It is widely believed that FBI’s Regional Bureau Chief, Gordon Cole, is suffering from “99 percent hearing loss”. But what is Gordon Cole‘s degree of deafness, really? Fascinated by all things Twin Peaks, former fest organizer, Jared Lyon, did a lot of research on Cole’s hearing aid prop and found the answer.
“YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP SHERIFF, HEARING’S GONE, LONG STORY, GOT THESE THINGS CRANKED UP TO THE MAX!”
—Federal Bureau of Investigation Regional Bureau Chief, Gordon Cole.
Gordon Cole’s Hearing Aid Prop
The device you see on David Lynch in both the series and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is the Acousticon model A-120, also known as the ‘Constellation.’ From BernardBecker: “This 1-piece vacuum tube hearing aid features a large decorative microphone grill. The aid measures 2-3/8 x 4 x 7/8 inches, and has a combination on/off and volume control wheel on the case.”
Model A-120 was used for stage 1 and 2 deafness, implicating that Gordon Cole was only “moderately deaf” at most. Was he exploiting his disorder to hit on
miracle workers cute waitresses? 😉
Originally from circa 1948, the model a-120 was available in “rich bronze trimmed in gold” or “soft gray trimmed in silver” and came with your choice of aid conduction or bone conduction receivers. Neat feature: you could disguise the microphone as you can see in the photo below. I’m sure Gordon Cole loved that.
Acousticon model A-120 with concealed “jeweled pin” microphone. Photo by Steve O’Bannon.
Here’s a vintage newspaper ad from The News And Courier, Jan 29 (1950). Back in 1950, it was priced $149.50. That would be $1,450 in today’s economy!
BONUS: Coincidentally, there’s a song inspired by all of this called Is Gordon Cole Really Deaf? by Vompleud.
Thanks again to Jared for the extensive research! Discover more Twin Peaks props.
My personal long held belief is that there isn’t anything wrong with Gordon’s ears, physically. His affliction is rather psycho-somatic as he can hear things he wants to hear. The benefit from being disabled is the attention he gets, making the former introvert into an extrovert. Without the excuse to be loud he would probably not be comfortable with approaching beautiful women, for instance. How much of this is consciously realized by Gordon can be debated however.
I like your theory, Pauli! Thanks for sharing.
I’ve always subscribed to Pauli’s theory, as that’s what I’ve always thought. It makesssense that it’s a psychosomatic condition.
Sounds a lot like my husband. Only hears what he wants to and can thus escape certain things 😉
My thoughts are just like Pauli’s; his hearing loss is only psychosomatic 🙂
When David told me about Gordon’s hearing aid deal I had to find one he liked, so I went to a Prop house and brought back a few for him to choose, we were also doing the Roadhouse scene with Julie Cruz and David ask me to bring in someone to make custom hear pieces for it. At the end of the show David got the hearing aid, which he loved. Thats one Prop I wish I had! I do still have the Voice Actuated “Diane” recorder seen on the show , now thats a damm fine Prop!
I knew it! He had to own it, because it was in the show and the movie, which I believe rarely happens. I didn’t mention it in the article, but Jared spotted the custom piece too.
I just watched the 1973 François Truffaut film “Day for Night” for the first time. In it, Truffaut plays a film director and uses a hearing aid similar to this.
Just saw a photo from that film. You’re right! Wondering if it might have been an inspiration too.
IPod was around in 1948. Atomic-
The first time Gordon “appears” in the show he’s talking to Cooper on the phone, and he seems to have to problem hearing Cooper. Agree with Pauli 🙂
I have one for sale.
mijaan @ gmail.com
Wow, I love this post. I’m a middle child, someone who grew up incredibly Type A and resentful of my do-no-wrong older brother, and a bit resentful of my much younger and indulged brother. Yes, I’m awesome. My kids were born so close together – thankfully for my older child, or I would have analyzed him to death – that I actually became much less relaxed after having two. Still Type A, but more relaxed.