Chapter 13. Characteristic accessories

Coonskin hat

American frontiersmen borrowed the coonskin hat idea from Native Americans and used them for hunting. Davy Crockett wore them, and a hundred years later American companies imitated and marketed them to young American boys.

Hitler’s moustache

If you wished to portray Hitler, all you would need is his rectangular toothbrush moustache; however, you wouldn’t likely wish to portray him.

Chaplin’s cane

The Tramp’s bamboo cane evokes pathos because it properly belongs to a higher class of person. The cane, the bowler hat and coat that were too small, the baggy pants too big, and his penguin-like strut, combined, show the incongruity of the character, plus it gave the Tramp something to flourish.

Keaton’s pork pie hat

Buster Keaton made his own, and went through a thousand of them. It could hardly stay on his head so he often filmed himself picking it up and dusting it off.

Sherlock’s pipe

Sherlock Holmes’ calabash pipe is part of his myth, amplified by many adaptions for stage, television, and film, and it’s part of his character, created to show his obsessive introspective absorption and drug dependence.

Freud’s cigar

Sigismund was born with a caul, which, according to his mother, destined him for greatness. Siggy learned a lot from Shakespeare, had a thing for his mother, and despised his father. For someone with a certain fetish, the cigar, particularly if it’s always lit, is perfect.

Ahab’s peg leg

Ahab made his peg leg out of whale bone as a reminder of his manhood and of the source of his indignity and anger.

Jolly Roger

If a ship approached yours sailing in the Caribbean around 1725, and it showed a black flag with skull and crossbones, you probably felt unsafe in your bones.

Mr. Peanut’s monocle

Mr. Peanut’s top hat, monocle, cane, and spats make him a class act.