Over the English summer, Victoria and Albert museum acquired the extensive Tommy Cooper Collection, an archive celebrating the life of a much loved British comedian. And, now the museum has been gifted one of the Cooper’s iconic fezzes by former advertising executive, Hans van Rijs, who was given the hat by Cooper in 1984 when they met to discuss a Dutch TV commercial for Bassett’s Winegums. The advertisement was never made, when Cooper died suddenly a few days afterwards.
Legend has it that when performing in Cairo during the Second World War, Cooper mislaid his army-issue helmet and took a fez from a nearby waiter to wear for the show. The hat looked comically small on Cooper’s 6ft 3” frame and became his trademark.
The fez joins the V&A’s National Collection of Performing Arts, adding to the Tommy Cooper Collection (1921 – 1984) – a legacy of posters, hand-written jokes and a section of his meticulously organised ‘Gag File’. The entire collection is on public display for the first time in the Museum’s Theatre and Performance galleries from Tuesday. For more information visit V&A’s website.