In silent cinema era every comedian wore a bowler-derby hat, but Buster Keaton decided to make his own. His iconic pork pie hat and its mortality fascinated us all these years. But why is it so special for Keaton?
I’ll tell you a simple recipe how Keaton made his porkpie. Yes, he made it by himself from a regular hat. He chose felt, because it wasn’t so fragile. He took a regular Stetson, which in those days cost $3.50, cut it down and stiffened the brim with sugar water. His simple recipe consisted of three heaping teaspoons of granulated sugar in a teacup of warm water. After you wet the top and bottom of brim with this specific water, you have to smooth it out on a clean and hard surface. The first hats were made by Keaton himself, but later this duty was passed to his wife.
Keaton used up a thousand of these hats, now it would cost a fortune to make them every time they are damaged. Buster was doing more and more water stunts, so felt disintegrated after that. That is why his pork pie hat had a high risk of mortality.
Keaton’s pork pie hat was like a signature of his comedic stunts. These trick their passed to Johnny Depp’s character in 1993 film ‘Benny & Joon’. It’s not easy to master those tricks, but for starters you have to make a porkpie by yourself.