Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Isaac “Ike” Evans, tough and shrewd hotel owner
Miami Beach, January 1959
Series: Magic City
Episodes: “The Year of the Fin” (Episode 1.01), “Castles Made of Sand” (Episode 1.03), & “Crossroads” (Episode 2.04)
Air Dates: March 30, 2012 (Episode 1.01), April 20, 2012 (Episode 1.03), & July 12, 2013 (Episode 2.04)
Directors: Carl Franklin (Episode 1.01) & Ed Bianchi (Episode 1.03 & 2.04)
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
For two seasons, Magic City presented the abundantly stylish saga of the Evans family and the Miramar Playa, telling a compelling story beneath the elegant late ’50s aesthetic of long-finned cars, sharp-suited men and tightly-dressed bombshells, and ubiquitous cocktails and cigarettes.
Superficially, Magic City has been lumped in with many other shows that followed in Mad Men‘s wake with darkness underlying Jet Age glamour. However, the show was a long-time passion project for Mitch Glazer, who tapped into his early life growing up in Miami and working as a cabana boy in one of its many resorts during the ’50s and ’60s. He heard stories from his father, a hotel engineer, about the secretive drama unfolding among the guests and staff, all bathed in the dichotomous sunlight for which Miami Beach is famous. After realizing that he had far more material than a single movie would serve justly, Glazer developed his concept into a series for Starz with astounding mob tales from his journalistic background adding to the story.
Drawing upon his own family’s connection to hotels of the era, Glazer wrote Magic City as a very family-centric story with the pragmatic patriarch Isaac “Ike” Evans at the helm of the swanky Miramar Playa hotel in Miami Beach. Widowed and remarried to the glamorous ex-dancer Vera (Olga Kurylenko), Ike must manage his three kids, his ex-wife’s sophisticated sister, and the volatile mobster that serves as his silent partner.
We first meet Ike Evans on New Year’s Eve 1958, a date well-known (especially to fans of The Godfather Part II) as the day that Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and made things very difficult for the Mafia. Ike isn’t necessarily a gangster, but he’s got “friends” like Bel Jaffe and Ben Diamond who aren’t afraid to do any dirty work… providing that there’s money in it for them. Beset by union problems that threaten the future of the Miramar Playa (as well as the possibility of Sinatra performing at that evening’s New Year’s Eve party!), Ike is forced to request a favor of Faustian proportions.
What’d He Wear?
After Magic City ended its run in 2013, many costumes, props, and other items from the show were auctioned. One lucky fan, Eric Tidd, took over as Ike Evans’ spiritual successor in charge of the Miramar Playa and now proudly owns Ike’s cream dinner jacket ensemble – arguably the show’s most iconic outfit among its male characters – among many other cool costumes, accessories, and props. Eric was generous enough to share photos and details of the outfit with me for use on this site.
Ike Evans’ cream-colored single-breasted dinner jacket was custom tailored for the production by Dennis Kim from a design by costumer Carol Ramsey, who recalled in an interview with the Los Angeles Times her hard work of dressing more than 600 people for the production every nine days:
We would look at various aspects of each suit that we liked, such as the width of the shoulder from this one, the sleeve or lapel of that one.
Eric owns some of Ramsey’s copy of episode scripts; one page confirms that this formal jacket was one of the Dennis Kim-tailored pieces. Elements of the jacket include front darts, roped sleveeheads, and a welted breast pocket that Ike wears without a display kerchief. It closes with a single button in the front and has three buttons spaced apart on each cuff.
Although he runs one of the flashiest hotels in one of America’s flashiest city, Ike balances his businesslike mentality with the sharp cunning required to run such a swanky, gangster-laden establishment. His dinner jacket reflects that balance, with fashionable details like super slim shawl lapels (with a slanted buttonhole on the left lapel) and padded shoulders that emphasize his power. The jacket’s long fit also evokes the era’s trend of sweeping elegance.
The jacket also incorporates features more commonly seen on business suits like hip pocket flaps and a single vent. Typically, these aspects would not be welcome on formalwear, but the automatically implied informality of an off white-dinner jacket combined with Ike’s practicality (as well as the incredible research that Ramsey and her team conducted on the era’s fashions!) provide reasonable explanations in this case.
