Two months later, and I’m still thinking about this umbrella. If you watched Succession, you know what umbrella I’m talking about, and if you didn’t watch Succession, that photo just about sums it up. In episode three, as Kendall Roy plots a takeover of his father’s multimedia company (I realize that describes about 78 percent of the show), he’s carrying a black golf umbrella that is so comically large it can barely fit in the frame. Even now, I can’t get over the semiotics — rain gear as privilege and arrogance and a breathlessly selfish understanding of personal space (“Get out of mine and fuck yours”). I didn’t want the umbrella so much as I wanted to know about it.
Typically, finding a certain costume or makeup from a TV show is pretty straightforward. You call a press contact at the network, who connects you with the right person. When the episode aired in August, I reached out to HBO, but they didn’t get back to me. A few weeks passed, and life moved on, but as it started raining a few days ago in New York, I started thinking again about that damn umbrella. People rushing through the rain with downcast eyes would brush into me on Prince Street, and I’d think, “If only I had Kendall’s umbrella.” After a few detours (even Reddit was at a loss; did you also know that umbrellas are handled by props and not costume designers?), I found Tess Peltzer-Rollo, who was in charge of props on the show and graciously responded to my cold-texting her. When I asked about the umbrella, she didn’t have much memory of it (which boggled my mind) but said she would ask her team.
Later that day, a text popped up from Tess: “The consensus is that the umbrella is what we call a ‘prop truck special.’ It wasn’t supposed to rain that day, so we had to pull umbrellas from our truck (which is a moving prop storage unit). My memory of that shooting day is foggy, but we most likely brought a handful of options to set for the director and actors to choose from. We don’t remember the brand or where we bought it (could have been on the truck for years).” A dead end.
I wondered, though, whether it might be possible to decipher the maker of the umbrella from distinguishing details on the show. I went home, re-watched the episode, and tried to find any identifying markers I could. After playing the scene a few times (26:45 of “Lifeboats,” if you’re interested), I spotted some wording on the closure strap.
After looking at it upside down for about ten minutes (Does that say “Chad”? “Obid”?), I showed it to my colleague Margaret, who took one glance and instantly said, “PRO.” The prefix sounded familiar. When you Google golf umbrellas, one of the first things that comes up is Procella, which apparently is virtually indestructible whether by wind or being jumped on by an adult male. But besides the three letters, nothing about the Procella umbrellas checked out.
There’s the first issue, of course, of the giant logo on one of the panels, which isn’t on Kendall’s umbrella. The script of the logo doesn’t match, either, and you can find other photos of the Procella umbrellas that show the closure strap has a logo placed in the center rather than just letters of its full name spelled out. I decided to ask Tess whether the letters PRO meant anything to her — she responded that, yes, “I feel like it was something like pro sport” but when I showed her the Procella, she said that was definitely not it. Tess did some Googling and pointed me in the direction of the G4Free, which looked right in almost all respects — except for the strap.
I was ready to call it a day and come up with some alternate explanation for the PRO — maybe a prop stylist wrote that themselves? “PROP”? “PROPERTY OF PROPS”? — but Tess, helpful as she was, was also dedicated to the truth: “No, we definitely would not have written that on it.”
There was another clue to go on, though. In a wider shot of the scene, you can see distinctly that there’s another little tag on the exterior of the umbrella. Maybe that could be enlarged and made legible (no, it turns out) or at least serve as an identifying trait — a body freckle at the umbrella coroner’s office.