If you were to conjure an image of typical 1950s fashion, there’s no doubt the visual would be brimming with knee-length skirts and shoulder covering tops.
It was an era, like most before it, of conservative clothing.
The bikini had been invented only a handful of years before, and society was still grappling with the fact hem lines were creeping towards the knee.
And then Vikki Dougan came along.
While actress Veronica Lake is typically assumed to be the muse behind Jessica Rabbit, it was the lesser-known and near-forgotten Vicki Dougan along with her notorious derrrière that really put Jessica on the map. Pin-up girl turned (struggling) actress, Vicki earned herself the nickname, “The Back” in 1950s Hollywood for so often wearing her outrageously provocative backless dresses.
In 1957, the Oakland Tribune wrote a piece about how Dougan’s style, and subsequent rise to prominence, was part of a carefully crafted image created for her by publicity man Milton Weiss.
Initially, he decided to have three backless dresses made for her. He then gave his client the nickname “The Back”, and had her wearing a backless creation in almost all of her public appearances.
His first move was to have three expensive dresses made for her — without backs. He then titled his client “The Back” and had her appear at previews and parties in her plunging creations. Soon local photographers zeroed in on Miss Dougan’s bare spinal column, and gagsters began originating such cracks as, “Vikki Dougan makes the best exits in town.”
Finally Vikki was banned from someone else’s preview party because her backless formal was drawing too much attention. The incident received proper press coverage. Today Vikkie — born Edith Tooker in Brooklyn — is riding toward fame on the strength of her clothes, what there is of them. It’s a trend, all right.
Dougan’s fame would take flight, and she would score roles in various films, photo spreads in prominent magazines such as LIFE as these candid photographs were taken by Ralph Crane in 1957.
According to Messy Nessy Chic, America had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Vikki and her backside however, and she was often mocked in gossip columns. By 1959, Dougan and her derrière had pretty much disappeared from the Hollywood scene, unable to find work. The daring pin-up girl was forgotten along with so many other names trying to make it in showbiz, until Disney/Touchstone made a little film in 1988 called Who Framed Roger Rabbit? While Dougan received very little recognition as a Jessica Rabbit muse, her trademark style and sex appeal became iconic.