Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann, intuitive hotel head chef
Silver Creek, Colorado, Fall 1979
Film: The Shining
Release Date: May 23, 1980
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
To honor the late Scatman Crothers, who was born 112 years ago today on May 23, 1910, today’s post explores his memorable role as Dick Hallorann, the head chef at the mysterious Overlook Hotel in The Shining. (Coincidentally, The Shining was released 42 years ago today on Crothers’ 70th birthday!)
On the last day of the Overlook’s season, Dick presents himself to the newcomer Torrance family and is assigned by hotel manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) to provide a tour of the hotel’s vast kitchen. Dick shows an interest in nicknames, first establishing with Mrs. Torrance (Shelley Duvall) that she’s neither a Winnie nor a Freddie but a Wendy (“the prettiest,” he adds), while intuiting via his shine that the young Danny (Danny Lloyd) has been nicknamed “Doc” by his parents.
When Ullman comes to collect Wendy for the rest of a tour with her husband Jack (Jack Nicholson), Dick sits Danny down for a bowl of ice cream… and a discussion of their shared telepathic abilities.
What’d He Wear?
Stephen King described Dick Hallorann wearing a blue serge suit, but costume designer Milena Canonero expressed a little more fun with Dick’s wardrobe that aligned with Scatman Crothers’ colorful characterization. On paper, Dick’s cinematic costume of a navy blazer, gray trousers, and sport shirt may not sound like a radical departure from the conservative suit mentioned in the text, but the fashion-minded on-screen execution illustrates how a blue blazer and slacks can look anything but conventional.
Dick’s outfit is anchored by a fashionable dark navy blazer that appears to be made of doeskin, a cloth described by Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits as “a densely napped woolen flannel with a sheen (not the skin from a female deer),” which would make the blazer appropriately suitable for the cooler climate of late October in Colorado. Consistent with 1970s trends, the blazer has a long single vent and fashionably wide lapels that are finished with swelled edges echoing the blazer’s sporting origins.
Blazers are often characterized by their metal buttons, and Dick’s two-button blazer is no exception, though it differs from the traditional crested shank buttons with its flat matte brass buttons detailed with a small center hole similar to “donut”-style rivet buttons often used on denim clothing. Each sleeve is finished with two smaller versions of these buttons at the cuff. Dick dresses his welted breast pocket with a printed light blue pocket square, and this pocket as well as the flaps covering the patch pockets over the hips are detailed with swelled edges.
By the late 1970s, navy blazers and slacks would have been acceptable business dress in certain American industries, but Dick makes certain to signal that he’s dressing for the end of his work season—and the start of a months-long vacation—by pairing these pieces with a printed open-neck sports shirt.
Dick’s sky-blue polyester shirt is printed all over with an irregular series of white, black, blue, and red lines in varying lengths and thickness, often arranged in gradient stacks. The shirt’s informality is communicated by its sporty “Lido” collar, a standard of 20th century leisurewear describing a one-piece collar that seamlessly tapers down to the front of this shirt, most often a plain front with no placket. Dick’s long-sleeved shirt buttons up the front with blue plastic buttons that match those which fasten the rounded barrel cuffs.
Navy blazers are frequently paired with khaki or gray trousers, so Dick hedges his bets by wearing a pair of flat front slacks in a pale yet warm shade of stone-gray. Dick keeps his blazer buttoned and his hands out of his pockets, so we can see little of the trousers aside from the fact that he doesn’t wear a belt to hold them up and that the plain-hemmed bottoms are flared, in keeping with the fashions of the “disco decade”.
The trousers’ flared bottoms break over Dick’s smooth tan leather shoes, which are given a little boost off the ground by the thick light brown rubber soles that are thankfully just a few centimeters shy to qualify as platform shoes, which were in the midst of their most prominent popularity and would have found a place in the closet of a hip guy like Dick Hallorann. The derby-laced shoes have squared moc-toes.
Though no mention is made of Dick’s wife, he does appear to wear a gold wedding ring on his left hand.
Dick Hallorann in Doctor Sleep
In Mike Flanagan’s 2019 film Doctor Sleep, adapted from Stephen King’s continuation novel of the same name, returns to the character of Dick Hallorann, now portrayed by Carl Lumbly. Part of the adaptation focuses on Dick meeting the young Danny (Roger Dale Floyd) and introducing the concept of capturing the Overlook’s ghosts in lockboxes.
Costume designer Terry Anderson effectively paid tribute to the attire worn by Scatman Crother in The Shining, dressing Lumbly in a wide-lapeled navy blazer, light-colored khakis, and even the chunky tan moc-toe casual shoes. The pièce de résistance is arguably recreating Dick’s shirt which—while not exactly identical to what we saw in The Shining—retains the spirit of the original with its unique lined print against the sky-blue ground.
How to Get the Look
Some ’70s fads are best left in the back of our dads’ closets, but the inimitable Scatman Crothers brings together the then-trending fashions of wide blazer lapels, boldly printed polyester shirts, flared trousers, and quasi-platform shoes with a tasteful panache befitting the affable Dick Hallorann’s personality.
- Navy doeskin flannel single-breasted blazer with swelled-edge notch lapels, two brass buttons, welted breast pocket, flapped patch hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Sky-blue gradient line-patterned polyester long-sleeve sport shirt with flat Lido collar, plain front, and rounded barrel cuffs
- Pale stone-gray flat front trousers with flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Tan smooth leather derby-laced casual shoes with moc-toes and thick rubber soles
- Gold wedding ring
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Well, you know, Doc, when something happens, it can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kind of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who shine can see. Just like they can see things that haven’t happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years… and not all of ’em was good.