Those readers who have followed the ongoing series of articles about Superman costume/costume components offered for sale, attributed to use by Christopher Reeve in the Superman films of the 70s and 80s, will have likely noted that many costumes circulating in the marketplace are marketed as having previously been used as reference pieces in the production of similar costumes for the Superboy (AKA Adventures of Superboy) television series, which ran in syndication from 1988-1992 (four seasons).
Of those costumes listed in the Superman Costume Matrix: Auction House/Dealer Website Public Offerings (ver 1.0, 04/04/08), I count nine (9) costumes which are noted (explicitly or implied by source) as reference costumes for the Superboy television series. This does not reflect the number of additional costumes circulating in the marketplace on eBay that have also been described as former reference costumes for the Superboy television series (see prior articles).
Many of the costumes that are characterized as original Berman’s & Nathan’s produced Superman costumes worn by Christopher Reeve, used as reference by Disney’s “Creative Costuming” as part of the provenance, have letters/LOAs/COAs from “Super Hollywood”, signed by either Ana Mungia or Armando Alvarez. Many are also characterized as “gifts” from the Salkinds (producers of the films and television series).
Given that so many costumes in the marketplace cite Disney’s “Creative Costuming” as a source and/or central point in the chain of custody – as well as a point of conversion from studio/production company property to private property – further research into this foundational component of cited provenance is warranted, as are questions regarding the transference of rights of ownership, authentication, and how this has been memorialized in the form of documentation attached to these costumes.
Revue Magazine Article: “Area Outfitters Dress Up The Industry”, Disney’s Creative Costuming
One collector received a copy of the following “Revue” magazine article along with the purchase of a Superman costume of this pedigree on eBay. Some of the names in the article were marked out, but still identifiable in the scan.
This August 1989 article is titled: “Area Outfitters Dress Up The Industry”:
High Resolution Archive: Revue (August 1989) “Area Outfitters Dress Up The Industry”
These are excerpts from the article:
Since October of 1971, Disney’s Creative Costuming has been responsible for providing all the costumes for the theme park’s entertainers and attraction personnel.
With a staff of 112 and a work increase of 15 to 20 percent expected this year, senior manager Baker thinks creating costumes for film and television will be just another way to show off Disney Magic.
“We’re not in competition with the rental houses because we’re not supplying the same types of clothing. Disney is unique. We do what hasn’t been seen before.
“The philosophy of the costume department at Disney World and Disneyland is that we don’t want to be the star; we want to be a contribution to the whole show.”
An exception to that rule are the costumes made for some of their entertainers, like the World Dancers, who sometimes wear embroidered, sequined, and jeweled designs that cost about $5000 apiece. “With 32 people on stage, you’re seeing something as ornate as a Las Vegas revue,” says Baker.
Because Disney’s personnel are outfitted in themed or period costumes, they are little affected by fashion trends, although the hotels and staff do try to update their image every five years.
That doesn’t mean that a producer using the services of both the studios and the costume department won’t be able to get a desired current fashion look.
“We have people who do nothing all day but shop the malls, survey a chosen segment of the population, and appraise what looks are popular,” says Baker.
Some of that expertise paid off with the first regularly produced television show to be shot at the studios, Superboy.
“As Clark Kent, Superboy needed to wear the normal clothes of a college student, so our staff first surveyed what University of Central Florida (renamed Schuster College in the series) students were wearing and then brought back $5000 worth of clothes and did fittings from those. In most cases, each scene requires that at least two of the same outfits be purchased. Even more if stuntmen acting as doubles were in the scene.
“As for Superboy’s suits, we made all nine of them ourselves. Quite a few of the same people working on the show produced the original Superman series in England, so we were able to reproduce the look, with some adaptations.”
Baker says Superboy’s boots were impossible to duplicate. The English Berman Company, who made Superman’s, had to construct them for the show at $250 a pair.
There is a lot of information in this article.
The article includes the statement by Creative Costuming’s Senior Manager that they produced nine (9) Superboy costumes for the television series, as of the publication date of the article – August 1989 – this would have been nine suits made for the entire first season, going into the second.
As noted above, there are nine (9) costumes listed in the Superman Costume Matrix that were characterized as original and authentic Superman Christopher Reeve costumes employed as reference costumes for the Superboy television series (not including those offered for sale on eBay).
Why would there have been more original Superman costumes employed as reference material than Superboy costumes actually produced for the first/second season(s) of the television series?
