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The Man Who Fell to Earth: David Bowie’s Table Tennis Whites

David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)


David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, ambitious humanoid alien

New Mexico, Summer 1975

Film: The Man Who Fell to Earth
Release Date: March 18, 1976
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Costume Designer: May Routh

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


Today is World Table Tennis Day! For nearly a decade since it was established, WTTD had been celebrated on April 6 until the ITTF Foundation announced that it would be moved this year to April 23, to mark the birthday of Ivor Montagu, founder of the International Table Tennis Federation who organized the first World Table Tennis Championships in 1926. History buffs may also recognize his name as Ivor Montagu was also recruited by Soviet intelligence during World War II, at the same time that his older brother Ewen Montagu was developing the famous Operation Mincemeat on behalf of British intelligence.

Among the many movies that feature table tennis—or ping-pong, if you prefer its onomatopoeiac nomenclature—is The Man Who Fell to Earth, Nicolas Roeg’s surreal science fiction drama based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel of the same name. David Bowie stars as the titular Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid alien subject to an isolated life in government captivity. Continue reading