Hats On

Jan Wahl

JAN WAHL, MARIN’S maven of movies, will be busy this month discussing at length the upcoming Oscar nominations on KRON-4 television, on KCBS radio and via her own newspaper column. Here’s a look at her signature toppers.



YEARS COLLECTING About 30, since I became a regular on TV, the lecture circuit and radio.

HOW MANY PIECES? Between 70 or 80 at any one time. I often give older hats away to organizations to auction off, always signing the inside. But some I keep forever.

WHY? Hats put the show in showbiz. It also takes courage to wear hats — people can think you are rather eccentric, and in my case, they are right.

FIRST PIECE I fell in love with Mae West movies when I was a child, so I would look in secondhand stores for feathered hats. But in the collection now, I think my Hollywood hat is the oldest.

FAVORITE I love the Victorian colorful hat from the Dickens Fair with the beads hanging down. It reminds me of the 1920s and ’30s, also a favorite time of mine. Great scandals. I also love the Hollywood hat. I wore it when I stage-managed an Oscar pre-show and saw Elizabeth Taylor and asked her what she thought of the Academy Awards. “Darling,” she said, throwing her fox fur around her neck. “I am the Academy Awards.” The hat represents that wonderful moment.

VALUE Priceless to me, but maybe $3,000.

HIGHEST-PRICE ITEM $400, for a custom-made captain’s hat for speaking on cruises.

LOWEST-PRICE ITEM A cap from my beloved Mill Valley Film Festival.