An additional dose of informality is injected into the outfit with the black wool flat front trousers that Ike wears with it. Made by Theory, the trousers have side pockets, jetted back pockets that close with a button, plain-hemmed bottoms, and… belt loops. Actual formal trousers – recognizable by the satin side stripe that also isn’t present on Ike’s trousers – are almost always made with a fitted or adjustable waist meant to be worn without a belt.
According to the eBay auction page from November 2013, the trousers have a 33-inch waist and 29-inch inseam, although this seems considerably short for the 6’2″ Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Theory still offers similar pants on its page, including the slim-straight fit “Italian Wool Suit Pant” for $225. However, if you’re looking for something to wear with a dinner jacket while still sporting an Ike Evans-approved brand, Theory sells a wool twill “Marlo P Tuxedo Pant in Hamburg” for $285 that includes the same pocket structure as Ike’s trousers with the more formal waistband and side striping.
Speaking of Ike-approved brands, the formal shirt is from the appropriately-named Ike Behar. The white cotton twill shirt has a spread collar, a pleated front with ¼” pleats on each side of the placket, and rear side darts. The shirt buttons at the collar and below the waist with white plastic buttons, but the placket is reserved for the gold-filled white pearl studs that Ike wears.
Not immediately evident on screen, Eric noted to me that the shirt cuffs have barrel cuffs designed to take links, more reminiscent of a rental’s “convertible cuffs” than most bespoke formal shirts which feature French cuffs. In her Times interview, Carol Ramsey mentions the issue of “how to deal with French cuffs on the slim sleeved shirts of the time.” It’s possible that the production’s solution was single cuffs, which would combat the added fabric at the cuffs in Miami’s warm climate. Ike’s cuff links are flat white pearl discs with gold links, nicely matching the studs on the front of his shirt.
NB: The Cuban-American shirtmaker Isaac “Ike” Behar launched his brand in New York in 1960, and the company is still going strong more than 50 years later under the management of Behar’s three sons while Behar concerns current work with supporting Miami Jewish Health Systems, interestingly paralleling Magic City and the plight of its similarly-named protagonist. (Although Behar has been widely recognized for his humanitarian efforts… likely not a recognition that would go to someone who partners with Ben Diamond.) Ike Behar’s site currently offers a 100% cotton “Spread Pleated Tuxedo Shirt” for $245.
Eric identified Ike’s black satin adjustable pointed-end bow tie as a vintage Brooks Brothers item. Proving that true style is timeless, Brooks Brothers still offers a pointed-end self-tie bow tie, crafted from black English silk, for $60.
Ike covers his waist with a black polyester cummerbund that clasps in the back with an adjustable black strap through a silver-toned metal clips that Eric describes as “worn”, possibly indicating yet another true vintage item in Ike’s wardrobe. Apropos the garment’s general reputation as a “crumb catcher”, Ike correctly wears his cummerbund with the pleats opening toward the top.
All of the above items were included in the auction that Eric won. The fact that the shoes and socks – which aren’t seen very clearly in these scenes – weren’t included in the bundle tells me that:
a) The shoes are likely the same black patent leather horsebit loafers that Ike wears with all of his suits throughout the first season.
b) There is likely no major demand for screen-worn socks, and that’s probably a good thing.
Ike appears to be wearing his 18-karat white gold Longines diamond-studded wristwatch which was appraised at $2,800 and auctioned in February 2014. The silver index dial rests under sapphire crystal and is surrounded by a bezel of 44 round single-cut diamonds. The black leather strap is described in the auction as “I.W. SUISSE black genuine lizard”.
Ike’s only accessory is the silver wedding band he wears on the third finger of his left hand, a refreshing symbol of one of the few faithfully-married male protagonists seen in recent period drama TV.
Go Big or Go Home
Compared to the most recent string of male anti-hero protagonists, Ike Evans is the best example of a focused family man. He remains faithful to his wife despite the certainty that a weaker-willed character (looking at you, Don Draper) would indulge himself in the vivacious temptations that surround him, excused by the era’s norms. Devoted to his wife, his two sons, and his young daughter, Ike’s vast ambition and business savvy are a means to an end; for him, this end is a secure life for his family. Ike’s compassion extends beyond his nuclear family to admiration for his deceased wife’s sister, Meg, and many of the staff at the Miramar Playa.
