Sports Numbers and Their Symbolism | Sports Numbers in Film
| Emblems | Firefighters
| Vehicles and Racing
| Badge Numbers | Prisoners
| Taking a Lickin' | Letters: P, R, I and T
| Sports Wear | Athletes
| Rock Stars | Double Numbers
Clothes: The Wild One - Influence on Comics and Film
| Long Coats | Uniforms and Vehicles
| Leather Jackets in Film | Award Jackets
| Red Leather | Gray Leather
| Sportscasters | Yellow Sweaters and White Shirts
| Mannix | Purple-and-Yellow Costumes
| Boxing and Uniforms in the Mod Era
| Lace-Up Shirts
| Mod Clothes in Comics | Flag Uniforms
| Men in White | White Lab Uniforms
| Car Ads | Stripes
| Dots | Mod Clothes
| Fashion Magazines | BMW Ads
Indexes: White Tie and Tails
| Tuxedos | Daytime Formal Wear
| Trenchcoats | Costume Parties
Taking Care of Business | The Boyfriend School / Don't Tell Her It's Me
| Fixing Pete | The Makeover
Classic Comic Books Home Page (with many articles on comics)
Classic Film and Television Home Page (with many articles on film directors)
Sports Numbers and Their Symbolism
Comic Books Sports Heroes
"Goliath of the Gridiron" (The Brave and the Bold #45, December 1962-January 1963)
is most notable for Carmine Infantino's art.
The splash panel portrait of the transformed hero in his
football uniform is impressive. His uniform is red and white,
like that of so many Infantino heroes, and has the number 9 all over it.
The number 9 on the helmet even shows up in a later silhouette
illustration; it is strongly identified with the hero throughout the story.
Comic book heroes often have such single digit numbers on their
uniforms, usually one with a strong, straight vertical line, such as 1, 4, 7 or 9.
These numbers serve as phallic symbols, and celebrate the heroes' masculinity.
Other tales in the same series Strange Sports Stories have similar numbers:
"The Hot-Shot Hoopsters" (The Brave and the Bold #46, February-March 1963)
has basketball players with such numbers. Joey Bender is #19,
Eddie Tryon is #9, Tommy Felton is #14. Players on the opposing team include #79 and #17.
The main team are in more of Infantino's red-and-white uniforms.
Having sports heroes wear such numbers is an ancient tradition in comics:
- "Challenge of the Headless Baseball Team" (The Brave and the Bold #45, December 1962-January 1963)
has it baseball pitcher hero Lefty as #7, a teammate as #19, and the
villainous other team includes #7, #9, #11 and #17.
- Other players in "Goliath of the Gridiron" are 4, 7, 11, 17, 19.
All team uniforms have numbers on them, but no names.
The opposing team on the splash have flanges on their helmets:
something far more common in comic book heroes than in real-life football teams. These guys are 11 and 17.
The hero's number 9 is a rectilinearly styled number: it is high tech looking,
perhaps linked to computers. The splash shows all the football players on the hero's team
in cleated black leather uniform shoes. These return in the story (pages 5, 8, 9).
The Silver Age tales of The Flash often featured players who were #7.
Art by Carmine Infantino:
- Comic strip ad "Dexter Scores a Victory" (1936)
shows its football player hero wearing number 7 on his jersey.
(This strip, signed Paul Arthur, is reproduced in color in Ron
Goulart's Encyclopedia of Comics.)
- Early comic book sports hero Pep Morgan
is #7 on his baseball team in "Glass Arm" (Action Comics
#2, July 1938), and number 7 on his basketball team in "The
Intercity Basketball Tournament" (Action Comics #10, March
1939), two stories with art by Fred Guardineer.
- "Rip" Rory, a four letter man at State College,
is #11 on his basketball team (Target Comics Vol. 1 No. 3, April
1940), and #11 again on the track team in next month's issue (Target
Comics Vol. 1 No. 4, May 1940). (Rip also wears a double-breasted
suit and swirling long coat over it, in the manner of Alex Raymond's
comic strip hero, Secret Agent X-9.)
- The non-fiction sports series Queer Championships by George Papp features
basketball player #9 (Champion Comics #3, January 1940).
See also a phallic depiction of football star "Red" Grange (Champion Comics #7, May 1940),
and of a man carrying a fish (Champion Comics #2, December 1939).
