Last Update: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cohn Exhibit Celebrates the Glamour of Hollywood Cowboys PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 10 October 2013 03:13

Costumes, Cars Are Featured In Newly Opening Valley Relics Museum

Information Provided To The San Fernando Sun/El Sol

Photo Courtesy of Valley Relics Museum

The contemporary love for cowboys dates back to at least the mid-20th century. In the 1940s, Roy Rogers,' Dale Evans' and Gene Autry's cowboy films were among the most popular in the theaters, and cowboy crooners Hank Williams, Tex Williams and Porter Wagoner topped the music charts.

These urban cowboys sparkled with the glitz of Hollywood. Their outfits were adorned with rhinestones and colorful embroidery.

The man behind this look was fashion designer Nudie Cohn. His "Nudie Suits" remain sought after fashion pieces for urban cowboys even though he died nearly 30 years ago. Cohn was also known for his 18 outrageously customized cars called "Nudiemobiles."

Starting Saturday, Oct. 12, the public will be able to see two such vehicles, a 1975 Cadillac and a 1968 station wagon, at the brand new Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth. They can also view a trailer owned by the late Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, who lived in Chatsworth from 1955 to 1965.

These vehicles and some of Cohn's fashion creations are the focal points of a special "Nudie Cohn" exhibit at the new museum.

Jamie Nudie, Cohn's granddaughter, has loaned Valley Relics the cars, the trailer and some of her grandfather's famous costumes. She has donated other items, such as photographs and her grandparents' household items that will become a permanent part of the Valley Relics collection.

"My grandfather was a huge part of the history of the San Fernando Valley," Jamie Nudie said. "That's why it is fantastic that Tommy Gelinas is creating this exhibit and opening Valley Relics Museum. He will put smiles on everyone's faces who remember the history of San Fernando Valley when my grandfather was alive."

Cohn was born as Nuta Kotlyarenko on Dec. 15, 1902 in Ukraine, a place that for most of his life was considered part of the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Cohn was born 15 years before the Soviet Union came into being, but by then his parents had already sent him and his brother Julius to America.

After Cohn married Helen "Bobby" Kruger in 1934, the couple moved to New York, where he became a tailor. In the early 1940s, they relocated to California and in 1947 began selling custom-made western wear in North Hollywood. Their original store was known as "Nudie's of Hollywood," but in 1963 they relocated to a larger store and renamed the business "Nudie's Rodeo Tailors."

Their customers not only included the singing and acting cowboys who were famous before 1950. Later customers included Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Elton John, Ronald Reagan and dozens more celebrities and famous cowboys.

Cohn's wife Helen and granddaughter Jamie (who changed her last name to Nudie's first to honor his legacy) kept "Nudie's Rodeo Tailors" open until 1994,10 years after Cohn died. The shop clothed movie stars, musicians and people who loved the urban cowboy look Nudie had made famous.

Jamie noted that while her grandfather may be best known as a clothier to the stars, he also did much to help those less fortunate. He gave money to a children's home, and also helped the Los Angeles Police Department with their efforts to the extent that for many years, he was known as the "Honorary Sheriff " of North Hollywood.

"After my grandfather died, they never named anyone else the Honorary Sheriff," Jamie said. "No one could fit that role as he did. He made a lot of money in his career, but he lived a very simple life in North Hollywood, so he could give much back to the community."

The Valley Relics Museum is located at 21630 Marilla St., in Chatsworth. It will be open every Saturday for viewings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (818) 678-4934.