Unfortunately, Ike is forced to make a string of risky decisions to ensure that dream and his association with the brutal gangster Ben “the Butcher” Diamond signifies the Faustian consequences that even a shrewd businessman like Ike can’t foresee. Ike’s impulsively protective nature often places him and other things he values in harm’s way for the short-term protection of another; to protect Judi Silver, a loyal Miramar Playa call girl, he confronts and kills* a devious mob hitman. Judi’s life is saved for now, but Ike’s world – and thus the world of his hotel and his family – will be turned upside down.
* or, at least, “creates the perfect circumstances for the death of”
Despite his more altruistic nature, Ike would still superficially fit in well with the chain-smoking, hard-drinking boys’ club of shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. A product of his times, Ike is never seen without a smoke in his hand – whether it’s one of his filtered Kool Menthol cigarettes or a fat cigar – lit by his trusty silver Zippo lighter.
The impetus for Ike’s definitive actions in the pilot episode is Frank Sinatra’s pending performance at New Year’s Eve party that could make or break the future of the Miramar Playa. Frank would’ve been at the top of his game at the time, nearly at the end of his seven-year recording contract with Capitol that is defined by its unprecedented streak of artistic revival as Sinatra crooned hit after hit on his then-innovative notion of concept albums. New Year’s 1959 would fall right between the release of Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely and Come Dance with Me!, two of his most popular albums that included Sinatra standards like “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” and “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads”, respectively.
Indeed, Sinatra had the world on a string by 1959, making Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s “I’ve Got the World on a String” an apt selection for Sinatra to croon to Ike and his guests while ringing in the new year.
Unfortunately, Ike’s world is on a string too, and the string is about to get snipped.
Ike’s preferred drink of choice is Scotch on the rocks, although he brings New Year’s Eve to a crescendo by tipping back some Grand Marnier in the Atlantis Lounge with his son Stevie.
Grand Marnier – and its iconic bottle – is well-known to imbibers as a delicious and versatile digestif that can be sipped neat, used to enhance a mixed drink, or even used as part of a dessert recipe. The French are most fond of this latter practice with popular flambé dishes like Crêpes Suzette making good use of this cordial.
Created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored liqueur made from a blend of Cognac brandy and sugar with its distinctive flavor coming from the distilled essence of bitter orange. Although several variants have been developed since then, the most commonly seen is the original Cordon Rouge (“Red Ribbon”).
Ike Evans doesn’t stand on ceremony, and when he gets dressed up for a Sinatra concert, he does so on his terms… just as Ol’ Blue Eyes would appreciate it. He breaks a few rules of formalwear with the details of the jacket, the standard trousers, and his more casual loafers, but he remains comfortable and confident – two attributes far more important than being arbitrarily fashionable.
- Cream single-breasted 1-button dinner jacket with slim shawl lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, single rear vent, and 3-button cuffs
- Black wool flat front Theory trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White cotton twill Ike Behar formal shirt with spread collar, slim-pleated front, rear side darts, and single cuffs
- Black satin silk Brooks Brothers pointed-end bow tie
- Black polyester pleated cummerbund with adjustable back strap and silver metal adjuster clips
- Black patent leather horsebit loafers with silver horsebit detail
- Black dress socks
- Longines white gold wristwatch with round silver dial and diamond-studded bezel on black leather strap
- Silver wedding band
For an added touch of cool, Ike wears a pair of black acetate-framed wayfarer-style sunglasses.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the series.
Ike wears this cream dinner jacket in two first season episodes: “The Year of the Fin” (Episode 1.01) during the New Year’s Eve party and in “Castles Made of Sand” (Episode 1.03) when he interrupts his night out with Vera and Cliff to show Meg around the hotel.
Ike’s cream dinner jacket shows up again during the second season, notably during Vera’s dance performance in “Crossroads” (Episode 2.04).
I’m a lucky man.