Dustin Hoffman, slender superstar, earns $4 million from undergoing a sex change in his new film Tootsie, a comedy directed by Sydney Pollack for Columbia. These pictures show the slow transformation into "Dorothy Michaels".
November 28, 1982
Report: George Perry

(Cover) 102K-103-003 (we don’t have the 2nd image) Dustin Hoffman : the new woman in his life

After his Oscar-winning performance in Kramer Vs. Kramer three years ago, Dustin Hoffman hasn't exactly rushed to get back on the screen. Clearly he was waiting for a memorable part. In Tootsie, opening next month in the United States, he seems to have found it.

He plays a 39-year-old New York actor admired by everyone inside the business but more or less totally unknown by the public, a craftsman destined for rejection--while lesser talents he has assisted are given the glamorous roles. Hoffman knows how the man feels: "I was 30 when I played the 20-year-old in The Graduate. Not exactly an overnight success." For years he had slogged away on the off-Broadway circuit, his gifts known only to a few until the big break of the lead in Mike Nichols' 1967 film came his way.

A star's face-lift as the skin is stretched and clamped.

Sound man indecorously adjusts a radio mic, hidden under the dress.

Foam padding fills out the Hoffman posterior. His foundations are laid.

Time for a poker game while the hairline is made ready for the wig.

A star has his pantyhose put on for him.

Make-up supervisor Allen Wesisinger applies lip-gloss.

Transformation into “Dorothy” complete.

In Tootsie, the frustrated actor explodes when he learns that an actress he has coached for a soap opera part is turned down before she has read a line at her interview. He goes to plead with one of the stars of the show, a former roommate who has had the breaks, only to learn that this untalented rival has gone off to appear in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway. When he berates his agent (played by the director, Sydney Pollack) as to why he wasn't sent up for the role he gets the short shrift answer: "You don't have a name!"

It's the spur for drastic action. He decides to deck himself out as a woman and to go up for the original television job himself. So Michael Dorsey becomes Dorothy Michaels. So successful is the transformation that he lands the part and attains the recognition and acclaim that have eluded him for so long. There follows a complicated double-life in which his girl friend (Terri Garr), finding women's underwear in the apartment, suspects he is a homosexual; the co-star (Jessica Lange), to whom he finds himself sexually attracted, begins to think dear Dorothy is a lesbian; and her father, a widower (Charles Durning) falls totally for her, not realising she's a him.

There have been many earlier comedies in which stars have passed themselves off as the opposite gender. The sublime Some Like It Hot called upon Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, as musicians pursued by gangsters, to take to their stilettos. But Tootsie makes the illusion complete. (Even Marilyn Monroe at her most myopic could never really have believed that Curtis and Lemmon were girls!)

"Dorothy" shares a country‑weekend bed with TV co‑star Jessica Lange.

Dustin Hoffman took 90 minutes each day to dress for the part. That was after he had his skin stretched, his eyebrows raised and pegged tight. His matronly foundation garment contained silicone "falsies" weighing four pounds and foam rubber buttock-pads. Hands and legs were carefully shaved and fake fingernails concealed his own stumps. (He is a compulsive nailbiter.) Coiffed and befrocked, he learned to walk and move like a girl.

The experience was something of an education. Being of slight stature he made a totally convincing female: "Just before filming there was a Great Ladies of the Screen retrospective showing in New York. I went night after night to watch Garbo and Crawford and absorb."

One of the funniest scenes in Tootsie was filmed at the smart Russian Tea Room on West 57th Street, where Dorothy flirts outrageously with the agent. The film crew were hard at work at the back of the restaurant while life went on as normal out front. Hoffman heard that his celebrated co-star of Midnight Cowboy, Jon Voight, was lunching there, and decided to saunter over to his table as Dorothy and say hello. The bemused Voight, aware that he knew this odd lady with the bouffant hair remained polite while he frantically tried to place her. Only when Hoffman collapsed with laughter did he realise what was going on. Alas, that is a scene that is not in Tootsie.