Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head (pictured), who died in 1981, will come to life again – and will be dishing the Hollywood dirt – at the West End’s Arts Theatre in A Conversation With Edith Head, running from 31 July to 30 August 2008 (previews from 29 July).

Based on the book Edith Head's Hollywood by Head and Paddy Calistro, the play offers a behind-the-scenes feast of great movie legends. In her six decades of costume design, Head worked on 1,131 motion pictures, dressed the greatest stars of Hollywood, received 35 Academy Award nominations and won an unprecedented eight Oscars.

Of her 60-plus years in the business, 44 were spent at Paramount Studios, where Head worked with actors from Mae West and Clara Bow to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. When Paramount failed to renew her contract in 1967, Alfred Hitchcock stepped in and Head was invited to join Universal Studios. Her eight Oscars were for The Heiress, Samson & Delilah, All About Eve, A Place in the Sun, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, The Facts of Life and The Sting. Shed died in October 1981, still under contract to Universal Studios, having just completed working on the Steve Martin film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

A Conversation With Edith Head is written by and stars Susan Claassen, who was inspired after watching a TV biography of Head. The actress commented: "Not only do I bear a striking resemblance to Edith, but we share the same love for clothes and fashion." Claassen is managing artistic director of the Invisible Theatre of Tucson, Arizona, where she’s produced more than 335 productions and directed more than 50.

- by Terri Paddock