It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman's Mid-Century Suits!

We continue our series on the evolution of the Superman suit, taking a look at the costumes of the 1950s and 1960s.

The man of steel flies into homes across the nation.

Superman first graced the small screen in the television show Adventures of Superman that ran from 1951-1958, starring George Reeves.  The first incarnation of Reeves' costume was created in white, grey, and brown to read properly when filmed in black & white.  

Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, 1950s.

Small changes made to the costume since the Kirk Alyn film version of the 1940s include a slightly more refined “S” shield, the now (more comic book accurate) longer cape, and a cape placement further back on the shoulders.

Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, 1950s.

After two seasons, the program made the leap to color and Reeves received a vivid red, blue, and yellow costume.  As most households still only owned a black & white television set, post production work was required to adjust the contrast of the suit for those audiences. 

Adventures of Superman IN COLOR, starring George Reeves, 1950s.

George Reeves' costumes on display, black & white and color versions. Adventures of Superman, 1950s.

No costume designer is credited for the show, but Izzy Berne is listed as wardrobe for the first two seasons.


Singing, dancing and saving the world as only Superman can.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! 1966 Broadway production, starring Bob Holiday.

Continuing the pattern of breaking into new forms of entertainment with each decade, Superman flew into the hearts of Broadway musical lovers in 1966 with the production of It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman! This production, starring Bob Holiday as the man of steel, was a light-hearted, pop art kaleidoscope of singing, dancing, and color! 

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! 1966 Broadway production, starring Bob Holiday.

Holiday’s costume, designed for the athletic activity required of musical theatre by Florence Klotz, was certainly the sleekest Superman suit up to that point, with very smooth transitions between garment pieces.  It featured a larger, more theatrical, “S” shield, soft boots, and is the first version to feature a cape tucked into the shirt, attaching within.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! 1966 Broadway production, starring Bob Holiday.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! 1966 Broadway production, starring Bob Holiday.

 

Holiday went on to reprise the role in two revivals and made many appearances as Superman for both live events, television programs, and commercials.  One of his most iconic commercials remains this Aqua Velva spot, seen below.

 

Having now conquered film, television, and the Great White Way, Superman, and his famous suit, were firmly planted as icons of American pop-culture.

 

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! 1966 Broadway production, starring Bob Holiday.

Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season

To view part three of The History of Superman's Suit as a Costume click here...