- Crooks wear football uniforms #7 and #14, and racehorses are #4 and #7, in the
Slam Bradley tale "Refuge for Ruffians" (Detective Comics #80, October 1943).
- Kit Carter, the Cadet, is #44 on his football team (4Most Comics Vol. 5 No. 4, Fall 1946),
a teammate is #1 and opposing team members are #7 and #17.
Cover by Nina Albright, story art by Walter Johnson.
He is #44 on his baseball team at Daunton
(Target Comics Vol. 9 No. 5, July 1948), with art by Nina Albright.
- Teen-age hero Binky wears a sweater with the number 7 on his chest,
in "Binky Says 'Family Projects Can be Fun!'" (Adventure #214, July 1955).
The Binky series consisted of one-page public service messages, giving teens life-style advice.
Binky was the handsome high school hero who had his act together.
This is one of the best of the series; it shows us continuing character
Allergy's family, all of whom look a lot like him, kind hearted and goofy.
- The hero of "The Human Homing Pigeon" (Strange Adventures #69, June 1956)
wears 49 on his football uniform. Members of the opposite team are 7 and 17. Art: Sid Greene.
- The hero of "Super-Athlete from Earth" (Strange Adventures #125, February 1961)
daydreams of success as a football player and basketball star. He wears #7 in both roles.
He evades a tackle by player #4. Art; Gil Kane.
- The football player is #77 in
"Raiders of the Waterless World" (Mystery in Space #56, December 1959).
Art: Gil Kane.
- Comic strip "Big George!" (January 5, 1963) by Virgil Partch shows basketball player #7.
Jimmy Olsen has stories with such numbers. Writer: Otto Binder, Art: Curt Swan:
- The runner in "The Amazing Race Against Time" (The Flash #107, July 1959)
is #7 on Infantino's cover.
- Hero Wally West (Kid Flash) is #7 on his high school basketball team in
"The Challenge of the Crimson Crows" (The Flash #111, February-March 1960).
- The winner of the state track meet is runner #7 in "King of the Beatniks"
(The Flash #114, August 1960).
- At a costume party a man is baseball player #7 (page 9)
and a football player has a large T on his chest (page 12) in "Double Danger on Earth" (The Flash #129, June 1962).
Dick Cole is usually number 9 in his
many sports stories, courtesy of artists Bob Davis before 1942, Jim Wilcox after 1943:
- The magician is contestant #9 in
in "The King of Magic" (Jimmy Olsen #6, July-August 1955).
- Superman gives a demonstration to Metropolis football player #17 in
"The Birdboy of Metropolis" (Jimmy Olsen #26, February 1958).
- A baseball player is #17 in
"The Million-Dollar Mistakes" (Jimmy Olsen #39, September 1959).
- A waiter is #17 in "The Irresistible Jimmy Olsen" (Jimmy Olsen #46, July 1960).
(This tale's writer is Robert Bernstein.)
- Jimmy goes undercover as waiter #7 in "The Disguises of Danger" (Jimmy Olsen #48, October 1960).
(This tale's writer is not known.)
Numbers show up in romance comic books, worn by glamorous heroes:
- His uniform has #9 shoulder patches, at the start of his first tale "Origin of Dick Cole"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 No. 1, June 1940).
- A different uniform has #9 shoulder patches, at the start of "The Stolen Formula"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 No. 3, August 1940).
- Dick is #4 on his hockey team, and a teammate is #11 in "Gangsters and Hockey"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 No. 9, February 1941).
- Dick is #4 on his football team, and his friend Simba is #7 in "Clear, crisp autumn days are here"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 2 No. 6, November 1941).
- Dick is #4 on his hockey team, in "The hockey season has descended upon Farr"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 3 No. 7, December 1942).
- When playing basketball in "The basketball season is in full swing" (Blue
Bolt Comics Vol. 5 No. 7, April 1945), Dick Cole is number 9,
and his equally handsome rival Bark Hall is number 7.
- Dick is #9 again playing basketball in "With only the big Farr-Holden game remaining"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 7 No. 10, March 1947), with a teammate #7, while opponents are #1 and #7.
(His cheating, unsportsman-like opponent Wesley Wimple has a less macho number we can't fully see.)
- Dick is #9 on his lacrosse team in "John Eaglewing, an old Indian, instructs Farr M.A."
