1 RingyDingy, 2 RingyDingy…operator style in the 1940s

I just wanted to share this picture with you all. A friend of mine and I were drinking at the classic bar Gaetano’s in Denver and she showed me this picture on her phone of her grandma, the lovely lady standing in the background. I love pictures of the back and sides of women so you can see all angles and really get a feel for the form of a 1940s hairstyle. If you right click on the picture you can view the image separately. It is a nice big image.

Extra points if you can identify where the title of this post came from. If you don’t know, just YouTube Lily Tomlin operator.

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  1. Actually, “One Ringy Dingy, Two Ringy Dingy…” belonged to Lily Tomlin’s character “Ernestine” from Laugh-In.

  2. Gilda! I so loved Gilda Radner, she is still one of my favorite comediennes. I walk through our office saying “one ringy-dingy…two ringy-dingy”, and there’s no one here that even knows what I am referring to anymore. Just seeing the title of your post made my day!

  3. Wait a minute…I just came back because I realized it wasn’t Gilda…wasn’t this Lily Tomlin who did the operator? Great. I’m so old I can’t remember! 🙂

  4. I think what I love about this picture is that it shows that the back of the hair didn’t have to be perfect. I always get very bummed because when I pin curl my hair I can never achieve a nice wave in the back because of the sheer amount of hair I have and the number of pin curls I need to be able to cover my whole head (I can’t figure out how to start my pin curls lower on my head). Now I don’t have to feel like I did a crummy set because my curls don’t sit just so.

  5. I sure do! Lily Tomlin!!! “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?” Holy cow! That was my first ‘real’ job at the phone company, back in 1970. And, I retired from the place!!! Some of the operators were still wearing hair and makeup like it was the 40’s and 50’s! ;D

  6. Their hair shares one big characteristic between all of them, and if you’ve already covered this thoroughly in other posts, then I do apologize. I haven’t had the time or opportunity yet to read every blog post.
    But, they not only had to be able to wear those very heavy headsets a whole shift (if you’ve never had the opportunity to wear one of those things even for just a few minutes, you’d be amazed at how much they weigh!) while not destroying their hairstyle at the same time, BUT accommodate their obligatory, ‘always worn outside in public’ HAT as well, coming in to work, and leaving it at the end of their shift. Every day!
    Since not every hat was perfectly symmetrical, then neither was that empty place at the back of their heads, surrounded by the more structured portion of their hairstyle, at least most of the time. Just about everyone has little “cowlicks” and oddly shaped or directed places in their hair growth patterns, but a good stylist was supposed to be able to find a way around that so that it didn’t show.
    Doing it yourself presents a special challenge, in that you cannot stand behind your own head, view it from above, or use your hands properly when you’re reaching back behind yourself. Even employing a mirror can be visually confusing, as everything appears backwards!
    This is a great photo of how quite a few different women also had quite a few different hairstyles, or variations on a style, especially in that it shows every one of them from behind! No, not every one of them is “picture perfect” like you’d see in the movies, where professional hairdressers are present for every shot to maintain the “every hair in place” hairstyles of the actors and actresses.

  7. Lily Tomlin’s “Ernestine” with her solid 1940’s hairstyle, and matching outfits and makeup just killed me everytime!! And that snorty little laugh she had really made that character!! “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?” just had to be Lily’s humor all over the place! I loved her character even more after I had acquired a job working part time in the evenings while in Nursing School, at the hospital where I did most of my clinicals, at the front reception desk (a paid position at the time, not volunteer) AND as the relief switchboard operator! They had JUST replaced their big three-person “spaghetti-board” with a one-person digital console! The old board was still in place, and I got to examine it “up close and personal” before it was removed. My gosh, but the new one was both more complex, but also simpler to learn at the same time! My hair at the time – 1978-79 – was a short bob, with the ends turned under, and the sides “feathered” back over the ears, with an almost center part. It worked well with both my headset for the switchboard, and my nurses cap too, once we earned them!

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Welcome to the Bobby Pin Blog! I am Lauren Rennells and as a hairstylist, makeup artist, writer, and generally artistic over-achiever, the Bobby Pin Blog is my outlet for thoughts and research about vintage hair and makeup trends and how to recreate them today. Thank you for stopping by!

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