The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) recently acquired one of Tommy Cooper’s famous fezzes, and it has just gone on display.
The fez joins the V&A’s National Collection of Performing Arts, which also includes the recently-acquired Tommy Cooper Collection – the largest collection of its kind tracing the life and legacy of the British comedian.
Legend has it that when performing in Cairo during the Second World War, Cooper mislaid his army-issue helmet and took a fez from a nearby waiter to wear for the show. The hat looked comically small on Cooper’s 6ft 3” frame and became his trademark.
The fez has been donated to the V&A by the former advertising executive, Hans van Rijs, who was given the fez by Cooper when they met in 1984 to discuss a Dutch TV commercial that he was to star in for Bassett’s Winegums.
The advertisement was never made, as Cooper died suddenly a few days after the meeting. As a comedian, his death is almost as famous as his acts, as he died on stage in front of the audience during a live TV performance in April 1984.
The famous fez, along with a selection of objects from the collection, including posters, hand-written jokes and a section of his ‘Gag File’, are now on display for the first time in the Museum’s Theatre and Performance galleries — which are on the 3rd floor of the museum.
The gallery is a dark space which shows off theatre and stage design, from costumes to stage sets, and advertising posters.
And this morning, was being used as a film set for an advert to promote this year’s pantomime season.