Brea Old and New: The go-to source for "All things Brea"!

Sparkle & Glitz – Bessie the Brea Beader

4 weeks ago by in ( BBON , City Guide , Culture/Arts , News , Old/New , Schools , Uncategorized , Welcome to Brea , Who's Who )
Brea

    I wonder how many local people remember former Brea resident Bessie Nelson (known to many as the Brea Beader), who gave glitz to so many entertainment and political stars?

      Bessie Nelson, known to many as Bessie the Brea Beader, gives glitz to many entertainment and political stars. She is shown with daughter Bessie.(Courtesy of Vita Zol)


        Bessie’s talented touch added the gleam of rhinestones, sequins, bugle beads and more to Michael Jackson’s glove, Neil Diamond’s jackets, Liberace’s capes, Joan Rivers’ blouses and Cher’s evening dresses, not to mention Nancy Reagan’s and Hillary Clinton’s inaugural ball gowns.

          We remember one year when Bessie’s daughter, also known as Bessie, was involved in Brea Olinda High School’s dance production program and her mom volunteered to hand bead costumes for all the girls – at the same time she was running back and forth to Hollywood doing beading for top designers! Bessie moved to New Jersey several years ago to be closer to family, and once word got out, Broadway came calling. She did beading for shows from “Dreamgirls” and “Sunset Boulevard” to “Miss Saigon,” “Wicked” and “The Boy From Oz,” but her biggest project of all was embellishing 31 costumes for the national tour of “A Chorus Line.”

            Now 86 years young, Bessie keeps her needle busy, recently beading dresses for Bette Midler and her understudies for the Broadway production of “Hello Dolly!” and adding glam to the outfits of all the Radio City Rockettes for a Chase Bank TV commercial. She’s currently working on costumes for “Frozen,” which is expected to open on Broadway next spring.

              In a world filled with labor-saving devices, beading is one thing that still must be done by hand, one tiny piece at a time. Bessie, who learned the art from her aunt at the age of 9, said she is sad that, even though demand remains high, beading seems to be a dying art. “They haven’t found a way yet for a machine to do it,” she laughed. Which is fine, as long as folks like Bessie the Brea Beader are still there to keep people in stitches.

                Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle (714)529-8561..or email her at suzgaede@aol.com.
Author :

"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded independent contractor. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting wholeheartedly the City of Brea --a charming town with character & innovation, turning 100 years old in 2017!

  • Carolyn Campbell

Leave a Reply