×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Superman’ Costume Designer Yvonne Blake Dies at 78

MADRID — Yvonne Blake, an Academy Award-winning costume designer and indefatigable recent president of the Spanish Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences, died Tuesday on Madrid having suffered a stroke this January. She was 78.

Manchester-born and a grant-winning student at its Regional College of Art & Design, Blake worked as an intern at costume house Berman’s, becoming an assistant costume designer on Hammer Studios’ underrated “Never Take Sweets from a Stranger,” released in 1960, its 1961 “The Shadow of My Cat” and George Cukor’s “My Fair Lady” (1964).

Also working on François Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Blake talents were rapidly recognized: She had risen to the full status of costume designer by 1966.

Meeting her future husband, Spaniard Gil Carretero, on the set of Richard Quine’s Spain-shot “Gun Crazy,” Blake won an Oscar aged only 31 in 1972, along with Antonio Castillo, for her work on “Nicholas and Alexander,” which brought her back to Spain.

She went on to design costumes in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” returned to Spain for Richard Lester’s “The Three Musketeers” and “The Four Musketeers,” winning the latter’s only Oscar nomination in 1976 – the beginning of a decades-long collaboration and friendship with Lester, which saw her dress Audrey Hepburn – the most elegant of all her actresses, she once said – in “Robin and Marion.”

In 1976, Blake designed the original Superman costume for Christopher Reeve in Richard Donner’s “Superman,” providing notes which were to establish his look for many movie iterations and are her most quoted design: “Leotard in shimmering blue two-way stretch fabric worn over fake muscles and harness for flying. Capes to be made in various flowing fashion for resting. Boots in glove leather or elastic with small heel. ‘S’ motif in red and gold on breast and again in all gold on back of cape. Gold metal belt with ‘S’ buckle.”

By then, however, though big shoots came ever less to Spain, Blake had settled there. An institution in Spain — she won four Spanish Academy Goya Awards for Spanish films, including for “Rowing in the Wind,” starring Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley —  she was elected unopposed as president of the Spanish Academy in 2016.

Charming, ever-smiling, speaking a fluent Spanish if with a heavy English accent which never left her, and a person admired and liked across the board throughout the Spanish industry, she calmed the waters at the Academy after recent polemics and introduced highly sensible reforms, such as the broadening of its membership.

Blake said she never thought of retiring and came to have much more faith in Spanish filmmaking and its industry than many Spaniards.

“I witnessed [Yvonne Blake’s] enormous generosity, passion and dedication. At her age, she chose to work for all of us, took up the reins of the Spanish Academy in difficult times. Her work has been decisive for the new stage of its modernization which we’re now living,” said Mariano Barroso, current Academy president.

Her stroke caught her in her Academy office working, as ever.

More Film

  • Hugh Jackman Sings Happy Birthday to

    Hugh Jackman Leads Massive One-Man Show Crowd in 'Happy Birthday' for Ian McKellen

    Hugh Jackman may have had to skip Ian McKellen’s birthday party to perform his one-man show, “The Man, The Music, The Show,” but that didn’t mean he couldn’t celebrate his “X-Men” co-star’s 80th. Jackman took a moment at the Manchester Arena Saturday to lead the sold-out audience — some 50,000 strong — in a rendition [...]

  • Netflix, Shmetflix: At Cannes 2019, the

    Netflix, Shmetflix: At Cannes 2019, the Movies Needed Every Inch of the Big Screen

    In the May 24 edition of The New York Times, there was a column by Timothy Egan, entitled “The Comeback of the Century: Why the Book Endures, Even in an Era of Disposable Digital Culture,” that celebrated those things that come between two hard covers as a larger phenomenon than mere nostalgia. The column keyed [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Dominates International Box Office With $121 Million

    Disney’s “Aladdin” is showing plenty of worldwide drawing power with $121 million overseas for the weekend, opening in first place in nearly all international markets. The reboot of the 1992 animated classic has received strong family attendance with a significant gain on Saturday and Sunday. China leads the way with an estimated $18.7 million for [...]

  • Aladdin

    Box Office: 'Aladdin' Taking Flight With $105 Million in North America

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” is flying high with an estimated $105 million in North America during the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. It’s the sixth-highest Memorial Day weekend total ever, topping the 2011 mark of $103.4 million for “The Hangover Part II.” The top total came in 2007, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” [...]

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content