I’m always surprised when I interview an actor and the subject of memorabilia comes up. Sometimes they’ll tell me about things they took from the set. More often than not, they regret that they didn’t take an outfit they wore in the movie or TV series.
I was thinking that while watching Django Unchained, since Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, and Christoph Waltz wore such interesting outfits.
I remember when talking to Barry Pearl (Barney), who played Doody in Grease, I noticed he had a jacket from when he was one of the T-Birds. He told me he asked if he could have it and they said yes. Later that day, while interviewing one of the pink ladies, I told her about the jacket. She said, “Oh yeah, I know. I remember them being strict with us about returning all the stuff, and months later I asked for a jacket. I was told no. Pearl got lucky.”
While reading the Parade section of the newspaper a few days ago, I stumbled across something interesting the Parade Personality section. A letter writer from Virginia Beach, Va. Asked Patrick Stewart if he held on to any memorabilia from Star Trek: The Next Generation?
It’s a great question. I’ve heard cast members of the original series talk about this, although I can’t remember now what any of them said about it. Perhaps that’s because I never interviewed them, it was merely watching them on a talk show.
Stewart answered: “I tried to buy one of my uniforms from the studio, but they refused to sell it to me.”
The 72-year-old, who played Captain Picard from 1987 to 1994, continued “I was on a talk show years later and the host discovered that I didn’t have anything from the series; they called Paramount, which gave me one of my uniforms. Now I have it hanging in mothballs in my closet!”
This got me thinking about other famous pieces of clothing people wore. The iconic leather jacket Henry Winkler wore in Happy Days ended up going to the Smithsonian a few years back. It’s funny to think that the TV censors wouldn’t even let Winkler wear a leather jacket the first season. How odd is that?
Penny Marshall, who starred in the spin-off Lavern & Shirley, I’m guessing has a sweater with the letter “L” on it (her trademark on the show).
My favorite story involving clothing was movie critic Gene Siskel paying $15,000 for the white suit John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever. It was at a charity auction in 1979 and it just happened to be Siskel’s all-time favorite movie. Travolta signed the interior lining “So, here’s to a classic, your friend, John Travolta.”
He kept the outfit for years, and after his death in 1995, it was sold for L93,000 (that’s more than $200,000).
I think the key for actors is to not ask. I’ve found that when I did that, it usually bit me in the butt. I remember going to interview Dennis Hopper in San Diego (he was a former San Diegan), when he was promoting a photo exhibit he did. Security was tight, and as they were checking my tape recorder and camera, they asked what one apparatus was that I was carrying. It was a weird, plastic device you place over your face while breathing in gas. I got it from a nurse, because I wanted Hopper to sign it. His creepy character in Blue Velvet was always huffing gas from it and I thought it would be a great piece to have signed. The idiotic thing was thinking it would be a good idea to explain this to security. They told me he wasn’t signing autographs and that I had to put that back in my car.