We’re Singin’ and Dancin’ in the Rain


Made in the 1950s, set in the 1920s, featuring an 18th-century movie — aww, yiss, it’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952), a technicolor masterpiece of music, dance, and wacky costumes by the master, Walter Plunkett! This is one of the funniest and most flat-out entertaining movies ever made, chock full of brilliant choreography and catchy songs, all wrapped around a clever story about Hollywood when movies switched from silent to talky. But let’s face it, the 1920s costumes aren’t exactly period-correct most of the time. Oh they do the job, in that Plunkett-y way, that’s for sure. So while stormy clouds chase everyone from the place, I’ve got a smile on my face lookin’ at the costumes from Singin’ in the Rain



The scene opens in 1927 at the premiere of the latest Don Lockwood / Lina Lamont movie, The Royal Rascal. All the Hollywood glitteri are there on the red carpet, and the fans are going wild!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

They’re so sporty and relatable to their fan base!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Here’s Zip Girl (no, I don’t have any idea what that means either), darling of the flapper set, and blatant gold-digger, Zelda Zanders, wearing the skins of her enemies.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Next it’s that exotic star, the Black Widow, Olga Mara. (I need her dress, like whoa.)

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

We’ve got a fainter in stripes, down front.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Lockwood and Lamont, they’re a household name — like bacon and eggs!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

What is going on with Lina’s hair? It’s like this wacky curl-helmet.

Pushy radio lady asks Don about his background so we can get some nifty vaudeville numbers with the mocking “dignity, always dignity” cover-up.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Fit as a fiddle and wearing remarkably well-matched plaids.

Don finally gets his big break as a stunt man opposite Lina, and their fakey-fake romance is born.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Cheesy western movie, and Lina has the exact same hair as on the 1927 red carpet.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Check Lina’s wacky pink satin lounging number with black lace top — note the high collar, that’s going to be her trademark in most every costume.

OK, back to the present-day premiere! It’s time to screen The Royal Rascal — apparently, Lockwood and Lamont are really into these period pieces.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Total mishmash of historical periods here … let’s see, medieval pageboy hair and a 16th-century doublet for him; Nordic braids, Elizabethan wired ruff, and fantasy/18th-century gown on her.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Bitches be like, “Frock Flicks is gonna rip this movie a new one.”

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Listen, you can hear the gold lamé squeak.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Well, it’s shiny, I’ll give ’em that.

After the super-popular movie screening, Don and Cosmo head out, only to have Cosmo’s car break down and Don is ravaged by screaming fans. So he jumps into a bystander’s car. Dun dun dun, it’s a plot point, folks! The driver is gonna be his real love interest.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Could Kathy be any more plain?

After Kathy pretends to disdain Don’s advances, Don arrives at the post-premiere party. The whole gang is there.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Vamp tango FTW!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Don is fangirled by the best-dressed extras on set.

The studio producer has lined up entertainment for this shin-dig. First, he demos this new-fangled technology called “talking pictures” — it’ll never catch on, hah.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Is this John Waters’ dad?

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Olga says talkies are vulgar. We goths don’t need sound to express ourselves.

Next, it’s time for a sweet treat…

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

I’ve only ever seen a girl-in-a-cake in movies — did anyone actually do that IRL?

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Kathy runs off, ensuring that Don moons over her. Meanwhile, back at Monumental Studios, entirely un-PC movies continue to be made.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Just another cliché day on the set. At least those are some nice plus-fours on Don.

Don’s feeling mopey (because being the biggest star in Hollywood is rough work), so BFF Cosmo puts himself in the hospital for four days doing the funniest song-and-dance routine ever filmed, “Make ’em Laugh.”

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

True story, Donald O’Connor worked himself sick doing this routine. THAT’S HARDCORE.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Back to work for Lockwood and Lamont — their next hysterical historical is The Dueling Cavalier, supposedly set during the French Revolution.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Ooo, look at the red heels on Don’s shoes — one historically accurate touch! Doesn’t outweigh the super-modern shape of his coat. Or her silly head necklace.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Can you count all the things wrong with these wigs?

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

These extras look like they should be in a Civil War movie, not 18th century.

Wait, stop filming! Talkies are actually a thing! Crap! Time for a wackadoodle montage:

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Obviously, the best way to shake cocktails.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Let’s sing a somewhat rape-y song surrounded by girls in bridesmaid dresses.

