The Indiana Jones Jacket: Temple of Doom
The Temple of Doom Jacket
Both Lucasfilm and Steven Spielberg learned some hard lessons from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Lucasfilm learned the importance of solidifying their position on licensing—not only from “Raiders,” but also following several iterations of Star Wars experience. Spielberg learned that he needed a more attentive and hands-on wardrobe designer. When it came to the jacket to be worn by Harrison Ford and his stunt doubles in “Temple of Doom,” licensing and wardrobe design lessons-learned made for a story with a few interesting twists.
The first order of business was the selection of Anthony Powell as the Wardrobe Designer for “Temple of Doom.” Powell was responsible for all wardrobe used in the production. He had experience working with Berman and Nathans directly—something which Deborah Nadoolman did not. For “Temple of Doom”, as well as for all subsequent projects, the ownership of all designs would reside with Lucasfilm via Paramount to the degree specific ownership could be extended. Legally, this varied by the type of design, but the bottom line was the situation during “Raiders” would not be repeated.
While the above allowed Lucasfilm control over the proliferation of their intellectual property, it also resulted in some limitations on Powell’s creative hand. Namely, Lucasfilm licensed the jacket before production began. Part of that license included product placement. As a result, the design was effectively given to the license holder and not the wardrobe designer. While several companies were approached, one had some limited experience with the design—Cooper.
Neal Cooper previously claimed to have submitted prototype jackets to Deborah Nadoolman for “Raiders.” While this could not be substantiated in any way beyond anecdotal recollections by David Hack, the design used by Cooper exhibited a remarkably detailed knowledge of the jacket design at the time Deborah Nadoolman left Los Angeles and before Peter Botwright created his final design. Cooper's design was virtually identical to the cloth “Raiders” mock-up made by Western Costumes (WC). The Cooper design had the short bi-swing pleat opening, smaller pockets, and slightly lower shoulder yoke design of the WC mock-up. This mock-up was, at the time of preproduction on “Temple of Doom,” in the property of Berman and Nathans along with unused jackets from “Raiders.” While no documentation or other corroboration could be obtained to prove Cooper’s claims of involvement in “Raiders,” this similarity to the mock-up implies some knowledge of its specific design. Whether that knowledge happened during “Raiders” preproduction or sometime after could not be proven either way. Regardless, Cooper bought the license rights to the jacket with funding from Hack. Ford was fitted by Cooper several months before preproduction began and jackets were prepared.
Now for some interesting twists on some old stories. Noel Howard consistently stated that to the best of his knowledge, the “Temple of Doom” jackets were supplied by a French company. He was also always very clear that he did not know the name of the company, but that he knew for a fact that Peter Botwright had nothing to do with supplying jackets for “Temple of Doom.” Through researching the product placement rights, it was determined that they were arranged via a well established product placement and promotions company in Los Angeles. Confidentiality does not allow naming them, but they are the second oldest firm and a little digging is all that is needed to figure it out.
In interviewing a long-time member of this firm it was disclosed that the product placements were administered by what was a predecessor of Latham Watkins. This law firm had offices in Paris that handled enforcement of engagements for its clients in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) fell within its definition of Africa. As such, a small team of French lawyers actually delivered both Cooper jackets and Stetson fedoras to the production company in Sri Lanka. The lead attorney was a man named Charles Dunard. He was interviewed and confirmed his involvement, however would not discuss any contractual details. Through another source, however, a representative of IndyGear was given access to, and reviewed copies of the original license contracts signed by both Cooper and Stetson for “Temple of Doom.” With respect to the Cooper contract, it stated that all existing jackets from the first production would be replaced with the Cooper jackets. A stipulation which reportedly resulted from the “negative experience” from “Raiders” required that not only that the existing jackets be confiscated, but that the contract administrators also provide certificates of destruction on all seized items. That means “shredded and incinerated.”
As a result, all but five original Raiders jackets have been lost. Those that survived? The first “hero” jacket resides in George Lucas’ office at Skywalker Ranch. Vic Armstrong and Terry Leonard have their copies from the third order placed with Leather Concessionaires. Two other jackets made their way to Paramount – one was Martin Grace’s jacket from the third order (the Hawaiian “hero” jacket) and the other was a jacket in marginal condition that had Leonard’s name written in its lining. Reportedly, this last jacket had been pulled aside in order to fit a Wilson’s jacket for Leonard to wear during the truck dragging gag in Tunisia. The Grace jacket and the “marginal” Leonard jacket (presumably the only surviving jacket from the second order placed with Leather Concessionaires) were auctioned for charity in 1984 by Butterfields in Los Angeles. Grace’s jacket is the property of an active movie and television producer and would be one of two jackets used as the basis of Tony Nowak’s “Indy 1” reproduction. (More on Tony Nowak in the Crystal Skull write up.) The jacket with Leonard’s name in the lining was located and examined in August of 2000 and was the basis for the Flight Suits Expedition as well as having contributed to the ultimate specifications for Todd Coyle’s designs in 2007.
Back to the Cooper's jackets delivered to Sri Lanka for “Temple of Doom.” Powell was not given the opportunity to make real design changes to these jackets. This would inspire him to change his terms for the production of “Last Crusade” five years later, however he had some more basic issues with “Temple of Doom” jackets. First he did not care for the oversized brass zippers with the pulls on “the wrong side.” Initially, Powell reported not to have noticed the right-handed pulls, but his assistant Joanna Johnston claims both she and Powell noticed it right off. The zips were removed and replaced with smaller, left-handed nickel zips. Next, the d-rings would not hold the side straps. Johnston’s solution was to use 1” equestrian headcollar buckles (military-style with double-roller spikes rather than prongs) that she knows were obtained from Abbey Saddlery.
Powell had another problem once Ford arrived on set. The jackets were too big. During the time that had elapsed between Ford’s fitting by Cooper and the beginning of production, Ford had lost between 8 to 12 pounds. Additionally, the jackets were lined with a heavy nylon weave that was inappropriate to the shooting location and which Ford reportedly hated. Powell attempted a solution that while unique, didn’t quite work out the way he planned. Powell’s team created a lining from cotton that did fit Ford and sewed them into 3 of the marginally larger shells. While these appeared to fit better, the armholes were too tight for Ford and he refused to wear them. As a result, Ford can be seen wearing either a Cooper (loose fitting with uncomfortable nylon lining) or Vic Armstrong’s “Raiders” jacket (tight, trim fit).
Cooper claimed they provided a dozen, however incomplete (but likely more reliable) Lucasfilm documentation suggests the number was eight. Reportedly, two were ruined as part of the ad hoc fitting process using the sized lining and another was ruined during experiments as to how to age the jackets. Of the remaining five, one was in the possession of the late Noel Howard and was a gift from Powell. This jacket still has the nylon lining. One of the remaining four was loaned to Planet Hollywood and was never returned to Lucasfilm. The final three are reportedly still residing in the Lucasfilm archives.
Addendum: Following the passing of Noel Howard, claims have been made that the “Temple of Doom” jackets were made in-house at Berman and Nathans. The claim seems to have originated from two former employees of Howard. This claim was examined as well as interviews with newly identified sources. No factual supporting evidence could be found. Inferentially, the claim is troublesome in that Howard was the man who would have known and he would have had no reason not to be truthful. His reputation in life was that he was truthful. The fact that the claim comes after his passing is disturbing. During his life, Howard was very candid and objective about who did what and when. Thus IndyGear confidently states that Cooper made the "Temple" jackets.
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