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WEATHER UPDATE: The Museum is closed Monday January 30.

Every Cowboy Hat Tells a Story: Steve McQueen’s “Tom Horn” Hat

Every cowboy hat tells a story. From the quality of the materials to the customized crease, to the width of the brim, to the sweat and other stains, each hat reveals something about WHO is or was under the hat.

STEVE MCQUEEN “TOM HORN” WESTERN HAT, circa 1980
Resistol, Garland, Texas Fur felt, grosgrain, leather

In his final film, Steve McQueen starred in the title role of Tom Horn (1980) wearing this hat. In the film, the renowned and notorious former US Army scout is hired by ranchers in Wyoming to hunt down rustlers. Instead, Horn becomes a pawn of the ambitions of ranchers and corrupt politicians who march over him and the Old West he knew.

The National Cowboy Museum has most of his costumes from Tom Horn. This style hat crease—called the Carlsbad crease by Stetson–later became associated with the character “Augustus McRae” in the mini-series Lonesome Dove (1989) and came to be called a “Gus crease.”

McQueen starred in a number of Western films, notably The Magnificent Seven (1960, Nevada Smith (1966), The Reivers (1969), Junior Bonner (1972), and the television Western Wanted Dead or Alive (1958-61). He began showing symptoms of cancer during the filming of Tom Horn, and after completing the film The Hunter (1980), he passed away in Mexico in November 1980.

“If you really knew how dirty and raggedy-assed the Old West was, you wouldn’t want any part of it.”
– “Tom Horn” as played by Steve McQueen

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