And for no apparent reason, the “Beautiful Girl” song morphs into a fashion show — did Walter Plunkett have extra costumes laying around? Not complaining, just wondering.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Loungewear for Aspen snow bunnies on acid.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Paul Poiret inspired opera coat trimmed in genuine Muppet fur.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Tennis for girls with balls!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Let’s go for full-on ’20s clichés with all the fringe, all the time.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Time for a swim in super matchy-matchy blues.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Flying saucer hat OR organdy ruffled cuffs, pick one, please queen.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Who decided threading the hat’s sash through the top and skirt was a good idea? WTF?

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

I’m sure Erté was the intent, but all I can think of is “I Dream of Jeanie.”

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

What is up with all the red hosiery? Also, is that a man in drag? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

1920s Hooker Barbie.

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High-class serial killer fashion for the 1940s.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

This movie is predictive of 1960s wedding fashions more than looking back at the 1920s.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Is this a 1950s gay man’s idea of what straight men want? I mean, it’s essentially a guy surrounded by high-fashion models, even tho’ it’s poncy and pretentious as hell.

After the drugs wear off, Don finds Kathy, and they meet cute for the most unsubtle first date ever.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Is this how movie stars get laid?

Hey, get a room — we’ve got a movie to make here, folks! Squeaky Lina needs to learn how to talk real good, and Don and Cosmo need another dance number, stat.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

This is the classiest outfit Lina gets; pity we only see the top half. Also, check out those gloves!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)

LIPS! (That’s a Rocky Horror reference, for the three of you out there on my wavelength.)

Now that we know how to speak most excellent well, it’s time to re-film The Dueling Cavalier as a taking picture.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Sewing the microphone onto the bodice — oh this will make the dress look SO much better.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Sewing the microphone on the shoulder — I’m not convinced either.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Well, at least we know there’s a lot of petticoats under there.

If you think the advance screening of this flick is going to be good, then you’re as dumb as Lina.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

She wears her sunglasses at night (or inside).

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

It’s the extras that get me here — wacky outfits and skirt-hiking, they never go out of style.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Seriously, Lina’s coat and hat are awesome. She may be a dimwit, but some of her costumes…

After this flop, Don, Cosmo, and Kathy go home to commiserate and think up another dance routine or two.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Kathy’s sporty little dress is cute and rather historically accurate, but she’s in mousy colors for most of the movie.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Debbie Reynolds’ feet bled after this routine. HARDCORE.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

For as integral as Cosmo is to this movie, he gets zilch for costumes — except for this tie.

And time for the titular song-and-dance routine. While it’s good, “Singin’ in the Rain” isn’t my fave. This is just a nice little song and an amusing dance. I much prefer the faster, complicated routines like “Good Morning” or “Moses Supposes.” Yes, I’m a heathen, so sue me.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

I’m amused by the stores he walks by during the song — like this dress shop.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

A smoke shop with this giant pinup graphic (which is more ’50s than ’20s IMO).

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

And finally a hat shop! I like this neighborhood.

OK, here’s a conundrum — why is Don’ walking through these streets in the rain? The scene starts with him kissing Kathy good-bye as she leaves what appeared to be HIS mansion. Before the “Good Morning” song, he says he’ll have to sell the whole thing once the shitty version of The Dueling Cavalier is released. Why did he walk out in the rain after Kathy? Where is he going? Is that really Cosmo’s mansion? What is going on in this movie? What does it all mean?

Anyway, now we’re going to record Kathy singing and Lina lip-syncing, and the movie-within-the-movie is going to be called The Dancing Cavalier, whoo-hoo!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

And finally Kathy gets a cute dress!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Lookit the cute green accents!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

And Lina looks rather subdued in camel and navy, just a touch of beading, and a smart hat.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Lina still has her trademark stand-up collar.

And here’s where the movie goes TOTALLY off the rails with Gene Kelly’s 15 minutes of dancing masturbation. Sure, fine, it’s his movie, he can do what he wants. But I don’t have to like it. I freakin’ love musicals, but I want the pretense of a story. The “Broadway Melody” bit doesn’t make sense in any context. But Gene’s just gotta dance.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

It’s a cartoon version of the 1920s.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

You do you, Gene.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Enter, Cyd Charisse, Vamp.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Obviously, he wants her.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

But first, he has to make his name on Broadway!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Finally, he hits up a posh party where…

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

It’s apparently Vamp Cyd’s wedding. Um, OK.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

And he has a ballet dream sequence about the bride. (Did someone spike his drink?)

