When NBC10 hired meteorologist Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz in 1995, they had one strange condition: Schwartz would have to make bow ties part of his look.
At the time, John Bolaris was the most recognizable meteorologist at the station and he’d already laid claim to debonair weatherman.
“He could be on the cover of GQ magazine.”
“He’s so handsome.”
“Women go crazy over him.”
These were just some of the ways Schwartz remembers his news director describing the station’s top weatherman.
Schwartz was instructed to be the anti-Bolaris.
“Instead of being insulted, I saw the potential immediately,” said Schwartz. “Because one of the important things about TV is being known. Do you stand out? Who are you?”
Schwartz, who prided himself on being a scientist, took the idea and ran with it — putting his foot down only when asked to sport pocket protectors and white shirts.
For the past 27 years, Schwartz has collected heaps of bow ties, many of them gag gifts he’s had to part with because they don’t fit his collection’s style. At the last count, Schwartz had 176 bow ties, haphazardly tossed in two organizing baskets that fit in a dresser drawer. He walked us through some of his most memorable ahead of his May 27 retirement.
The OG bow ties
They came from a Willow Grove Mall formal shop.
Even when picking a few bow ties for what was supposed to be a trial run, Schwartz had a vision.
One of his most significant issues with bow ties was that they often looked sloppy because people opted for material that was too silky or a bow that was too big. Few things are more frustrating than a floppy bow tie, according to Schwartz, so only sturdy materials that look good on and off-camera made his collection.
Sizing was less of a science and relied on the old eyeball test. No bow too small that would disappear on camera and no bow too big so that it looked like it was wearing Schwartz.
And even in the early days of rocking bow ties, Schwartz swore he wouldn’t follow trends, opting for abstract and geometric patterns.
Still, perhaps the biggest commitment Schwartz made in 1995 was to skip the lessons on how to tie his new signature accessory.
Schwartz prefers pre-tied bow ties. But please, don’t call them clip-ons.
“Don’t ever let anybody call them clip-ons,” joked Schwartz.
No, but seriously.
“That was from my father’s generation. These are very nicely made and they have a hook at the end you can adjust them and they’re perfectly symmetrical.”
Schwartz held a strong belief that ties were one of the few ways men could show a fashion sense in the workplace — you could only be so adventurous with a dress shirt and suit — even before his move to NBC10.
To follow his carefully crafted bow tie rules and make up for the dearth of acceptable options at malls, Schwartz dug into his stash of regular ties from his time as a storm-chasing meteorologist at the Weather Channel — hence the nickname — and WNYW-TV in New York. He sent them to a company in Vermont that could convert them into the pre-tied bow ties he fancied.
Almost three decades later, those bow ties remain in his collection. While some of the burgundy and teal color schemes are reminiscent of a now-vintage style; some of the more chaotic patterns, reminiscent of a Kandinsky painting, hold the test of time.
“I still wear them because I have a certain style and that style is mine. And it’s not going to change,” he said. “… There’s nobody in the world that has a bow tie like this.”
Love overcomes a fashion choice
Even though Schwartz has fewer than 200 bow ties, he’s always tried to make it seem as though he’s got one for every day of the year. His wife, Sherry Schwartz, plays a big role in keeping that illusion alive, helping her husband with the rotations. But Schwartz jokes that bow tie men aren’t necessarily seen as ladies’ men.
“I used to say that I gave up my opportunity to be a sex symbol in order to be the weather nerd.”
His own wife had an initial resistance to his trademark. Sherry made a plea during a cruise: How about the bow ties stay at work? The couple joke that she reneged the request almost immediately, noting a regular tie “just didn’t look great.”
Schwartz would wear a dark purple and black bow tie with a dotted pattern to their wedding and it remains one of his favorites. Viewers might recognize it. He’s worn it to work.
Bow tie gifts, bow tie gags
When you’re known for collecting a certain thing, that thing can become a go-to gift, and sometimes, these tokens of appreciation don’t fit your aesthetic.
