A pork pie hat or porkpie hat is a type of hat made of felt or, less commonly, straw. It is somewhat similar to a trilby or a fedora, but like the boater it has a flat top. The crown is short and has an indentation all the way around, instead of the pinch crown typically seen on fedoras and homburgs. The pork pie hat originated in the mid 19th century. Originally referring to a type of woman’s hat, it gets its name from its resemblance to a pork pie.
The pork pie hat was a staple of the British man-about-town style for many years. Commonly worn by American Civil War soldiers and the US Army (unofficially) through the 1880s. Pork pie hats are often associated with jazz, blues and ska musicians and fans. Charles Mingus wrote an elegy for jazz saxophone great Lester Young called "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat". Many artists have performed this tune, including Jeff Beck, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Derek Sherinian, and Joni Mitchell. In Jamaica, the hat was popularized by the 1960s rude boy subculture, which traveled to the United Kingdom and influenced the mod and skinhead subcultures (although Jamaican and British pork pie hats are more similar to a very short-brimmed trilby rather than the US style). Jamaican ska artist Laurel Aitken performed the song "Give Me Back My Pork Pie Hat".
Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist known as the father of the atomic bomb frequently wore a pork pie hat. Singer Dean Martin was known to be partial to pork pie hats, and they became a trademark of the silent film comedian Buster Keaton who handmade his own. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was often seen wearing a pork pie hat with a cape and cane. The hat was prevalent in New Guinea in January 1944, when Australian troops had just defeated a Japanese stronghold at Kankiryo Saddle.
The pork pie hat had a resurgence in popularity after Gene Hackman’s character Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle wore one in The French Connection, a film released in 1971.
Bryan Cranston's character Walter White wears a porkpie hat in the AMC series Breaking Bad. White also goes by the alias "Heisenberg" whose persona is associated with the hat.
The animated Hanna-Barbera characters Top Cat, Huckleberry Hound, Hokey Wolf and Yogi Bear are all wearing porkpie hats. Fozzie Bear from The Muppets wears a pork pie hat.
Joaquín Monserrat, known as Pacheco in Puerto Rico as the host of many children's TV shows, is best known for his porkpie hat and bow tie.
The term is also used in reference to brimless hats worn by sailors of the United Kingdom and other nations. This hat is typically round, flat on top and wider at the crown. This type of hat is also known as a "square rig".
Clete Purcel, a recurring character in author James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series, is frequently described as wearing a pork pie hat.
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