A HOLLYWOOD SURF STORY
I know I have mentioned the story about how a Dewey Weber t-shirt ended up in the movie American Graffiti, but since we just got fully restocked on Weber tees for summer, I thought it would be a good time to go into a bit more detail…it’s a pretty cool story.
Dewey Weber loved movies and actually built custom surfboards for a number of Hollywood notables, including Richard Jaeckel and Robert Conrad. As you may recall, Jaeckel was a long time television and film actor, appearing in productions like The Dirty Dozen, Baywatch and Spencer: For Hire. Robert Conrad was best known for his starring role in the TV series The Wild Wild West. He owned a house in Malibu and learned to surf there in the ‘50s.
According to Shea Weber, Dewey and Carol’s son, Hollywood producers during the ‘60s would often ask his parents for Weber surfboards and apparel for movies they were filming, but somehow they never made it to the silver screen. Then one day in the early ‘70s, a letter arrived at the Weber shop, asking for some t-shirts for an upcoming movie. The letter just said the movie was about growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. With zero previous success, Dewey dismissively stuffed a Weber t-shirt (one that had been used to wipe down surfboards in the showroom) into an envelope and sent it off to Hollywood. Dewey and Carol didn’t give it another thought.
Months passed. Then one day, a couple of Weber team riders stopped by the Weber shop and suggested that Dewey and Carol check out a new film that had just been released. They didn’t tell them why; they just said it was a good one and that they would enjoy it. Needless to say, they did.
American Graffiti was released in the U.S on August 11, 1973. It was directed by George Lucas, who was just 29 years old at the time. It is based on Lucas’s own experiences growing up in Modesto, California, and several of the characters actually represent him at various stages of his teenage years. I’ve always thought that it was shot in Modesto, but filming actually took place mostly in Petaluma, California. With a budget of just $777,000, Lucas directed and co-wrote a movie that has grossed more than $200 million since its release, and was nominated by The Academy for Best Picture in 1974. The winner that year? The Sting.
In a motion picture that featured such burgeoning stars as Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers and Cindy Williams, it was 12-year-old Mackenzie Phillips who wore the classic Weber t-shirt that Dewey had flippantly tossed into an envelope months before. As you may know, Phillips (the daughter of The Mamas and Papas founder John Phillips) was wearing the shirt backwards, apparently so the larger back logo would show better on camera than the smaller front pocket logo.
There are so many more interesting bits of trivia about American Graffiti…I can’t help but share one I came across. Remember when Richard Dreyfuss (“Curt”) was getting on an airplane at the end of the movie? Well, that plane was a DC-7, which had been previously owned by the band Grand Funk Railroad, and “Curt” boarding it represented George Lucas leaving Modesto for college!
will always remember American Graffiti for the Dewey Weber t-shirt that Mackenzie Phillips wore in it. We have plenty of classic Weber tees in stock again, so check ‘em out! And if you happen to be travelling up the California coast between LA and San Francisco this summer, stop by the Dewey Weber showroom in San Luis Obispo! It’s located at 979 Johnson Avenue, near downtown SLO…it’s a very cool shop and Shea is almost always there, ready to talk surf!
Until next time,