Staff Photographer Lane Stewart stopped outside Winslow, Ariz. a few weeks ago to phone the office for his next assignment. "I was in the middle of the desert," he says, "in one of those places with a bush, a rock and a filling station/general store." So imagine his reaction when Picture Editor Barbara Henckel asked him to rustle up a Napoleon uniform, size extra large, in which to photograph Tom Glassic for the story about the Denver Broncos' guard that begins on page 30. This was late on a Thursday. The uniform had to be located by Friday so it could be flown to Denver for a Monday shooting, but not to worry. Stewart started to call his contacts around the country.
"John? This is Lane. I need an extra-large Napoleon suit by Monday. What do you think?" John thought Western Costume Co. in Los Angeles might have one. Stewart persuaded him to make the call and arrange shipping, and left for Denver, where two pleasant surprises awaited him.
The first came when he met Glassic and discovered that they share a mutual interest in military miniatures. This is a hobby wherein one a) buys a casting of a soldier in a hobby shop, researches a uniform and paints the figure, or b) sculpts a figure from scratch or alters a plastic one using epoxy putty. Glassic indulges in the former, Stewart in the latter. "There's a trend in modeling today toward telling little stories in vignettes," says Stewart. One of Stewart's is of a French dragoon astride a horse, lifting a stein of beer off a tray held by an innkeeper standing under a sign that says L'Aigle (French for The Eagle). Hidden behind the innkeeper's gate is a sign that says Gasthof Zum Adler (German for Inn of the Eagle).
"I've always had a little fun with my figures," says Stewart. "The dragoon originally had a rifle in his hand. I started thinking about beer, then I thought I could concoct the innkeeper, and the signs just followed from that." Stewart spent about 150 hours on this particular vignette, which is one of a dozen he has created. He has entered his works in modeling competitions, and has won an award for every figure he's shown.
August 8, 1982
Before he met Stewart, Glassic had been painting his figures with enamel, but while they waited for the Napoleon uniform to arrive, Stewart taught him how to do them with oils. "The colors are more nearly permanent," says Stewart, "and you blend them with these very fine brushes, right on the figure. We spent a whole afternoon painting a British grenadier."
Stewart got his second surprise when he picked up the uniform at the airport and discovered a label on the inside of the cloak that read: M. Brando. " 'My God,' I thought, 'Brando's cloak!' I was really excited." Glassic, on the other hand, donned the uniform and announced in a funereal tone, "I've had this on before," a remark that will become clear when you read the article.
At any rate, when Stewart finished shooting Glassic, he couldn't resist putting on the cloak, which Brando had worn when he played Napoleon in the 1954 movie Désirée. Neither Glassic nor Stewart felt an urge to invade Russia, however. Instead, they went out and attacked a couple of steaks.