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Gown Worn By Legendary Actress Now On Display(Monday, July 25, 2016) - In its 124 year history, DeMoulin Bros & Co. has manufactured outfits for famous entertainers like cowboy movie star Tom Mix, lion tamer Mabel Stark, and singer CeeLo Green. The DeMoulin Museum has recently obtained a doctoral gown made for Ruby Dee, one of the most respected actresses and humanitarians in show business history.
Dee, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2007's American Gangster, was a Grammy, Emmy, and Obie award winner. She was also a National Medal of Arts, Kennedy Center Honors and Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award recipient. Among her other famous films were The Jackie Robinson Story, A Raisin in the Sun, and Do the Right Thing. In 1969, she was a regular on the TV show Peyton Place. She was married to Ossie Davis, with whom she often worked, until his death in 2005.
The robe was purchased at Ms. Dee's estate sale by a woman who then sold it to the DeMoulin Museum. Prior to agreeing to the purchase, the museum did extensive homework verifying the gown's authenticity.
“We've been able to document four occasions when Ruby Dee wore this gown while receiving special honors,” explained John Goldsmith, DeMoulin Museum curator. “The first was in 1982 when she received an honorary degree from Howard University. The others were in 1991 from Spelman College, 2009 from Princeton University and 2011 from Dartmouth. Three photos have been located showing her in the gown.”
Goldsmith said he believes the gown was manufactured by DeMoulin in 1976. The actress's name was embroidered on the inside. The remaining mystery is why the robe was originally made for her?
From the 1920s until 1982, the DeMoulin factory had a very successful cap and gown and choir robe division. The Ruby Dee doctoral gown, which will be featured in a permanent display, is a highlight from this era in the company's history.
Click to enlarge photos!
DeMoulin Museum volunteers Gina Lewis (l) and Esther Henry (r) prepare Ruby Dee's doctoral gown for display.
The DeMoulin manufacturing label inside the gown with Ms. Dee's name embroidered below it.
“There are no words to explain how excited we are to have this artifact on display. Ruby Dee was a giant in show business but more importantly a legendary figure in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. I'm thrilled that this lady's life intersected with DeMoulin Bros. & Co.”
Overview of Museum
Founded in 1892 as a manufacturer of lodge paraphernalia and regalia, DeMoulin Bros. & Co. of Greenville, Illinois is one of the nation's leading makers of marching band uniforms. The company's diverse production history has included graduation caps and gowns, choir robes, church and lodge furniture, and lodge initiation devices.
The DeMoulin Museum, founded in 2010, pays tribute to the founders, employees, and amazing products created by this unique factory. Though the museum contains examples of many of DeMoulin's creations, the lodge initiation devices---including the Bucking Goat; Invisible Paddle Machine; and Lifting and Spraying Machine---are what have attracted visitors from over 30 states.
June through August:
Fri: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Sun: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
September through May:
Sat: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Admission by donation.
Group tours welcome.
110 W. Main, Greenville, IL, 62246
One block east of the Greenville square.
Help support the DeMoulin Museum!
The DeMoulin Museum is supported by a not-for-profit organization through the Bond County Community Foundation. Although endorsed by DeMoulin Bros. & Co., the DeMoulin Museum is not operated by the factory. Your donation is important to maintaining the museum.