Lost at the Smithsonian explores pop culture history

Web Log: Aasif Mandvi’s podcast features Fonzie’s jacket, Spock’s ears and Ali’s robe

The first episode of Lost at the Smithsonian  focuses on Fonzie’s jacket

The first episode of Lost at the Smithsonian focuses on Fonzie’s jacket


Did you know the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum complex? It compromises 19 different museums displaying 1 million objects. And that’s the tip of the iceberg, because there are another 155 million objects in storage. Comedian Aasif Mandvi is on a mission to uncover the stories behind some of these objects with his new podcast Lost at the Smithsonian.

How did he choose the 10 objects that are the focus of this series? Mandvi went for iconic items that represent 20th-century American pop culture; from the robe worn by Muhammad Ali while training for his Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Forman to Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the comedian digs into the story behind each artefact.

The first episode focuses on Fonzie’s jacket (although Indiana Jones’s jacket and whip also gets a mention). Mandvi also gets the chance to hold Spock’s ears and Prince’s guitar – but more on Happy Days history. For a certain generation, Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzarelli was the epitome of cool, and a huge part of that was his perfectamundo leather jacket.

Smithsonian employee Eriz Jentz talks to Mandvi about how seeing the iconic jacket on display as a child led him to work for the museum years later. They discuss how the jacket symbolises 1950s nostalgia in an era of Watergate, when Americans yearned for “simpler times”, while reflecting on Fonzie’s problematic treatment of women.