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 8 No. 2, July 1947).
- When running in "Dick Cole, winner of last year's cross-country race"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 8 No. 4, September 1947), Dick Cole is number 9, other runners
are #4 and #7, and his opponent is #1.
- The cover depicting a soccer game (Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 6
No. 5, November 1945) shows Dick as number 9, while his macho
opponents from another school are numbers 1, 4 and 7. The inside
tale "Our story opens in a fourth form room at Farr Military Academy" has Dick playing goal for his
soccer team, and wearing number 1; his teammate Slip'ry is #19;
his teammate Simba is #11, and is attacked by an opponent in #4;
teammates are 4 and 7; the opponents also include 1, 7, 9, 11 and 14.
This is one of the rare soccer stories in US comics history.
- While playing basketball again in "The opening of the huge new gymnasium is a gala event"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 8 No. 11, April 1948), in a story by artist
Jack Hearne, Dick Cole is number 9, another player is #1, and we see teammates of his
in the story's last page wearing 4 and 7. In these last two stories,
Bark Hall has been demoted to less macho numbers, being #5 or #6.
- And when Dick Cole goes to Arizona in
"Farr Military Academy, its campus buildings totally destroyed by fire"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 8 No. 8, January 1948), he is rescued by the football team
of Sagebrush High; they wear #19, #11, #97 and #4.
Bob Brown also drew Smallville High quarterback "Bash"
Bradford with the number 7 on his football uniform, in
"The Strange Death of Superboy" (Superboy #161, December 1969).
As in Infantino's "Goliath of the Gridiron", these are
red uniforms with white numbers. The football players have the
extreme muscles of the 1970 era in comics, and virtually look
like a group of super-beings. We first see "Bash" (p2),
where he is triumphing over a player from the opposing team, who
is dressed in a blue uniform, with the number 12 on it. In a second
game (p14), we see one of Bash's teammates, who is equally good
looking, and who wears the number 4. Once again, #7 and #4 are
associated with heroes. In the film Starship Troopers (1997),
the hero wears number 7 for his team, and he fights an opposing
team member in blue wearing number 12, just as in Brown's story.
- See artist Jay Scott Pike's "Play With Fire"
(Girls' Love Stories #178, July - August 1973), where the biker hero's
uniform is number 7. Pike's is one of the sharpest uniforms in the comics.
- The champion motorcycle racer of writer-artist Ric Estrada's
"Wheels of Passion" (Young Romance #162, October - November 1969)
wears the number 9 on his black leather uniform while racing.
Off the course, he wears sharp business suits while interfacing
with his corporate sponsor.
- The seductive motorcyclist in "Ashamed of Her Love"
(Falling in Love #96, January 1968) has license plate 712.
- The romantic quarterback Dan Casey in artist Art Saaf's
"Enemies in Love" (Falling in Love #141, June - July 1973) also wears
a giant number 7 on his football uniform. He's irresistible to the heroine,
even though she's a cheerleader of a rival school's team.
Such numbers continue to appear in later "graphic novels":
Non-comics illustrators also use such numbers:
- The heroine's brother is #79 on his football jersey in
Thom Zahler's Love and Capes, Vol.1 (2008).
Complete Sports liked covers showing a boxer in red trunks knocking out or winning over
a boxer in green or blue trunks. (Nothing to do with numbers.)
- C. Hayes Sprague's cover of the magazine The Pacific Monthly (April 1906)
shows a racecar with a giant 7 on its front.
- Albin Henning's cover of the magazine The American Boy (Vol 112 #11, November 1938)
shows a football player who is #7.
- The cover of the pulp magazine 12 Sports Aces (Vol 1 #2, December 1938)
shows football player #7 making a tackle. His deep blue uniform has white lettering, trim and helmet.
- The cover of the pulp magazine Complete Sports (Vol 2 #4, January 1939)
shows football player #4 making a tackle. The players are leather-helmeted.
- The short story "The 99th Stitch" (Collier's, March 4, 1939) by B.B. Fowler
shows hockey players #14 and #4 (as well as #3), illustrated by Earl Cordrey.
- The cover of 12 Sports Aces (Vol 2 #2, September 1939) shows baseball pitcher #9.
- The cover of 12 Sports Aces (Vol 7 #2, January 1943)
shows hockey player #7 in a spectacular red uniform with yellow lettering and trim.
