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Sneak Review

Converse in pop culture -- Chuck Taylors are everywhere from ''Juno'' to ''The Outsiders''

Long before Manolos and Louboutins, there was the Chuck Taylor, the original celebrity shoe that could rival Morgan Freeman for IMDb credits. On the occasion of Converse's 100th anniversary, a character study of their iconic canvas-and-rubber creation.

A pair of black Chucks wanders into the frame and instantly defines the wearer as an outsider. He's cool — or trying to be cool. The rumble-ready rebels SODAPOP and PONYBOY from The Outsiders wore them, and so did DANNY ZUKO while kissing then dissing Sandy in Grease. When underdog ROCKY BALBOA flew up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — and, he hoped, to boxing glory — he sported a well-worn pair. The athletic shoe hopped just as deftly from city-street courts to kids who'd rather play guitar than basketball. Soled in All Stars, KURT COBAIN brought the music world to heel, followed a decade later by faux-punk pop star Avril Lavigne, who picked up her cred at the mall. Nerds made similarly aspirational purchases — those picked last for dodgeball could at least run from peril in shoes worn by their cultural gods. Woody Allen neurotically paced New York City in Annie Hall wearing the famed footwear; elsewhere on the island, a Converse-clad FELICITY spent years pining in hers. More recently, another geek heroine, Ellen Page's JUNO, customized her plaid pair with bold orange laces. (It followed that the character loved music by Sonic Youth, also Chuck fans.) Surely not even Charles Hollis Taylor, the former coach-turned-super-salesman who lent his name to the simple rubber-soled shoe, could have imagined such glory.

Originally posted Mar 21, 2008 Published in issue #984 Mar 28, 2008 Order article reprints