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Annnnnnd Vamp Cyd goes off with her gangster boyfriend. /End Scene

Whew, now that’s over, back to the rest of the movie. Kathy is recording, Don is being all romantic, and Lina is about to throw a tantrum.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Another sad little dress for Kathy. Guess Plunkett wanted to draw a contrast between her and Lina.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Not that Lina’s outfit here is spectacular. But Zelda the fink looks faaaabulous in stripey green and yellow.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Lina’s gloves are divine with a double layer of scallops. Seriously, Plunkett did an amazing job on her accessories.

Lina may be dumb, but she ain’t stupid. She’ll blackmail the studio to get her way.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Again, great gloves!

At last, it’s the premiere of The Dancing Cavalier (which, if we ever saw the full length of that movie-within-a-movie, the plot would be utterly redic, but whatev).

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Heh, you can see his modern undershirt through his costume shirt.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

And Lina comes full circle with the same old hairstyle as she had at the very first scene in the movie.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Kathy’s dress is such a 1950s prom gown.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

It’s the chicken dance!

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Let’s humiliate the one we love!

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

That’s so meta.


What’s your favorite costume in Singin’ in the Rain? What’s your favorite song?


42 Responses

  1. LoGirLoo

    Just before “Singin in the Rain” Don was dropping Kathy off at HER place. His car is idling by the curb and he waves his driver off so he can walk home. Because he’s so in love, and all.

  2. Broughps

    The irony of this movie is they dubbed Debbie Reynolds’ voice for the singing.

    Still one of my all time favorite movies.

    • Karlie

      Only in the “Would You” and “Lucky Star” as she didn’t have the range and quality needed. She did sing the rest :) Extra irony: the ghost singer dubbing her is the actress playing Lina Lamont!

      • Broughps

        Who did the dubbing voice I didn’t know. Yeah talk about irony.

  3. Susan snare

    So were dream ballets de rigeur in the 50’s? Love the Kelly/O’Connor stuff like all right-thinking people, but I’m so glad to read a review of the whole dream sequence that accords it the proper lack of respect. Since I can’t resist a huge frock, all of the costumes in the Dancing Caveliers are my faves despite the period confusion. Thanks for a great lunch time read.

    • MoHub

      I think it’s more of a Gene Kelly ego-trip thing. He also has it in An American in Paris and The Pirate.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        Totally an ego-trip — he had to squeeze as much of him dancing into every movie as possible, whether or not it made sense to the plot.

        • Anna Kate

          It definitely is an ego-trip. However, the whole sequence is saved for me by a single line right after it’s over. There’s been this huge elaborate dance number that has gone on 15 minutes too long, and it has that gigantic cinematic ending. Then it cuts back to reality and R.F says: “I can’t quite visualize it. I’d have to see it on film.” I grew up watching that movie, and I only noticed that line a few years ago. It gets me every time!

      • Janeheiress

        If it weren’t for the electric Cyd Charisse, I could take or leave the sequence in Singin’ in the Rain–does it have anything to do with the movie at all? But the ballet is easily my favorite part of An American in Paris! Apparently the only reason the studio execs greenlighted it was because Gene showed them the Red Shoes ballet over and over until they caved (and The Red Shoes would make a fabulous post like this, if you haven’t done it already). It may have been ego, but Gene Kelly’s fantasy sequences are miles better than similar scenes in other musicals like, say, Oklahoma.

    • ktkittentoes

      I realize this is 3 years later, but yes. Dream Ballets were integral. I don’t know why. I assume drugs. It wasn’t just Gene Kelly. Flower Drum Song, Oklahoma…
      Always utterly annoying if you like plot and narrative.

  4. Karen K.

    ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME, now with extra snark from Frock Flicks!! It’s like Christmas in July!!!

    And “Loungewear for Aspen snow bunnies on acid” — LOL!!!! I love the fashion show, though it has NOTHING to do with the plot (nor does the fantasy ballet at the end — it’s just an excuse to look at Cyd Charisse’s amazing legs.

    By far, the best musical bit is Moses Supposes. Best line: “She’s so refined, I think I’ll kill myself” tied with “Why, I make more money than — than –Calvin Coolidge! Put together!” Jean Hagen was BRILLIANT.

    I think the best costume has to be the one with the monkey fur. Or Lina’s outfit at the very end, it’s tough.

  5. Kendra

    “Can you count all the things wrong with these wigs?”

    Yes, yes I can.

    And, I love this movie! “Aynd I caynt staynd him!!”

  6. Susan Pola

    Re wigs: Yes, I can. But I love the movie. I always wanted Cosmo & Kathy to end up together. They had more in common.

