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Sunday, August 30, 2015

George Reeves "Superman" Costume Ensemble Up For Auction

A Superman costume, purported to have been worn by George Reeves during the 1953 (second) season of the Adventures of Superman television show of the 1950s, is up for auction this coming month.

The costume's colorization was tailored for black & white film for contrast.

Along with the costume, a "flying pan" device used for flying scenes is included with the costume.

They are being auctioned by Profiles In History.

Here's the auction's description:
1014. George Reeves “Superman” costume ensemble with fx “flying pan”. (Warner Bros. TV, 1952-58) This amazing Superman ensemble was worn by George Reeves in 26 second season episodes of The Adventures of Superman – the last year the show was shot in black & white. The gray knit wool suit (with Berman’s Hollywood label) consists of tunic with under-strap, leggings, dark brown trunks, tan leather belt with oval brass buckle, brown cape and brown leather suede boots with rear zipper closure. Stitched on both the chest of the tunic and back face of the cape is the signature stylized “S” insignia in dark brown on a field of crème. The muscle under-suit is constructed of a durable synthetic satin-like fabric with sculpted rubber torso, suggesting muscular pectoral, abdominal and bicep muscles. At the end of the first season, George Reeves was hanging by some wires in an effort to achieve a flying shot. One of the wires broke and George fell about fifteen feet. He told producers he would never use the wires again and that they needed to devise a better way of “flying” him. Several special effects men were asked to come up with ways to achieve the flying shots without risking harm to Reeves. Special effects specialist Thol Simonson, along with others on his team, developed the system of using a molded fiberglass pan to hold Reeves when he flew; he would lay on the pan with his costume over the pan to conceal it from view. The pan was bolted onto a hydraulic system that would move him up and down and side to side while a blue-screen projection was running behind him to simulate flight. This 35 x 16 in. fiberglass and steel “flying pan” rig – the magic behind Superman’s flight – is included with the costume and was used during Season 2 through to the final Season 6. Both the costume and the “flying pan” come with a LOA from Thol Simonson who kept the costumes following the production of the groundbreaking show. The costume is in unrestored condition exhibiting small areas of surface abrasion and minor tears and staining from production use. The muscle torso under-suit exhibits numerous stains and applied patching (during production) under the arms, yet the rubber still remains supple. The sequences of Superman in flight were the highlights of The Adventures of Superman legacy, and this hero Superman costume with special effects flying rig represents the finest, most complete and historic costume in the history of television to be sold at auction.
$100,000 - $150,000
Above, George Reeves in a 1953 season costume.

Both items are from the Thol "Si" Simonson (the show's former special effects director) estate and includes a certificate of authenticity (did Simonson sign it knowing that both would be sold at auction after his death?).

The auction, "Hollywood Auction 74" begins September 29 and will end two days later. It is indicated that the Superman items are to be part of the second day's (Wednesday) offerings. I am tempted to attend the auction as it will be held in nearby Calabasas.

The items estimated to bring in $100,000-$150,000. The starting bid is set at $100,000.

For more details, go here.

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