Costumes for Oscar-winning movies inspired by Rulevillian
by Rory Doyle
Mar 06, 2013 | 3629 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruleville native Luster Bayless hitchhiked to Hollywood in 1959 to work his way into an illustrious career as a costume designer. His company, the United American Costume Company designed clothes for the 2013 Oscar-winning films "Lincoln" and "Django Unchained."
Ruleville native Luster Bayless hitchhiked to Hollywood in 1959 to work his way into an illustrious career as a costume designer. His company, the United American Costume Company designed clothes for the 2013 Oscar-winning films "Lincoln" and "Django Unchained."
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One Ruleville native left the Delta in 1959 as an ambitious 21-year-old looking to make his mark in an unfamiliar world — Hollywood.

With sights on a lofty goal, Luster Bayless has never looked back and he's still impacting the big screens.

Bayless and his staff from the United American Costume Company in North Hollywood were responsible for designing clothes for the 2013 Oscar-winning films "Lincoln" and "Django Unchained."

But dressing the stars from the biggest movies is nothing new for Bayless.

"It feels great being associated with Oscar films even after all these years," said Bayless. "The movies have been a part of my whole life — ever since I was a little kid begging for rides home from the theatre in Ruleville."

He was drawn to California after a Ruleville friend's uncle became friends with a Hollywood producer while serving together in World War II.

The uncle, Seth Banks, went on to become a successful movie costumer and Bayless soon knew it was also his calling.

"I was the son of a sharecropper who grew up picking cotton," said Bayless. "I had $65 in my pocket and I decided to hitchhike across the country to see if he could get me a costume job. I didn't care what it was at first."

So when Luster arrived in '59, Banks helped him get a beginning job at Western Costume making $1.62 an hour.

Interaction with loyal Western customers led to his big shot, designing costumes for the legendary John Wayne in "McLintock!"

And the connection with Duke was the magical relationship that cemented Bayless's longtime success.

"Duke said to me one day, 'I want you to design costumes for all my films,'" said Bayless. "I couldn't believe him! "

The duo stuck together forevermore, giving Bayless the opportunity to expand his name and business stock.

By 1977 he opened the United American Costume Company, which would eventually develop into one of the most respected companies in the industry.

Looking down the movie list that Bayless and his firm have dressed would leave any movie fan in awe.

Not only did he work with the Duke until his final movie in 1976, but he's also dressed performers in classics like "Apocalypse Now," "Smokey & the Bandit," both versions of "True Grit" and countless other titles.

His more recent movies include "The Help," shot in Greenwood, "Hugo," "Benjamin Button," "There Will Be Blood," "Titanic" and many more.

The resumé goes on and on.

Bayless, now semiretired, has returned to his Delta roots by splitting his time between Ruleville and California.

He has also established the Hollywood Movie Costume Museum in downtown Ruleville decorated with thousands of costumes, pictures, posters and movie memorabilia.

The public is invited to view the collection by appointment.

United American Costume Company remains a powerhouse in design with over 33,000 square feet of warehouse space and 70,000 square feet of wardrobe from every era imaginable.

"It's been a historical career," said Bayless. "There have been so many memories and I'll never step away from the movies."

He will soon be selling costumes from secondary actors from "Django Unchained.