The uniform has a ring of stars around his neck, yellow circles on his legs,
big yellow-ish gauntlets, and huge black lace-up hockey skates. He's yelling aggressively,
and his yellow hair and yellow hockey stick echo the yellow on his uniform.
- The cover of Ace Sports (Vol 16 #2, January 1948) reuses the same cover painting.
Art: Norm Saunders.
- The cover of Complete Sports (Vol 4 #3, November 1942)
shows football player #76. His patriotic uniform echoes the US Flag: something fairly common in pulp covers.
- The cover of Complete Sports (Vol 5 #2, January 1947)
shows football player #77. His patriotic uniform echoes the US Flag.
It seems like a variation of the Complete Sports 1942 cover. It has an American Eagle on the helmet,
while the earlier uniform displayed pilot's wings.
- The cover of Complete Sports (Vol 7 #10, November 1951)
shows a baseball player uniformed as #1, leaning on his bat.
- The cover of Complete Sports (Vol 8 #3, January 1953)
shows football player #47. His red uniform has white lettering.
- A magazine ad (1941) for Seagram's 7 Crown shows a champion swimmer at a meet, in lane 7.
- The baseball player wears #9 in Norman Rockwell's illustration,
The Peephole (1955).
- The football player on the paperback cover of Come Monday Mornin' (1976)
by Chris Loken wears a giant white #2 on his green jersey.
- The marathon walker on the original paperback cover of The Long Walk (1979)
by "Richard Bachman" (Stephen King) is #47.
- Jim Matthewuse's cover art for the paperback
The Nancy Drew Files Case 45: Out of Bounds (1990) shows a muscular, big-necked
football player suited up as #7. His jersey is bright blue, with a giant white 7.
- The anthology Fifty years of great writing: Sports Illustrated, 1954-2004 (2003)
has a jacket photo of a football quarterback who is #19.
The clean cut white uniforms with horseshoe helmets suggest the Indianapolis Colts.
- A store display for soft drinks (2012) shows two guys photographed in
identically styled baby-blue football jerseys, watching a game on TV.
One is pointing his arm and finger and is #4.
The other is sitting receptively and is #50 on his chest and sleeves.
The black numbers use a high-tech looking font, and the shiny jerseys recall
the "extreme" football outfits that are a current craze.
- The New York Times article "Hut! Hut! Hut! What?" (January 31, 2018)
has an illustration by Chris Morris showing quarterback #14 yelling "Hut!"
Contemporary artist Kurt Lundqvist paints idealized portraits of athletes.
He sometimes uses such numbers:
- A baseball card-like painting of "John Barnes" has him in a shiny gray baseball jacket
holding a matching gray bat. The bat is marked B9. The gray jacket has brilliant red-and-yellow patches and trim.
It is uniform-like in its precise positioning of such insignia.
- "Jack Afield" shows a soccer star in shiny dark-gray shorts with a yellow #9 in athletic-style lettering.
Gray is a favorite Lundqvist color, and he uses it where fashion would often suggest black.
The satin-like fabric of the shorts is smooth.
The star's soccer shirt has vertical yellow and gleaming red stripes. The red stripes have a rubber look.
- A football player is red-and-yellow #78 on his light gray jersey. His red pants match the red of the number.
- A javelin thrower is #17.
Prose fiction uses such numbers:
- Star football player Griff Clark is #17 in Coffin Corner (1949) (end of Chapter 1),
a mystery novel by George Bagby.
17 is described as Clark's "famous number", and he wears it on sweat shirts when not on the field.
- Police cars #7 and #19 report to the crime scene in
The Case of the Grinning Gorilla (1952) (Chapters: end of 7, start of 8),
a Perry Mason mystery novel by Erle Stanley Gardner.
Sports Numbers in Film
Films also use such numbers. In contemporary movies:
The main football player in the music video Let's Hear It For the Boy (1984)
is #1, while his opponent is #77.
The video is directed by Kenny Ortega, who went on to a similar mix of
sports and dancing in High School Musical.
- Paul Newman wears #7 as the hockey player in Slap Shot (1977).
- Michael Keaton is #9 and David Letterman is #14 in a musical number on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979).
- Tim Matheson is #11 on his soccer team, and his friend is #7, in Listen to Your Heart (1983).
- Robert Redford is #9 on his baseball team in The Natural (1984).
