YOU WANT TO DONATE WHAT?
You just never know what donations will come through the doors of the Bayou Teche Museum. It might be a local with a vintage sign from his long-closed family business. Or an out of state visitor with a historical photograph of ancestors from the Bayou Teche region. But once in a while, it’s something truly unique. Like the recently donated pith helmet. Pith helmet, you say? Yes, a pith helmet with a story to tell.
Back in 1937, Cecil B. DeMille came to South Louisiana to film a movie about Jean Lafitte entitled The Buccaneer. Some of the cast and crew stayed in New Iberia while filming was taking place in nearby Catahoula. Fredric March starred in the production, and many locals played small parts or worked in the production crew. Keith Courrégé was one such local, and he was apparently quite a character. Widely known as an excellent chef, later in life he penned the cookbook Pecans from Soup to Nuts. As a matter of fact, his grandson Jady Regard is the Chief Nut Officer of Cane River Pecan Company. Perhaps the pecan doesn’t fall far from the tree!
At some point during production on The Buccaneer, Keith Courrégé passed around the pith helmet and collected autographs and messages. It was probably at a party, this being Cajun Country. Many members of the cast and crew left their mark on the pith helmet. One such message was written by Art Rosson, the Second Unit Director, and is pictured below. Many of the messages were directed to Keith Courrégé such as, “From Carl Coleman, Prop Man Paramount Pictures, to one swell fellow – Keith.”
Keith Courrégé is no longer here to tell us about that party. But his daughter-in-law, Julie Regard, was kind enough to donate the pith helmet to the museum. Perhaps additional research will turn up more details to add to the story of Cecil B. DeMille’s adventure along the Bayou Teche and the part played by Keith Courrégé and his pith helmet.