Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stetson Celebrities (Hats and Leading Men, 1948)

 Good afternoon!

I'm a little late with my post today because I heard the siren's call of the food trucks downtown that line up on Deaderick and Fourth of a Thursday in Nashville-- and I'm telling you, I could just take a nap under my desk for how full of red curry and tofu from the Deg Thai truck I am right now. I got my little piping hot food container and went "This is enough food for at least two people", then proceeded to wolf it down at my desk like an actual pelican. There was nary a grain of rice left in that bad'd think I was starving! I'll try to be on best diet behavior this weekend, but whooo, LORD, it was some good Thai food. At at any rate, my and my overactive appetite's apologies for the belated post.

As I battle sleepiness, why not take a look at these ads I found earlier from Life magazine in the late forties'? They pull together three things I'm interested in-- celebrities, vintage fashion, and just plain weirdness. Stetson, in year of our lord 1948, decided an illustrated ad campaign of leading men in duplicate would sufficiently pique the interest of magazine readers. In my case, they certainly did! Let's look at who was chosen to hawk the hats, mirror image to mirror image:

1) Ray Milland

Well, technically, there was only one, but danged if the illustrator didn't see fit to put two in this picture, to the puzzlement of the snub-nosed blonde in the sky blue suit, the movie lot security guard, and me! Ray Milland is one of my favorite forties' and fifties' movie actors, partially because of his star turns in classic movies like Dial M for Murder and The Lost Weekend,  partially just because his late career output is completely bonkers. In the sixties' and seventies',  Milland clocks time as a) patriarch of a post-apocalyptic atomic family that includes son Frankie Avalon (!!) in Panic in the Year Zero, b) the ocularly adventurous scientist of the title X: The Man with X Ray Eyes ("I CAN STILL SEEEEE!"), and c) a head grafted onto football player Rosie Grier's body (I CANNOT MAKE THIS UP) in the deliciously schlocky The Thing With Two Heads. It would actually make good sense if there WERE two Ray Millands, the one who sparred with Ginger Rogers in The Major and the Minor, could teach a master class in foulard knotting, and who retired quietly to the French Riviera; and the one who was eye candy Ryan O'Neal's dad in Love Story (can somebody air lift the two of them out of my least favorite popular movie?) and made some puzzling career choices in his later days. I would admire both equally!

I digress. Explain what's going on with the double trouble, Stetson ad copy:

"Because being well-dressed is simple-- it's merely a matter of wearing the right clothes at the right time" is something I believe in almost as firmly as the golden rule. And if one of these Ray's would like to escort me to either a Hollywood party, or a country club, I promise to dress just as "smartly" as you could ask for me to. Just gimme a chance!
Also, did the illustrator just check out for the inset photos? Do EITHER of these look anything like Milland?
For reference:

Ummm... no. Am I wrong? At least the hats look good. Let's keep moving.

2) Alan Ladd

With the benefit of two Alan Ladds, we could have one Shane to ride off into the sunset, and one Shane to stay with Brandon de Wilde. EVERYONE'S HAPPY. I've always liked this little guy, who, in spite of his diminuitve height (5'5'' in his shoes), has one of the best tough guy swagger-and-smolders of anybody on screen at the time. He and even tinier (4'11'') Veronica Lake were plain magic in the series of detective movies they made in the forties' (Gun For Hire, The Glass Key, The Blue Dahlia, and the one mentioned in the caption here, Saigon)...two of the most natural looking actors to be in stylized movies, with performances as fresh sixty years later as they were when they hit the theaters the first time. But enough about what I think, what's going on with our "lads" here?

Isn't it interesting how his "informal" looks p-r-e-t-t-y dang formal to me...
Lacking the benefit of secret 1940's cultural clothing literacy, I'll have to just take their word for it? That Stetson Whippet is a fine looking hat. PS Did you know $10 in 1948 money is equivalent to almost $100 in today's money? This hat was an investment, kid! If it was me, I might would have to be gauche and wear the wrong hat for the wrong occasion because I only have one. What am I, Daddy Warbucks?

3) Randolph Scott

While I like Cary Grant's old beachside roommate and western star Randolph Scott pretty well, I have to tell you, I am KE-RAZY about both the car and the lady in the above "Does Randolph Scott have a twin" ad, and that's 80% of the reason I'd have included it. Look at that wide belted plaid coat! Those kelly green gloves to match the hat! That well-dressed lady should have her choice of either handsome Scott, as she looks like a million bucks! Notice that in each ad there's a little shout-out, above the illustration, to the woman's hat. In this case: "She, too, is wearing a Stetson. The Tip Top, $18.95. Other Stetson Millinery Fashions from $5.95". Figuring for inflation, a ladies' hat would cost you between $57-$181. ((eyes pop out of sockets)) WELL.

I may have improved my opinion of Randy here, as I, too would like to ride in his amazing sports coupe, go to the horse races, and attend a movie premiere. I was going to say he looked a little strange in a Stetson at a formal movie premiere, but when I tried to find refuting evidence on the internet, I saw all kinds of Hollywood types both hatted and hatless on the red carpet, so who can say? Call me, Mr. Scott, we can talk it over, over lunch.

4) Bing Crosby

Once again, the illustrator is not working very hard-- while the girl in the acid green and black hat/gloves (YE-E-E-S) and Bing #1 on the right look nice, Bing #2 looks...I don't even know, just weird! "What are you doing here?" says less-attractive-Bing to more-attractive-Bing. "Beat ya to the tarmac, son, and now I've beat you to the punch!" he says, puffing away at his pipe and taking off with the attractively attired girl in a waiting car. Poor lesser-Bing. At least he has the better outfit of the two (by a nose).

Dinner and a plane flight doesn't sound nearly as interesting as the racetrack and a movie premiere, but, hey, beggars can't be choosers. Here are the hats for each occasion (does the color dictate which is more formal? I might be learning something here...):

Moral of all these advertisements, you can:

 Anyway, how about you-- what did you think of the hats? Do you know anything about formal versus informal when it comes to head gear for the mid century man? Which movie star do you like best out of this quartet? Let's talk!

I have to get back to work-- things are crazy around here with the renovations! It's keeping this career gal on her toes, for certain. I'll be back tomorrow for Photo Friday, though-- hope you can join me for the almost-weekend and the certainly-vintage photos I'll dig up for you all! Take care, see you then.

1 comment:

  1. "Evidence of secret Hollywood cloning program revealed. News at 10."



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