- The romantic hero Michael O'Keefe of The Slugger's Wife
(1985) wears number 4 on his Atlanta Braves uniform.
- Michael Keaton is #9 on his hockey uniform in Touch and Go (1986).
- Richard Dean Anderson is #9 on his hockey uniform in the MacGyver episode Jack of Lies (1986).
- In Johnny Be Good (1988), football hero Anthony Michael Hall wears number 9 ,
both on his blue-and-gold uniform, and his Varsity Jacket.
- Mark Harmon is #9 on his baseball team in Stealing Home (1988).
- Charlie Sheen is #99 as a baseball player in Major League (1989).
- Douglas Barr is #1 on his polo team in Terminal Connection (1991), an episode of Murder, She Wrote.
- Timothy Busfield is #4 on the Minnesota Twins baseball team
in Little Big League (1994), while teammate Anthony Lewis
Todd is #11, Scott Patterson is #19, and Jonathan Silverman is #49.
- Michael Lowry wears a #11 football jersey on the beach in the Diagnosis Murder
episode The Last Laugh (1996).
- Anthony Addabbo is #7 on his hockey team in The Hockey Show (1996), an episode of The Nanny.
- Adam Sandler is #9 on his football team in The Waterboy (1998).
- Dean Cain is #44 on his baseball team in The Broken Hearts Club (2000).
- Brett Cullen is #7 as the star quarterback in The Replacements (2000).
- Jim Carrey wears #11 on his hockey jersey in Bruce Almighty (2003).
- Ryan Gosling is #9 on his football team in The Slaughter Rule (2003).
- Tom Welling, who stars as Superboy in the TV series Smallville, wears #7 as the football quarterback.
- Jay Hernandez is #4 in Friday Night Lights (2004),
and his football team wears a large P on their helmets and jackets.
- Baseball player Mike is #14 in the music video of Jay Spears'
song I Like Mike (2004), directed by Matthew Herrier.
- Opponent Captain Knauer (William Fichtner) is #19 on his football team in
The Longest Yard (2005). Brian Bosworth is #44 on the same team.
The uniforms are white with black numbers outlined in white.
The team logo on their helmets is a badge, signifying they are the prison guards team.
On the job the guards wear uniform baseball caps with badge logos.
They also have gray dress uniforms with peaked caps and big black leather Sam Browne harness belts.
All the metal on the uniforms is gold: the belt and leather harness buckles, badges, buttons, nametags, metal whistles.
- Rob Schneider is first #7, then officially #44 on his baseball
team in The Benchwarmers (2006).
- Channing Tatum is #7 as the soccer team captain in his red Adidas uniform in She's the Man (2006).
- Zac Efron is #14 as the basketball team captain in High School Musical (2006).
- Shaun Sipos is #7 as the football quarterback in Comeback Season (2006).
- David Conrad wears a large silver #7 on the front and back of his black tee shirt, in the
The Woman of His Dreams episode of Ghost Whisperer (2006).
- George Clooney is #7 on his football team in Leatherheads (2008).
- Rob Brown wears #44 as football player Ernie Davis in The Express (2008),
as Davis did in real life.
- Colin Farrell is #9 on his police football team at the start of Pride and Glory (2008).
For an amateur team, these guys have full professional uniforms.
- The high school football player is #11 at the start of Always and Forever (2009).
- Taylor Lautner plays a "back-up back-up" football quarterback in a #7 jersey in a sketch
with Bill Hader on Saturday Night Live (2009).
- Josh Henderson is #7 as the star college football player in the
Bloodsport (2009) episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
- Matthew Morrison wore a #17 Mets shirt while singing the national anthem before a Mets baseball game (2010).
- Treat Williams is #9 on his football team in Spiraling Down (2011), an episode of
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
- The entire police baseball team wears #4 on their uniforms, in Stroll on the Wild Side (2012),
an episode of Murdoch Mysteries.
- William Buchanan is #7 as the obnoxious leader of his football team in Abel's Field (2012).
- Aaron Hill is #41 on his baseball team in Control (2013), an episode of Franklin & Bash.
- Zachary Gordon wears a #14 football jersey in Pete's Christmas (Nisha Ganatra, 2013).
- Franz Drameh is #14 on his football team in The Fury of Firestorm (2015), an episode of
- Marcus Rosner is #99 on his hockey jersey in Firehouse Christmas (George Erschbamer, 2016).
