Tuesday, February 05, 2013
The Author Himself Was a Cat in the Hat
The Cat wore a hat. Everyone knows that.
But so did Sam-I am, the mooing Mr. Brown and the fat fish from “One Fish, Two Fish” — a tiny yellow hat.
The Grinch disguised himself in a crinkled Santa hat.
All over Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books, his characters sport distinctive, colorful headwear — unless they are the kinds of creatures that have it sprouting naturally from their heads in tufted, multitiered and majestically flowing formations.
So it’s no surprise that the real Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a hat lover himself. He collected hundreds of them, plumed, beribboned and spiked, and kept them in a closet hidden behind a bookcase in his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He incorporated them into his personal paintings, his advertising work and his books. He even insisted that guests to his home don the most elaborate ones he could find.
“Believe me, when you get a dozen people seated at a fairly formal dinner party,” his widow, Audrey, said in an interview for an 1999 educational video, “and they’ve all got on perfectly ridiculous chapeaus, the evening takes care of itself.”
Now, as part of their efforts to keep the Seuss brand fresh in the eyes of young readers, Random House Children’s Books, his longtime publisher, and Dr. Seuss Enterprises have collaborated on an exhibit that for the first time will display some of his hats to the public.
The show, timed to the 75th anniversary of his book “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins,” will open Monday at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and then travel to 15 other locations over the course of the year. About a dozen hats will be displayed.