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Angela Alexander, a woman’s costumer who became friends with Marilyn Monroe and earned a reputation as being able to control the difficult actress on the set, died Oct. 8 at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 94.
During her more than four decades in Hollywood, Alexander also worked on dozens of films with her husband, men’s costumer Wes Jefferies, including Robert Wise’s I Want to Live (1958), which earned Susan Hayward a best actress Oscar; China Doll (1958) starring Victor Mature; Richard Donner’s X-15 (1961); and two films in 1962 fronted by Frank Sinatra, Sergeants 3 and The Manchurian Candidate.
Alexander, as a member of the costume department at Fox, met Monroe on the set of the actress’ first film, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947), and they became close friends, according to Alexander’s nephew, editor and director Nicholas Eliopoulos.
Often summoned by Fox to help ease tension during production, Alexander worked with Monroe on We’re Not Married!, Don’t Bother to Knock and Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business, all from 1952; Niagara (1953); There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954); and Something’s Got to Give, which was never completed as Monroe died during filming in August 1962. Eliopoulos said Alexander never believed that Monroe committed suicide.
Eliopoulos recalls his aunt telling him a story about the time Monroe was upset about being set up on a blind date. Alexander asked if she knew anything about the guy, and Monroe replied, “Oh, he’s just some ballplayer.” When Alexander found out it was Joe DiMaggio, she urged Monroe to go. “The rest is history,” Eliopoulos said.
When Sinatra discovered that Alexander and Jefferies had just gotten married before they started work on the Rat Pack comedy Sergeants 3, the actor sent the couple on an all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Greece aboard his private plane when production wrapped.
Later, Alexander worked on such films as Toys in the Attic and Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce, both from 1963; Seven Days in May (1964); two Elvis Presley films from 1966, Frankie and Johnny and Paradise, Hawaiian Style; The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966); The Party (1968) starring Peter Sellers; Gaily, Gaily (1969); and The Organization (1971), her last film with Jefferies (he died in 2000). Alexander’s would work on one more film, The All-American Boy (1973), starring Jon Voight, before retiring from the business.
Alexander’s sister was VouLee Giokaris, who also worked as a Hollywood costumer; her 50-year career included work on such classics as The King and I, The Sound of Music and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? She died in August.
A memorial service for Alexander is set for Nov. 9 at Mount Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home in her hometown of Kansas, City, Mo.
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