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Anthony Gasbarri, 77; Made Suits Prized by Many Hollywood Stars

September 05, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Anthony Gasbarri, 77, a custom tailor whose exquisitely crafted suits were prized by many Hollywood stars, died of a heart attack Saturday while working at his Vine Street shop.

Gasbarri made suit jackets out of a single piece of fabric, eliminating the center seam in back. To further enhance his body-flattering garments, he hand-cut the fabric using a 1932 anatomy treatise, complete with skeletal diagrams, as his guide.

The result was more a work of art than a piece of clothing. Legendary film actress Mary Pickford once sent Gasbarri a bottle of Dom Perignon by limousine to thank him for the suits he had made for her husband, Charles "Buddy" Rogers.

Other clients included Red Skelton, Kirk Douglas, Merv Griffin, Lee Majors and Steve McQueen. Many of their autographed portraits line the walls of his musty Hollywood salon next to a pawn shop.

Gasbarri became a tailor's apprentice at age 8 in his hometown of Pacentro, Italy.

After World War II, he finished his training in Rome, where he began his career by making suits for American diplomats. Those diplomats later helped him to emigrate to America in 1958.

He initially set up shop in Georgetown during the Eisenhower administration.

Then he moved to California, where he opened his own business in Hollywood in 1961 after a few years working on Rodeo Drive for tailor Albert Mariani.

His suits sold for $2,000 and up. "I feel like Cary Grant in Gasbarri's suits," actor David Starzyk told The Times a few years ago.

"They don't make them like this anymore."

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