Thursday, April 6, 2017

Famous Hat-Wearers

OK, since I seem to be on something of a "hat roll" here, today's post is some background on "famous" hats. You know how there are some famous people (or characters) who always seem to always be wearing a particular hat or type of hat? Let's look at how some of those people came to be associated with a particular hat, or how they set a trend for a particular style of hat.

The first character that comes to mind when I think of a trademark hat is, of course, Indiana Jones, as played by Harrison Ford.
Indy rarely appears without his battered fedora. As well as being a fun little in-joke as Indy occasionally retrieves his hat in some improbable manner, the hat served the practical purpose of shading Ford's face and making it easier to swap out a stunt man or other body double during the various action sequences. It also tied in to the old B-movies that inspired the film, as it was often used for a similar purpose there. The fedora worn by Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum.

Another famed fedora-wearer is Humphrey Bogart, who sported the hat in such films as Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, and Sabrina.
Bogart not only popularized the fedora for future generations, he taught men everywhere how to wear it properly: front of the brim tilted down, tipped at a rakish angle, shading the face just slightly. He knew how to take it off properly, too, by pinching the front of the crown, and he could coolly toss it onto a desk or hatrack without even looking. Bogart made hat protocol cool.

Similar to Bogey, John Wayne made a series of movies in which he wore a series of similar hats - in Wayne's case, cowboy hats.
Among the styles Wayne sported in his movies were Stetsons, Tom Mix, cattleman, pinched front, and open crown, although his personal favorite was said to be a silverbelly hat with a pinched-front, diamond-creased crown. Hatmaker Resistol, which provided some of Wayne's hats for his movies, still carries a line of seven hats inspired by the actor.

Jacqueline Kennedy brought not only the pillbox hat into prominence in the early 1960s, but also its designer, Halston.
Halston began his design career as a hat designer, gaining fame for designing Jacqueline Kennedy's pillbox hats, which were often beautifully coordinated with her suits, and moving on to become a clothing designer as hats began to fall out of fashion. Sadly, pillbox hats in particular fell in popularity following JFK's assassination, during which Jackie Kennedy was wearing her now famous pink suit and matching pillbox hat, and the nation associated the image of the hat with the tragic event.

One of the most famous hat-wearers in current history is not known for a particular style of hat so much as hats in general: Queen Elizabeth II.

From this beautiful cartwheel hat (above, top), worn in 1954, the year after her coronation, to the small half-hats she favored throughout the 50s and 60s, to turban styles in the 70s, to more traditionally-styled straw hats and wide-brimmed hats in the 80s (as seen above, center), to the taller, slightly flared-crowned hats she has favored since the 90s, such as the sunny yellow feather-trimmed kettle-brim hat seen directly above, Queen Elizabeth rarely appears in public without a fabulous hat. The Queen's current hat designer is Rachel Trevor-Morgan, who has been designing hats for Her Majesty since 2006, and who in 2014 was "granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to her Majesty the Queen." Trevor-Morgan also designs hats for other members of the royal family. Interesting royal hat factoid: whenever a hat is part of the Queen's ensemble, her dressers provide a coordinating headscarf in case the hat gets wet or damaged in the rain. (It is England, after all.)

Another British leader who was quite fond of hats was Sir Winston Churchill, who sported many different styles over the years, but whose trademark hat was undoubtedly the homburg.
The main differences between Churchill's trademark homburg and a fedora are that the homburg lacks the "pinch" at the top front of the crown, and the stiff brim has a slightly upturned lip all the way around instead of a more gradual upturn at the back only. Churchill prided himself on being well-dressed, always wearing a well-tailored suit, often a pin-striped three-piece suit, and a nicely hand-tied bow tie. As well as the famous hat, he accessorized with a pocket watch fob and chain, elegant pocket squares, and often a small boutonniere. In addition to the homburg, Churchill was also known to sport a Cambridge (a type of top hat), a bowler, a Stetson cowboy hat, and occasionally the odd fireman's helmet or pith helmet. In the words of his son, Randolph, "My father never met a hat he didn't like."

One celebrity who is famous for a hat that she really only wore that one time is Mary Tyler Moore, who is well known for tossing her hat into the air during the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Although often referred to as a beret, Mary's iconic bright blue striped knitted hat is actually a tam, based on its fuller crown and the adorable little pom-pom at the top (see yesterday's blog entry for the definition of both hat styles). Although the opening sequence was slightly changed every season, they always ended with that same hat toss clip, freezing on Mary's beaming face with the hat in mid-air. Ever since Mary's exuberant toss, people have been recreating that moment on the streets of Minneapolis near the Nicollet Mall, where the original sequence was filmed. The bit has been parodied dozens, perhaps hundreds of times since, but one of the funniest was in the closing credits of the spinoff, Rhoda, in which Rhoda attempts to recreate the hat toss on the streets of New York City, but drops her hat.

Perhaps the creepiest trademark hat ever is the bowler (or derby, in American terms) worn by Malcolm McDowell as the sociopathic Alex DeLarge in the film A Clockwork Orange.
Who can forget this publicity shot of Alex peering up ominously from under the brim of the hat? The gentlemanly formality and genteel civility of the elegant hat, which formed part of the "uniform" of the ultra-violent teenage "droogs," created a chilling contrast to their cruel and inhuman behavior.

A much more light-hearted example of a strong contrast between the formality of a hat and the style of the famous wearer is the case of Harpo Marx.
The silent member of the Marx brothers, along with older brother Groucho and younger brother Chico, Harpo's trademark was his mop of blond curls topped by an elegant top hat worn at a rakish tilt. The remainder of his outfit was usually a rumpled trench coat with oversized pockets, a loud print shirt, and a necktie. This was appropriate for his clownish character, as circus clowns during that time period often paired oversized, mismatched clothes with formal hats, including top hats. Fun fact: the curly wig Harpo wore under the hat was actually pink (as shown in colored movie posters), but read as blonde on black and white film.

One of the most well-known literary characters to be associated with a specific (and somewhat unusual) type of hat is Sherlock Holmes and his deerstalker.

From Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett to Benedict Cumberbatch, nearly ever actor ever to portray Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. being perhaps the most notable exception) has chosen to sport Holmes' iconic deerstalker at one point or another. Interestingly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never described Holmes as wearing a deerstalker in any of his stories; however, in 1891, Sidney Paget illustrated one of Doyle's stories for The Strand Magazine and gave Holmes not only his deerstalker, but the Inverness cape, and that image has stuck with the Sherlock Holmes stories ever since.

Another notable hat-wearing character which has been played by multiple actors, is Dr. Who. Each incarnation wears a unique ensemble, but Matt Smith's Doctor is known for pairing his tweed jacket with a red bowtie and a distinctive fez.
The Eleventh Doctor does not actually wear a fez in every episode in which he appears. but he did sport one on three or four occasions, in one instance proclaiming happily, "I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool." A fez is a Moroccan headdress with a cylindrical shape and no brim, usually red and often with a black tassel at the top. It is named after the former capital city of Morocco, and was used as a symbol of learning and wisdom. It has been adopted by a number of modern fraternal organizations, most notably the Shriners and the Elks.

Other famous hat wearers:
Crocodile Dundee (film character played by actor Paul Hogan) - Australian cattleman hat (ornamented with crocodile teeth)

Pharrell Williams (singer/songwriter) - a style by designed Vivienne Westwood called "Buffalo Girls (Nostalgia of Mud)"

Slash (lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses) - top hat

Carmen Miranda (singer) - fruit-adorned turban

Abraham Lincoln (U.S. President) - stovepipe hat (top hat)

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