Black leather jackets caught on a century ago when men in newfangled automobiles and airplanes started wearing them to protect themselves from the weather. The jacket quickly became a symbol for a certain kind of man, a fashion statement that says it all. Keep clicking for a look at some of the pop culture high points for this iconic garment that still stands for rebellious cool.
Amelia Earhart wears a black leather jacket, typical for aviators, on May 22, 1932. She's seen here upon arriving in London, England, having become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone. Earhart (1898 - 1937) disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly around the world in 1937.
Marlon Brando pairs a black leather jacket with a motorcycle in the 1954 movie "The Wild One." Brando's character exuded cool with his leather-infused portrayal of a rebel. The fashion pairing of a motorcycle and a black leather jacket is being celebrated by the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wis. in an exhibit called "Worn to Be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket."
James Dean, known for his outsider roles in movies like 1955's "Rebel without a Cause" and "Giant," helped solidify the black leather jacket's importance in creating an image for a rebellious character. as a kind of shorthand for movie characters.
Jim Fricke, curtorial director of the Harley Davidson Museum, told CBS News, "(The black leather jacket) has become cultural shorthand. So if you're writing a screenplay and you have a character you want to immediately signal when they walk on stage that they are potentially dangerous and tough and cool, you put them in a leather jacket."
On "Happy Days," Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as The Fonz (played by Henry Winkler), could whack a jukebox and make it play a record, he always had a date and he had an office in a men's room. He was so cool he even helped Mrs. C compete in a dance contest. His go-to garment: a black leather jacket.
Photo: Clockwise from left, "Happy Days" co-stars Ron Howard, Anson Williams, Henry Winkler as The Fonz, Al Molinari and Tom Bosley.
The King of Pop sports a black leather jacket. Leather is a look he wore often in the public eye. In an edgy turn, he popularized red leather in the music video for "Thriller." Jackson is seen here greeting fans at a "Fan Appreciation Day" in Tokyo on March 9, 2007.
Once a look worn predominantly by men, black leather has risen to wardrobe staple status for women. Supermodel Kate Moss is seen here on the runway in an extremely fitted version designed by Versace in 1999.
Daredevil Evel Knievel pairs his motorcycle with a black leather jacket with color details. He's seen here accepting the Pioneer Award at the ESPN Action Sports and Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, April 7, 2001.