Published Nov 2, 2019
Trelane's Jacket: From Trek to Gilligan's Island to The Monkees
How one costume jacket made the Hollywood rounds.
By Maria Jose and John Tenuto
Television viewers watching their favorite shows during January and February 1967 might have had a sense of triple déjà vu. Popular sitcoms Gilligan’s Island and The Monkees, along with Star Trek, then in the middle of its first season, all used the same, memorable costume. Star Trek fans may know it best as “General” Trelane’s cloak and jacket from "The Squire of Gothos."
The costume was not designed by William Ware Theiss, the talented designer responsible for nearly all of the costumes seen on the original Star Trek. Rather, as a time and cost saver, the exquisite costume worn by actor William Campbell in his portrayal of Trelane was rented from the Western Costume Company. The company, founded in 1912 by LL Burns, is still in business today and has designed and supplied costumes used in many of Hollywood’s most famous films, including True Grit, The Ten Commandments and Titanic. As such, there were multiple versions of the Trelane costume made used in many productions in addition to Star Trek.
During that winter of 1967, the costume was featured heavily on television shows. Star Trek was the first to use it that season, featuring both the cloak and the long jacket worn by Trelane as he fancied himself a military leader. Pioneering fans Betty Jo and John Trimble shared with Startrek.com in 2014 that William Campbell so loved playing the role of Trelane that he was given a version of the jacket purchased from the Western Costume company by a fan at Equicon one year.
Eleven days later, the cloak portion of the costume would appear again on Gilligan’s Island. In the January 23, 1967, episode “Lovey’s Secret Admirer” Mrs. Howell and her husband have a disagreement which leads her to have a dream where she is Cinderella. Dressed as a handsome prince, Thurston Howell III dons the cloak from the same costume group that was worn by Trelane. Also of note is that Gilligan’s costume for his Fairy Godfather dream role in that same episode would be reused as the costume worn by Korob, played by Theo Marcuse, about 10 months later in the Star Trek episode, “Catspaw.”
The long jacket worn by Trelane would again surface on the February 6, 1967, episode of The Monkees, also airing on NBC. The episode was “The Prince and the Paupers” whose plot was inspired by the 1881 novel The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain (who, as we all know, time travels to the 24th Century in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Time’s Arrow”!). In the episode, Davy changes places with his duplicate, the Prince Ludlow, who must marry soon to keep his title. Michael Nesmith’s character Mike and the real Prince’s butler wear the Trelane jacket, sometimes on screen together at the same time.
In future articles, we will continue to explore the re-use of TOS costumes and props on other shows, a trend that continued for many years… including the famous re-use of Colonel Green’s costume from “The Savage Curtain” as Mork’s spacesuit on Mork & Mindy. Until then, live long and prosper, and Na-nu! Na-nu!
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on the history of Star Trek, and have presented at venues such as Creation Conventions and the St. Louis Science Center. They have written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their extensive collection of Star Trek items has been featured in SFX Magazine. Their theory about the “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and research on Star Trek fans has been featured on WGN News, BBC Radio and in the documentary The Force Among Us. They recently researched all known paperwork from the making of the classic episode "Space Seed" and are excited to be sharing some previously unreported information about Khan's first adventure with fellow fans. Contact the Tenutos at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.