Take Two for July 24, 2013

Chris' Collection: 'Retro' tissue box

Chris Nichols

Todd Johnson/KPCC

Chris Nichols holds a Kleenex box used in the film "The Aviator."

Chris Nichols is an editor at L.A. Magazine, but he's also a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Southern California's history. Every so often, he comes by and he brings in one of his treasures and gives us the backstory on it. 

This week, he brings in a retro-looking tissue box that's not as old school as it looks. It was created by a local prop house, History for Hire, which specializes in making all kinds of historically accurate props. It was featured in the 2004 film, "The Aviator" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 

In addition to the production of the cardboard cutouts, History for Hire produces props for some of today's most popular TV shows and movies. Anything not currently in production or readily available is created from scratch.

"For 'Mad Men,' they said they had to make a can of shaving cream — the actual can didn't exist anymore — and they fashioned something out of a ping pong ball [can]," Nichols said.

But how close are these props to the real thing? Nichols is convinced that their props do justice to the saddles, cigarette packs or bottles of old.

"These guys are sticklers. Everything is just completely perfect, the stuff they do for these movies and the elaborate detail they go to," he said. 

Want your own faux-vintage Kleenex box? You're in luck. Due to the numerous takes that require multiple fresh props, History for Hire often ends up with a surplus after the film or show wraps.

"They have a bunch of extras, so you can go in there and buy them for just a few bucks," Nichols said.

Certainly nothing to sneeze at.


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