    I know Plunkett is one of the effing costume gods of Hollywood, after all he did GWTW, but the costumes here ran the gammet from meh to acid-induced horrors (Fashion show). I thought during one of the gifs, you were going to undercut the Time Warp from Rocky Horror.

    Didn’t know they dubbed Ms Reynolds. Sacrilegious studio heads.

    I wondered if the faux 18th century Lina Lamont costumes were used in Norma Shearer’s Marie Antoinette as background shots or refurbished?

    Will you be reviewing Unsinkable Molly Brown?

  7. Bea

    I ADORE “Good Morning”
    I saw this film years after being an O’Connor fan (I saw all the Francis the Talking Mule films as a kid). It was wonderful to see O’Connor in color and singing and dancing.
    Now, IF ONLY he and Danny Kaye had done a film together…

      • Susan Pola

        Same here. Mr O’Connor was IMHO more talented than Mr Kelly. I would love to see him paired with Mr Kaye, who again IMHO was a genius. ‘The pellet…’

  8. Sarcasm-hime

    It was A Thing to have a fashion show in the middle of the movie back then; I’ve seen lots of them. I guess there was no easy way for ordinary people to see fashion shows, so…?

    Also, I strongly suspect that this movie is to blame for the prevalence of chainette fringe ‘flapper’ dresses. I have never once seen an actual 1920s dress made of entirely fringe (strips of fabric like Cyd’s wearing, yes, but ALL fringe?) and the earliest I’ve seen an all-fringe dress is the ones on all the background dancers in the fantasy ballet sequence here.

    This is one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s ridiculous and the costumes are even more so*, but the jokes are hilarious and Jean Hagen cracks me up every time.

    *(but then almost all ‘period’ costumes in old Hollywood movies are hilariously wrong. Hell, modern movies. Don’t get me started on beachy waves and forehead necklaces!)

  9. Emily Barry

    I love this movie so much!!! It just makes me happy.
    “While lounging in her boudoir,
    this Simple, Plain pajama!
    Her suit is trimmed with monkey fur!
    to lend a dash of drama!”
    At the beginning red carpet scene, I believe Zelda is described as “It Girl,” a la Clara Bow.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Zelda is definitely the “Zip Girl” (I listened to it a few times & Wikipedia even notes it) — it’s mocking reference to Bow as “It Girl” tho!

      • hsc

        I’m surprised you didn’t note that Zelda is played by Rita Moreno.

        Also, the radio hostess is Madge Blake, who played Bruce Wayne’s (or was it Dick Grayson’s) fussy Aunt Harriet on the ’60s “Batman” series.

  10. hsc

    “I’ve only ever seen a girl-in-a-cake in movies — did anyone actually do that IRL?”

    Yep. It came out of the tradition of presenting “surprise” dishes at ancient feasts (“Fellini: Satyricon” presents a good example), going on to incorporate live animals and birds inside food items. (The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” immortalizes this practice.)

    According to Wikipedia, “in 1626, the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham presented King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria with a pie from which sprang the dwarf Jeffrey Hudson, in a suit of armor.”

    By the turn of the 20th century, the practice of a girl in the dish got started; from Wikipedia:

    “Stanford White put on a dinner on May 20, 1895 that included a scantily-clad girl, Susie Johnson, emerging from a pie made from galvanized iron, accompanied by a recitation of “Sing a Song of Sixpence”.

    “A few months later, the “Pie Girl” having disappeared, The World [tabloid of the day] ran a lurid expose of the episode that emphasized the prominence of the guests, who included Nikola Tesla and Charles Dana Gibson, and the scandalous nature of White’s affairs.

    “White himself was eventually murdered by Harry Thaw, the husband of White’s former lover, Evelyn Nesbit [which formed a section of E. L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime”]. The episode became “a sign for the decadence of art and high society.”

    “By the 1950s, women popping out of cakes was common at male-only parties in the United States. It eventually became common for showgirls to pop out of cakes for celebratory occasions.”


  11. Maggie

    Thank you for this! I have to credit this movie and GWTW for first inspiring my love of costume when I was a kid. I just adored the fashion show and Lena’s outfits.

  12. Adina

    Honestly, I never expected this movie to be completely accurate, but I watched it for the musical numbers. I still crack up watching make ’em laugh, and I’ve seen it many times.

    But I think Singin’ In the Rain is a good example of a period movie telling you more about what was attractive during the time it was made(50s), than about the time it’s set in.

  13. ladylavinia1932

    And for no apparent reason, the “Beautiful Girl” song morphs into a fashion show — did Walter Plunkett have extra costumes laying around? Not complaining, just wondering.