Thankfully, said Schwartz, viewers have refrained from sending him bow ties.
“I am so particular about style and size that you know sometimes people have sent me some things that were really nice but not my style,” he said.
He’s been sent a bow tie made of bow tie pasta, wood bow ties, and perhaps the itchiest, a fur bow tie.
Of the gifts, he’s kept one.
A viewer sent Schwartz a Phillies bow tie after he mentioned he didn’t have one in his sports collection. It showcases the Phillies logo against a cream background on the right side of the knot and the team name in cursive on the left.
For the love of Philly sports
Looking back at a long career in television, and an even longer career in meteorology, Schwartz says it’s no coincidence he spent the last 27 years in the city in which he was born and raised.
“I’m a Philly guy,” he said. “I have the right accent and the right attitude and I love the sports teams like the people here.”
While being a Philly sports fan comes with a hint of pain, Schwartz has always rooted for the local professional teams with his bow ties.
He’s got a more formal red-and-blue-striped Phillies bow tie with the team’s signature “P” strategically peppered across the bow and a beachy bow tie with starfish, palm trees, and “P” pattern against an ocean-blue backdrop. There’s the requisite Eagles pattern, complete with the bird and team name against a black background, and the bow tie that’s a nod to the Allen Iverson-era jerseys -- you know, the one with the basketball swishing past the 76ers lettering.
“Maybe one of those teams will win again,” jokes Schwartz, adding that his retirement plans include more Phillies, Sixers, and Eagles games.
Malcolm Jenkins is a ‘bow tie guy’
Remember Schwartz’s rule on how a bow tie needs to be the right size? There’s always room for exceptions, especially if the accessory in question has ties to another “bow tie guy.”
One of Schwartz’s prized possessions is a bow tie he would never own had it not been personally designed by retired Eagles’ safety Malcolm Jenkins. Schwartz said he didn’t think twice about buying the colorful bow tie, albeit a bit big, at a charity event.
The purchase gives Schwartz’s collection a more-modern color scheme with a pattern full of tropical orange and coral geometric shapes.
Like Schwartz, Jenkins turned to bow ties to spruce up his wardrobe and show off his personal style. Jenkins famously bought fabric he liked, a sewing machine, and Googled patterns for making a bow tie. He’d later launch his own collection.
Of course, Jenkins is more than a dapper designer.
“He won us a Super Bowl,” said Schwartz. “Their first one in my lifetime, so every time I look at [the Jenkins bow tie] or wear it, it reminds me of the Super Bowl victory.”
Weather bow ties
What is a television meteorologist without a little something to commemorate certain weather events? Schwartz touts his carefully curated snowflake bow ties, which meet his size specifications — not too large, not too small — and have just enough “pop” of white and baby blue snowflakes against dark blue and red backdrops.
“I try to wear those the night before a snowstorm, so it’s like the bat signal,” explained Schwartz.
A blue weather map bow tie, complete with the green storm systems Schwartz has shown viewers over the years, is another favorite, courtesy of the American Meteorological Society.
A bow tie close to the chest
Not all bow ties have to be flashy.
This red American Heart Association bow tie is subtle in that you can’t really make out the heart pattern without a close look. The smallest white hearts punctuate a more abstract pattern of maroon and cherry-red anatomically accurate hearts.
Still, it’s meaningful to Schwartz, who had a heart bypass a decade ago.
“I almost died,” recalled Schwartz. “I was maybe hours or days away from a fatal heart attack.”
Doctors told Schwartz he was experiencing 99% blockage in his main artery, colloquially called “the widowmaker.”
Since his recovery, he’s made the American Heart Association one of the charities he works closely with.
The end of an era?
The only instance Schwartz didn’t wear a bow tie when giving us the five-day forecast over the last 27 years was on the occasional April Fools’ Day.
During retirement, he’s likely to reserve bow tie days for times he’ll have to dress up.
Schwartz has considered giving most of his collection away to people who appreciate his style. Maybe he’ll auction them for charity, he said.