Happy Birthday, Gene Tierney: A Classic Hollywood Palette

Henri Matisse once said, “With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”

That being the case, I do not hesitate to say that movie color is without doubt some of the beautiful magic ever conjured. And given its proven abilities to brighten even the grayest of days, I have decided to resurrect a long-dormant project of mine: a weekly color palette, sampled off a film (or production) still from Hollywood’s Golden Age. One of the (myriad) missions here at The Retro Set is to always try and look at the world through Technicolor glasses–yes, even a world as problematic as ours– and it is our hope  that these little swaths of color will provide a needed burst of energy– perhaps even inspire a smidge of creativity–to infuse and rejuvenate the weekly drudge.

When it comes to Technicolor, there are some names that are inextricably linked with that definitive Classic Hollywood process. Marilyn Monroe and her flaming pink Niagara dress? Vivien Leigh and her crimson negligee in Gone With the Wind? Cuh-lassic. But while most people equate the superlative Gene Tierney with the sultry, smoky, definitively film noir shadows of black and white cinema, for me her ethereal beauty was simply made for Technicolor.

Tierney’s extraordinary beauty is a matter of record. That stunning Laura portrait of her is matched only by the flesh itself– and bested in her color films. Leave Her to Heaven, with Leon Shamroy’s decadent cinematography, is her most famous color film. But even in her frivolous forays, like On the Riviera with Danny Kaye, the Technicolor Tierney is impossibly perfect.

The shot below is fresh and carefree: my personal favorite photo of Tierney, who today would have celebrated her 95th birthday. Young and energetic, this photo captures a Tierney that was still some time yet from those dark demons that would come to possess her.  The tragedy of her daughter’s birth was years off, and her internal personal battle, although prevalent, was not yet consuming.

I love the hope and life and genuine spark of this Classic Hollywood Palette– and also hope that Gene, a beautiful woman inside and out, enjoyed more of these joyful moments than her legend suggests.


Gene Tirney’s palette is both soft and bold, creamy and commanding; feminine and fierce. We highly encourage you to use the following hexes in your design endeavors:

Gene Tierney_Palette
#4e3cb6 ;  #d92f4c ; #f9ece4 ; #271f5a

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