Bill Pullman as Lone Starr, cynical “hero for hire”
“Once upon a time warp… in a galaxy very, very, very, very far away…”
Release Date: June 24, 1987
Director: Mel Brooks
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Spaceballs was my first exposure to Mel Brooks, having appealed to my being a Star Wars fan through my childhood. Of course, as I was nine years old the first time I watched Spaceballs, many of the meta humor and more mature-minded jokes went straight over my head, but I still thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. More than two decades later, it’s still a fun watch, as this peerless master of modern comedy riffs on far more than just what had been my favorite sci-fi franchise.
Continuing the Star Wars parallels, Spaceballs merges Han Solo’s persona with Luke Skywalker’s folklore into one character, the swaggering space cowboy Lone Starr (Bill Pullman), traversing the galaxy in his Winnebago spaceship with his loyal half-canine sidekick Barf (John Candy).
The duo are recruited by the desperate King Roland of Druidia (Dick Van Patten) to save his daughter Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) and her gilt droid-of-honor Dot Matrix (Joan Rivers) from the clutches of the evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis), who also turns out to be Lone Starr’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. The adventure becomes a life-changing journey for Lone Starr as he learns how to harness the mysterious power of “the Schwartz”.
Though it was released to mixed reviews in the summer of 1987—even receiving Worst Picture during the 1987 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards—Spaceballs has risen to cult status and remains one of Brooks’ best-known movies, with regular showings at local theaters to this day. Based on the fact that I’ve received recent requests to cover Lone Starr’s costume, I’m delighted to see that there are Spaceballs fans among my BAMF Style readers!
What’d He Wear?
Consistent with Spaceballs‘ overall mise en scène, prolific costume designer Donfeld foregoes constructing out-of-this-world apparel for the everyman Lone Starr and instead seemingly finds inspiration from another contemporary Harrison Ford character, dressing Lone Starr in a leather flight jacket, button-up shirt, khakis, and boots that recall Indiana Jones‘ adventurous garb.
Captain Lone Starr is introduced wearing a brown felt cowboy hat with a pinched cattleman’s-style crown, dramatically curled brim, and tonal woven band. He wears it only while dozing off in the Winnebago’s cockpit during his introductory scene, but it effectively serves to visually communicate his cowboy-like nature as well as crafting yet another sartorial parallel to Dr. Jones as his hat is a similar color—if not style—as Indy’s iconic fedora.
Lone Starr’s hero jacket resembles a civilian-market flight jacket inspired by the iconic A-2 model made famous by American military aviators during World War II.
Made from a soft brown leather that has been worn to a significant patina, Lone Starr’s jacket generally follows the zip-up blouson design of the A-2, from the snap-down shirt-style collar and the fixed epaulets (shoulder straps) to the large patch-style pockets over the hips. Like the A-2, these pockets are covered with pointed flaps that close with a concealed snap, though they each have set-in hand pocket accessed from vertical openings toward the back which differ from the military A-2 design.
A narrow storm flap covers the straight vertical front zip for wind protection, with a gunmetal-finished snap to close at the waist. The ribbed knitting on the cuffs and hem are an olive-tinted wool.
Lone Starr’s checked shirt continues the Western themes of his outfit, specifically via the white-piped yokes that curve down from his armholes and vertically extend down each side of the front of his shirt. The cotton flannel shirting itself is a blue-on-ecru mini-gingham check. (In some shots, the color appears to be more green than blue, but set photography and most angles show it closer to a dark blue.)
The long-sleeved shirt has a point collar, button cuffs, and front placket that Lone Starr always wears with at least the top three of the brown mixed plastic buttons undone, showing his beige cotton three-button henley-style undershirt.
Lone Starr wears light khaki cotton flat-front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, a button-through back-right pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms. He holds them up with a tan leather belt that closes through a steel Western-shaped single-prong belt buckle.
Lone Starr’s space cowboy style continues with his cowboy boots, styled with distinctive raised heels and sandy beige napped leather uppers that coordinate with his light khaki trousers.
On a chain-link necklace around his neck, Lone Starr wears a tarnished and hammered gunmetal token inscribed with five rows of mysterious text that few can translate. Lone Starr has worn the necklace since the time he was delivered to the monastery “somewhere in the Ford Galaxy” but he never knew what it meant until showing it to Yogurt, who reveals that the pendant is a royal birth certificate… making him an appropriate partner, should he happen to fall in love with a princess.
Yogurt gives Lone Starr a hefty gold ring to control his Schwartz. Nearly an inch-and-a-half long, the three-tiered brass ring is filled with black resin at each level, including the ovular top surface that’s painted black save for a gilt “S” studded with 12 diamond-like gems that seemingly power the lightsaber-like sword.
“You have the ring! And I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Now let’s see how well you handle it,” challenges Dark Helmet after he spies the light emanating from the ring on Lone Starr’s right index finger.
Bill Pullman’s screen-worn pendant and ring were included in a 2023 Propstore Auction.
How to Get the Look
Whether you’re looking for a simple Halloween getup (which would likely pair well if you have a friend more elaborately costumed as Barf) or a stealthy sartorial tribute to a cult comedy classic, Lone Starr’s rugged leather jacket, checked shirt, khakis, and boots have aged hardily in the nearly 40 years since Spaceballs was released.
- Brown leather A2-inspired civilian flight jacket with snap-down shirt-style collar, fixed epaulets (shoulder straps), zip-up front with narrow storm flap and waist snap, flapped patch-style pockets (with vertical-entry inset hand pockets), and olive ribbed-knit cuffs and hem
- Blue-on-ecru mini-gingham checked cotton flannel long-sleeved shirt with curved white Western-style front yokes, point collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Beige cotton henley-style undershirt with three-button top
- Light khaki cotton flat-front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, button-through back-right pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Tan leather belt with steel Western-shaped single-prong buckle
- Beige napped leather cowboy boots
- Brown felt cattleman’s-style cowboy hat with pinched crown, woven band, and curled brim
- Tarnished hammered gunmetal pendant on a gunmetal chain-link bracelet
- Brass three-tiered “Schwartz ring” with black resin-filled ridges and ovular surface with 12-diamond gilt “S”
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, and may the Schwartz be with you.
At last, we meet for the first time… for the last time.