Luster Bayless

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  • Just noticed that Luster Bayless passed away on February 11, 2022. Below is his obituary:

    Luster Bayless
    October 26, 1937 - February 11, 2022

    Legendary Costumer to John Wayne and founder of United*American Costume Company dies, 84.

    Luster Bayless passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side on February 11th 2022 from natural causes brought on by Dementia. Luster’s rags to riches story began on October 26, 1937 when he was born to David and Jimmie Lee Bayless in Ruleville, MS. The son of sharecroppers, Luster’s young life was mostly spent in the cotton fields working on the Macabee Plantation. As a star quarterback at Ruleville High and talented Basketball player, Luster graduated from high school and enlisted in the U.S Navy where he was a purser on the U.S.S Cole. After the Navy, he enrolled in junior college but it wasn’t long before his dreams of a better life called his name to California. In 1959, he sold his college books and hitchhiked from Ruleville to Hollywood, CA. where his childhood friend Jimmy George was working as a costumer in the movie industry. Luster spent 2 years learning his craft at Western Costume Co. before accepting the position as a set costumer on “McClintock”. This led to 14 more movie offers with John Wayne including True Grit, Rio Bravo, The Cowboys and The Shootist to name a few. Luster also worked at Disney, MGM, Warner Bros., Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and many other studios as an independent costumer. His credits included Mary Poppins, That Darn Cat, Robinson Caruso, Telephon, Apocalypse Now, Comes A Horsemen, Conagher, Tom Horn and many others. While working at Disney, he met and married Patricia Voght, a marriage that lasted 27 years and blessed them with two daughters, Christy and Diana. In 1977, Luster decided to open his own costume company and United*American Costume Corp. was created. The small 10x10 storage space has grown over the last 44 years to cover more than 125,000 sq ft of wardrobe ranging from 1750 – present day.

    As a businessman, he was known to rule with an iron fist yet give you the shirt off his back if you asked. He believed in a day’s work for day’s pay and that a man’s word is good if he looks you in the eye and shakes your hand. He believed in quality rather than the net profit and as Costume Designer on Tom Horn, Luster was the first person to independently guarantee the wardrobe budget to include wardrobe and labor supplied by his company for one price. He has been credited for starting the careers of countless Costumers and Costume Designers and providing work for those losing their benefits because they were short on hours. He stood up for his beliefs and stopped shipments to Canada when runaway productions refused to allow American Costumers to work there.

    Despite his success, Luster never forgot where he came from. He frequently returned to his hometown of Ruleville, MS. and in the early 1980’s, he bought the estate across the street from the Macabee plantation where he had worked as a child. He was often seen riding his tractor and expressing his joy over his cotton and soybean crops. Luster shared his success with his hometown and started a museum there to display star wardrobe and memorabilia from some of Hollywood’s best actors and films as well as a restaurant and retail clothing store.

    In more recent years, he split his time between Los Angeles and Ruleville. In 2001, he handed the daily operations of his company over to his daughter, Diana. He continued to find joy every day in sharing his life stories to friends and customers and could be spotted frequently on a ladder restocking clothes, helping in a fitting or teaching a new Costumer how to shape a hat.

    Luster is survived by his daughters Christy (Steve) Kovacic, Diana (Rodd) Foster; 4 grandchildren, Samantha, Michelle, Dillon and Katie; 2 great-grandchildren, Jaxs and Jet; sister Reta (Maurice) Williams; extended family of nephews and nieces in Georgia and a list of friends that could wrap around the world.

    Funeral services will be held . on Saturday March 26th at Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, CA and 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday March 30th at Ruleville Baptist Church in Ruleville, MS. Rev. Robert Haney will officiate the services pallbearers will be Roger Willingham, Westley Brewer, Jimmy Haney, Steve Kovacic, Dillon Foster and Rodd Foster burial will follow in Lehrton Cemetery in Ruleville. American Legion Post No.29 will conduct military rites. If you would rather make a donation in his name in lieu of flowers, please consider the John Wayne Cancer Institute as that was always near and dear to his heart.