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  • Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 22: The Stars come out

Updated: May 26

Rather than any concentrated effort to stargaze in the research of holstory, instead there are 'stars who come out' during the search for new info. And here are some I felt were noteworthy enough at the time, to add them to my Hollywood folder. My friend Mike Wood has a similar essay here: https://revolverguy.com/photo-essay-lawmen-actors-and-gunleather/.

It's easy to lead with Marilyn Monroe because as a child, her film Some Like it Hot made a big impression on me because I didn't realize it was a comedy! Here she is from River of No Return that is notable to holstorians because she appeared in costume from its final scene, with holster maker Arvo Ojala. The image, like several in this post, is colorized and that explains her costume being in different colors; the functionality on MyHeritage did its best yet wasn't up to that particular task -- it turned gold into silver:

A mighty close second for me is from a similar era: Jane Russell in The Paleface with Bob Hope. That one I knew was a comedy! And since becoming a gunleather enthusiast it was her holster set that has fascinated me ever since. We believe it to be either by Heiser (I've floated Lawrence but they were barely in the holster biz when the film appeared) and to have been styled by a costume designer. Gorgeous:

Jerry Lewis was a part of the fast draw scene that Arvo is famous for starting up but then losing control of it to his former employees Andy Anderson and Alfonso Pineda:

Jack Palance in his most memorable role. We met at a Hollywood party and I remember him as a startlingly gracious man with startlingly yellow teeth. Along with him from the same role, Alan Ladd who was a mighty big star in that time. Both holster sets are likely Heisers, the boy's likely Keystons:



Elvis Presley appears here with Ojala's predecessor in the 'gunfighter to the stars' role, Rodd Redwing who was half Chickasaw Indian on his mother's side and half Brahman Indian on his father's. He made the original fast draws sets with metal inside them and used corset stays inserted into the narrow strips of leather that can be seen on the standalone holster image but not on the set that Elvis is buckling on:

Which brings up a worthwhile point: notice that in many of the images the 'tongue billet' of the belt is attached with lacing, to allow the set to be adjusted to the actor. Elvis' is done this way, as is Palance's; and Lewis' and his costars. The actress' holster is equipped with one of Elmer Keith's hammer straps that fit under the firing pin; lifting the hammer released the strap yet in the meantime the pistol could not fall out. Also held the firing pin off a live round there:

Sammy Davis Jr., as part of the ratpack, was a big fan of fast draw and had many Ojala sets that were custom made for him. Several of them have appeared in auctions since his death:

And I'll wind up with a holster set that will surprise you for three reasons. The first, that Dale Robertson is worth remembering but today is not in a category with, say, John Wayne. The second, that the holster maker is not a 'name' brand. The third: I include it here because it sold at auction last year (2019) by the widow . . . for U$30,000! On eBay; which doesn't command the big bucks that an auction house does:


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