The Evolution of a Hat

Johnny’s Hat

I’ve watched Westerns my entire life, and one thing that I’ve noticed is that a cowboy’s hat is like a part of him. Most of them never change their hat. Now in reality, it was part of the show’s wardrobe, so maybe there were more than one of each hat – but when you get a hat that fits just right, it’s hard to change it.

Even in the non-western show Justified, Timothy Olyphant’s character Raylan Givens was known for his hat, it kind of defined him – heck he was even mocked about it. When the hat was ruined by a bullet hole in the very last episode, he changed from the stetson to a new hat, which just did not suit him – and frankly, looked a little weird.

Having a love affair with hats myself, it can be difficult to find that perfect hat. On my favorite hat I changed up bands and stampede strings, even going as far as changing the shape of the crown – but I realized that I purchased it because I liked it the first time I saw it, so I eventually went back to how it originally looked. Here is my personal collection.

The brown hat front and center is my favorite, and I pull that one out as soon as the weather cools off. I wasn’t a fan of the high round crown, but after manipulating it into various shapes I went back to the original look.

Before we get started actually digging into the Lancer hats, I want to make sure I give a great big shout out and thank you to our beloved queen of Lancer pics, Marilyn from the Johnny Madrid Lancer’s Fan Page on Facebook. Her relentless pursuit of the best screen captures have made it possible for me to find the best “hat” pics. Thank you Marilyn!

The characters and their hats

James Stacy as Johnny Madrid Lancer

So why did James Stacy, as Johnny, change his hat a couple of times until finally landing on the one that stuck for the majority of the series (and my personal favorite). We may never know if it was his choice, or just a matter of wardrobe finding one that he was comfortable in. Either way, the one that landed on his head for the remainder of the series suited the character, and fit him to perfection – although he did seem to lose his hat quite a bit. Lets take a look at the evolution of Johnny Lancer’s hats – and I’m not convinced that one of them wasn’t just modified a bit to look like a new hat. Curious what everyone else thinks.

Wayne Maunder as Scott Lancer

Wayne Maunder must have been a good sport. A couple of the hats that he wore were a little on the ridiculous side – but as Scott Lancer he pulled it off very well, and I even liked the jaunty hat that he wore before he went full on cowboy hat. A couple of other things that I noticed, as I pored over countless pictures in an attempt to get a good sampling, is that Scott doesn’t wear a hat consistently through the episodes. He is more often hat-less. He also tends to wear his pushed back on his head quite a bit, which made it difficult to see if the styles had changed even more than I note below. It’s hard to see the crown of a hat when it’s pushed back on the head. But I think I got a pretty good representation. Let’s take a look at Scott’s hats.

Andrew Duggan as Murdoch Lancer

As Murdoch Lancer, Andrew Duggan brought a style that is pure cattleman, big and bold. And his hats were no different – you need a big hat for such a tall man.

Elizabeth Bauer as Teresa O’Brien

Poor Teresa never gets to wear a cowboy hat, and that’s a damn shame because she was raised on Lancer and should have been given the opportunity to show that side of her. But maybe it was the choice of the actress, I mean she did have great hair – and it would be criminal to mess up those lovely tresses. She did wear a couple of hats, though, as seen below.

Paul Brinegar as Jelly Hoskins

Now I know Jelly isn’t actually a Lancer, but I thought it would be nice to include him. Jelly does not wear a typical cowboy hat, but instead prefers a small cap; however there are a couple instances where he did change it up for a scene or 2. And of course there is the time he swapped with Scott in the episode “Cut the Wolf Loose”.

And just for fun – a quick clip of Johnny where he mentions a hat….

There are some great resources on the internet to learn about hats worn in the West, and so many online shops to buy a great hat. I found one place really interesting. They have re-created the hats worn in popular movies and even a few current TV shows. Check it out: https://thelastbestwest.com/western-store/cowboy-hats/

cowboy hat styles

Every hat basically starts out as a “Boss of the Plains”, and using only steam, you can manipulate the crown and the brim into the various shapes you see here. Brims can be trimmed to suit the shape of the hat; and bands can be added for some flair. Hats will “learn” to fit the owner’s head, but can be re-shaped if needed. There are a lot of great YouTube videos on how to shape a cowboy hat, and I learned a great deal while doing this research.

So what do you think? Do you find it strange that there were quite a few hats switched up; or do you think some of the same hats were used, just modified over time to suit the actor once they were fully immersed in the character? These are some of the small things that I’m always looking at, and when I see things changed up I try to find out who made the decision and why. I certainly hope the actors had some say in the hats that were stuck on their heads for a great deal of the time. Like so many other odds and ends, we’ll just have to put this in the pile of “we’ll never know”.

Thanks for indulging me in this little side project all about hats.

Lots of Lancer Love,

Linda