Luster Bayless, John Wayne’s Personal Costumer

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B.B. Hudspeth & Luster Bayless
B.B. Hudspeth & Luster Bayless standing in front of wardrobe worn by James Arness in Gunsmoke & How the West Was Won. The Luster Bayless Hollywood Movie Costume Museum. Ruleville, MS.

Being an entertainer, I’m often privileged with the opportunity of meeting and befriending others in the industry, from both the stage and screen.   However, there is one particular individual I met through our mutual appreciation of Hollywood western memorabilia.  His name is Luster Bayless.  I recently had the pleasure of paying a couple of visits to Luster at his Hollywood Movie Costume Museum in Ruleville, MS.  His museum is home to original pieces from some of the biggest films and personalities in movie history.  For western fans, having the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the various contents and history in the museum is similar to the experience of how a kid feels in a candy store.  Equally impressive as his extensive collection is the story of how he broke into the business, eventually working with the biggest names in show business and founding one of the most reputable and largest costume companies in North Hollywood, California, United American Costume Company, which is currently run by his daughter, Diana Foster.

Luster began his career in wardrobe at Western Costume.  He later worked as a freelance dedicating his skills for various films.  His talent eventually caught the attention of the icon of westerns, John Wayne.  Luster served as John Wayne’s personal costumer for more than a dozen films, working with the Duke through his last movie, The Shootest.  Luster has worked with directors John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Francis Ford Copolla.  From Steve McQueen to Brad Pitt, the Emmy winner has dressed them all, including movies Back to the Future, Sea Biscuit, Legends of the Fall, Titanic, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and the miniseries, Lonesome Dove.  Not bad for a sharecropper’s son who hitchhiked to Hollywood from the Delta in 1959 with only $65 in his pocket.  Visit Luster’s museum at 116 Ruby Street in Ruleville, Mississippi and hear his story (and a John Wayne story or two) directly from him…Follow your dreams.