat front formal trousers with satin side striping, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black calf leather cap-toe oxfords
- Black socks
- Thin gold wristwatch with gold dial on flat gold bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
That’s right, pally, you play your games and I’ll play mine.