    Planting a fashion show in the middle of a movie was a lot more common than you think . . . especially in the pre-WWII movies. Have you ever seen 1939’s “THE WOMEN”?

    Was Donald O’Connor more talented than Gene Kelly? No, I don’t think so. I think their dancing styles were a little different. But I’ve always believed that on screen, Kelly worked better with O’Connor than he did with Fred Astaire.

    Although I would never regard the “Singin in the Rain” number as technically dazzling (neither did Kelly for that matter), there is something about it – on an emotional level – that is magic for me.

    I don’t really care for the “Broadway Melody” ballet that much, but there are aspects of it that I really love – especially Kelly’s first dance number with Cyd Charisse. In the words of Joe E. Brown . . . “Zoowieee!”.

  14. ladylavinia1932

    Zelda is definitely the “Zip Girl” (I listened to it a few times & Wikipedia even notes it) — it’s mocking reference to Bow as “It Girl” tho!

    Zelda was portrayed by actress Rita Moreno.

    • Adina

      I knew her from West Side Story, and I didn’t realize that was her till my 4th time watching…my mom made fun of me.

  15. Alden

    The Zip girl and the Goth were meant to reference silent era actresses Bow (as noted) and Goth girl was Theda Bara who had same slightly goth vibe. As for the costumes they’re definitely through a 50s filter but consider that this was like Mad men –hardly a generation away, everyone alive could recall the era pictured! So I bet I could find you a Vogue or Sears illustration of every outfit you see–each one is quite recognizable to me as a very 20s treatment, really! Lastly–love this movie for so many lines…”whaddaya think I am, dumb er Somethin?” is only one not yet quoted…

  16. NPHooks

    I’m so happy to see this get the FF treatment!

    Just one note, though? You don’t have to say “un-PC” when what you mean is “racist”. It’s a movie made in the ’50s about Hollywood in the ’20s, it’d be kind of shocking if there WASN’T anything racist in it, to be honest.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Well, it’s more than just ‘racist’ — the fake African movie is a culturally imperialist cliche too. There’s A LOT wrong going on in that scene, & this particular post is meant as a flippant light-hearted review. We have others where we go into more detail.

      • NPHooks

        Wow, I was rereading this in honor of the Debbie Reynolds article and I didn’t see you had responded to my comment months ago. Sorry!

        As someone for whom racism affects on a damn near everyday basis (it’s generally pretty hard to hide the fact I’m a Black woman from people), I call “racism” where I see racism, in no small part because I hate the term “political correctness”. “Political correctness” is a reactionary term favored by bigots to silence oppression and resistance to oppression, which is why people like a certain President-Elect can say “I’m not politically correct!” and have it go over great with a distressing portion of the population in a way that saying “I’m racist!” would probably not.

        Also, cultural imperialism is a form of racism in most cases, so I’d say it still stands.

        Your mileage may vary, et cetera. Merely my Black thoughts.

  17. Nit-Picking Badger

    I always Olga Mara was meant to be Pola Negri, but yes, love the vamp look. This is a favourite ‘comfort’ film, always cheers me up.

  18. Susan Pola

    I thought so too, Nit-Picking Badger. The only thing that they could have done to hit the audience over the head with it was to have Olga Mara drape herself over something, say a coffin, and ask the photographer if he got the picture (Negro did at Valentino’s funeral).

  19. Donna

    Just watched Deep in My Heart … the bio-pic of Sigmund Romberg. As a bio-pic of a composer, it is full of musical numbers. Half way through Anne Miller has a great song and dance bit … and the other women in this sequence are all wearing dresses from Singing in the Rain … most of the fashion show outfits, Zelda’s silver, black and white fringed number from the movie premier, the sequined spider dress also from the movie premier (IMDB says Julie Newmar is wearing it) and the fabulous green dress (much less fabulous when not filled by Cyd Charisse).
    This movie also has my new favorite Cyd Charisse dress … it is a masterpiece of draping.

    • Minicarmen

      Wow – that dress is somethin’ else. I’ve never heard of the movie “Deep in My Heart” but now I have to go and check it out. Thank you for posting this.

  20. Sweet Sue

    You don’t like the Broadway Melody in Singin’ In The Rain???????????????
    You’re either a Philistine, a man or both.

  21. Flora

    The pinup is probably either done by or in the style of 1920’s artist John Herd, Jr. His work was a hoot.

  22. Kari Ronning

    I love how Don and Cosmo”s vaudeville number morphs as they rise through the entertainment world, ending in a stately Ziegfield Follies number with Don in white tie and tails.