Super Hollywood / “Creative Costume Design” Letter, July 1991
Below is a “Super Hollywood” letter, signed “Anna Mungia, Creative Costume Design”, which was attached to a Superman costume (see “Christopher Reeves SUPERMAN authentic costume with COA“) offered for sale on eBay by seller “costumejunkie” in January 2008, February 2008, March 2008 (see “Questions About Superman Costumes in the Marketplace: “Costume Junkie” Response” and related articles):
High Resolution Archive: “costumejunkie” – Super Hollywood Letter, Anna Mungia, Creative Costume Design
The “Super Hollywood” letter reads:
To Whom it may concern:
The Chris Reeve Superman costume; tunic with snaps, red and yellow S shield, red attached trunks with red belt loops. Berman tags with matching blue leggings, red cape with snaps and yellow S shield with black outline, with two red straps, is one of the original Christopher Reeve movie costumes from the 1978 movie; Superman. It is believe to have been used and worn by Mr. Reeve as principal of above production.
During the late 1980’s to early 1990’s I had the pleasure of assisting Salkinds production in their Adventures of Superboy television series. As a model for the Superboy costume, we were given access to the original Superman costumes of Berman’s of England. This costume was given to me as a gift.
The above is true and correct.
Creative Costume Design
This letter is dated July 1991, and identifies the costume as employed in the Superboy television series – which did not conclude until 1992, and was intended to run a fifth and sixth season (until issues between Warner Bros. and the Salkinds developed over television production rights to the Superman-related properties).
It is curious that a letter from 1991 states “[d]uring the late 1980’s to early 1990’s”. It seems unusual to refer to and write about 1990 and part of 1991 as the “early 1990’s” in July of 1991.
Also curious is this statement:
As a model for the Superboy costume, we were given access to the original Superman costumes of Berman’s of England. This costume was given to me as a gift.
If the production was “given access to the original Superman costumes”, who had the rights to then gift this property? “[G]iven access to” suggests the property was loaned/borrowed.
Super Hollywood / “MGM Studios”, “Creative Design” Letter, May 1991
As noted in a prior article, a second “Super Hollywood” letter from 1991 (two months earlier), also certified with a Mungia signature, was attached to another Superman costume recently offered for sale in the marketplace (see ”Superman Superboy Reeve Costume w Trunks”) on eBay by seller “queenrocks” in January 2008 (see “Questions About Superman Costumes in the Marketplace: Update 2“).
High Resolution Archive: “queenrocks” – Super Hollywood Letter, Ana Mungia, Creative Design
The second “Super Hollywood” letter reads:
May 15, 1991
This is to certify that the Superman costume in the position of Super Hollywood was one of the costumes acquired by me as personal gifts from the Salkinds during my employ for their Superboy production. The above is true and correct. It is believed to have been one of the costumes used in the production of their Superman movie of the 1978.
Wardrobe MGM studios
With this second letter, there is a photo of Gerard Christopher wearing a Superman/Superboy costume, with the notation:
Gerard Christopher Ilan-Mitchell Smith (wearing a Chris Reeve) “Bizzaro the Thing of Steel”
Again, the costume is characterized as an asset in the employ of the television production, yet going by the date of the letter, it was originally certified and prepared for sale/sold prior to the conclusion of the series. Per the seller’s eBay marketing description:
Costume appears to have been very lightly used and is near MINT condition.
Also, why was one of many costumers working for Creative Costuming “gifted” so many rare, original costumes? Referencing the Matrix and archived eBay listings, the name Mungia comes up many times as a source of these costumes. In the “Ten Outstanding Questions” article, Mr. Alvarez states that he sold approximately 10 Superman costumes, 5-6 Superboy costumes, and 4 Supergirl costumes – all acquired from Ms. Mungia. Again, in the article above, per the Senior Manager of Creative Costuming, only 9 Superboy costumes were produced as of August 1989, and I would assume some of those would have been damaged/discarded after the production of so many episodes in the series.
In comparing the two 1991 “Super Hollywood” letters, one is certified by Mungia with the first name spelled “Anna” while the other is spelled “Ana”:
Name Spelling, Signature Discrepancies – May 1991 v. July 1991
Here is a comparison of the two typed names and signatures from the two “Super Hollywood” letters dated July 1991 (“Anna”) and May 1991 (“Ana”) from the two recent eBay auctions (also see: “Ten Outstanding Questions About “Super Hollywood” Superman Costumes in the Marketplace“):
In addition to the different spelling of “An[n]a” in the May 1991 and July 1991 letters, the signatures do not appear to match.
This is part of the ongoing series of articles about costumes in the marketplace attributed to use by Christopher Reeve in the Superman films of the 70s and 80s (see “Questions About Superman Costumes in the Marketplace: Authenticity, Sources, Quantity“).
Jason De Bord
Additional Related Articles: Market Watch | Superman