Robert L. Spencer, Partner of Late Fashion Icon Mr. Blackwell, Is Dead
He and the creator of Hollywood's legendary Worst-Dressed List founded an ultraglamorous label for women in the late 1950s and were together for 59 years.
Robert L. Spencer, the business and personal partner of Richard Blackwell, the late bad boy of fashion behind the infamous Worst-Dressed List in Hollywood, has died. He was 94.
Spencer died Saturday morning of a heart attack in Los Angeles on the eve of the 86th annual Academy Awards, publicist Harlan Boll announced.
Spencer and Blackwell, who died in October 2008 at age 86, were partners for 59 years.
"I remember them both so fondly," actress Tippi Hedren said in a statement. "They were kind, charitable and loving men."
"Robert gave me the honor of wearing the last gown that Mr. B had designed, before his passing, to the Daytime Emmys," said Kate Linder (The Young and the Restless). "I will miss our dinners together and the wonderful laughs we had during visits to their home in Hancock Park."
Spencer, a native of Indianapolis, was a hairdresser at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills when he was introduced to Blackwell -- then a manager and struggling actor -- by Cary Grant and Randolph Scott Jr. It wasn't long before they became a Hollywood power couple and launched their ultraglamorous House of Blackwell fashion line in 1958.
The list of women they dressed included Jayne Mansfield, Carol Channing, Mae West, Peggy Lee, Ann Blyth, Goldie Hawn, Michele Lee, June Lockhart, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell and Nancy Reagan.
With Mr. Blackwell, as he was known, designing the dresses and happy to be in the spotlight, Spencer quietly oversaw the fashion dynasty they were building while also producing Blackwell's ABC Radio show and The Mr. Blackwell Show on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles from 1964 to 1967.
Blackwell used his annual and outrageous Worst-Dressed List, which he introduced in 1964, to promote his label. An alternative to the popular International Best-Dressed List from fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, it created quite the stir each January.
Among those Blackwell harpooned over the years were Elizabeth Taylor, Ann-Margret, Diana Ross, Cher, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith.