Levi’s® Jeans – From the Bunkhouse to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

John Wayne in "Stagecoach"

Since their inception, Levi’s® jeans have been a favorite of Prospectors and Ranchers. But, how did they crossover to Hollywood and to become a symbol of romance, adventure, and independence?  The hot movie ticket in the 1930’s was the Western.  Cowboys wore blue jeans and Levi Strauss & Co. was quick to make sure that art imitated life by turning their advertising campaigns towards this trend.  From John Wayne to James Dean to the celebrities of the 21st century, Levi Strauss & Co. remains a shinning star on the walk of fame.

One of my favorite celebrity stories is about Bing Crosby.  Find the complete story on the LS& Co. website.

Bing was a huge fan of Levi’s® jeans and jackets, which we were pretty proud of at the time. In 1951, Bing was in Canada on a hunting trip with a friend, and one night they decided to stay in a Vancouver hotel. Both men were dressed completely in denim (Levi’s® denim, in Bing’s case) and the desk clerk didn’t recognize the famous crooner. But that wasn’t the worst of it. This clerk did not feel that men who wore denim were appropriate guests for his establishment and refused to rent them rooms. (Eventually, the bellboy recognized Bing and the chagrined manager gave him and his friend a room.)

Back home on his ranch in Elko, Nevada, Bing told his neighbors about his experience in Canada, and they contacted us, because they thought we should know what had happened to Bing. Imagine the outrage when our company managers heard about this!

Soon after, a few of our designers put their heads together and created a denim tuxedo jacket for Bing. It was made of the sturdy denim used for 501® jeans, and decorated with a lovely corsage of red Tabs, held onto the lapel with a cluster of shiny copper rivets. Inside the jacket was a huge leather patch printed with a “Notice to All Hotel Men” stating that denim is a perfectly appropriate fabric and anyone wearing it should be allowed entrance into the finest hotels.

Bing Crosby "banging the skins" in Levi’s® products from head to toe

Bing Crosby Denim Jacket custom made by LS&Co.

And, how about these Hollywood Classics.

James Dean, in "Giant"

Marlon Brando in "The Wild One"

As shown in this letter, even the most famous have a word or two to say about Levi’s® products. Additional letters from Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan can be seen on the Levi Strauss & Co. website at Letters to Levi’s®.

Letter from Gary Grant

I would like to give special thanks to “The Selvedge Yard” for providing me with some of the pictures and captions in this blog.  Check out his post to learn more. The History of Denim through the Ages/Western Wear goes Hollywood.


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