- James Rittinger (James Swalm) is briefly seen as #4 on his football team in A Time to Dance (2016).
- K.J. Apa, starring as Archie in the TV series Riverdale (2017), is #9 on his football team.
He also wears the giant R on his award jacket, that Archie wears in the original comic books.
Teammates wear #4 and #77.
- Basketball players in Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts (2017)
are #1 (James Swalm) and #9 (Matt Visser). We also glimpse player #4, prominent in the first game, #7 and #19.
Perhaps unexpectedly, such numbers appear in works by international directors:
Older films also used such numbers:
- Ian Charleson is #7 and 14 in his early running triumphs; Ben Cross is 419
during the Olympics, in Chariots of Fire (1981).
- The prison van bringing the mail in L'Argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)
has license plate number 97409 DE.
- Tiger (Hui-Kuo Chou) is #7 on his basketball team in A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991),
while a teammate is #11.
- The jock rival in Patrice Leconte's Intimate Strangers (2003) wears #7.
- The hero of Guys and Balls (Sherry Hormann, 2004) is #1 on his soccer
team, his boyfriend is #11, and his main opponent is #9.
- The stolen hockey jersey is #11 in My Winnipeg
(Guy Maddin, 2007).
- A passerby wears a #9 shirt in Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)
- Wallace Reid is #11 in the auto race in The Roaring Road (James Cruze, 1919).
He wears the number on his racing suit, and it is also on his car. Other cars include #4, #7.
- In Excuse My Dust (Sam Wood, 1920), the sequel to The Roaring Road,
in the auto race Wallace Reid is #1, his sympathetic boss Theodore Roberts is #9 and the villains drive both #2 and #4.
Hero Reid eventually takes over car #4. His boss is also driving #9 in an old photo.
- The hero's macho rival on the Harvard football team (Francis X. Bushman, Jr.) is #17 in Brown of Harvard (Jack Conway, 1926).
(The hero has the non-macho number 30.) And at Yale the top player is #19 (apparently young John Wayne in his first film role).
This Yale player takes part in the coin toss that starts the game.
During the storm, the hero and other men wear shiny full-length slickers.
- In So This Is College (Sam Wood, 1929) football hero Robert Montgomery (his first big role) is #17 for USC;
his best friend Elliott Nugent is #15; and their Stanford opponents in the Big Game are #4, 7, 9 and 11.
- In Huddle (Sam Wood, 1932)
Ramon Novarro is #44 on the Yale football team, and his best friend John Arledge is #9.
- Don Dillaway is football player #19, seen in a photograph in
Attorney for the Defense (Irving Cummings, 1932).
- Count Vronsky (Fredric March) is #7 in the horse race in Anna Karenina
(Clarence Brown, 1935).
- The jockey is #4 in the horse race in Harnessed Rhythm
(Jacques Tourneur, 1936).
- Ronald Sinclair is jockey #9 in the final horse race in Thoroughbreds Don't Cry
(Alfred E. Green, 1937), while rival Frankie Darro
is #4, and another rival is #7.
- Crawford Weaver is #14 on his college football team in Saturday's Heroes (Edward Killy, 1937);
a colleague in the final Big Game is #4, and major players on the opposing team are #41 and #4 (who never gets in the game).
- George Murphy is #79 as a football hero in the opening montage of
Hold That Co-Ed (George Marshall, 1938). He soon becomes a coach.
- Lloyd Nolan is #19 on his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in
It Happened in Flatbush (Ray McCarey, 1942).
- The jockey (Stanley Clements) is #7 and #11 in his two major horse races in
Salty O'Rourke (Raoul Walsh, 1945).
- Johnny Sands' basketball team center wears #7 in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947).
- Baseball players wear #4, 14, 44, 7, 17 and 9 in It Happens Every Spring
(Lloyd Bacon, 1949).
- Football player Sonny Tufts is #44
in Easy Living (Jacques Tourneur, 1949).
- John Derek is #44 on his college football team in Saturday's Hero (David Miller, 1951).
- Paul Douglas is #41 and Bruce Bennett is #17 on the Pittsburgh Pirates
in Angels in the Outfield (Clarence Brown, 1951),
while the team members all wear P on their baseball caps, and a giant P on their team jackets.
- Gene Nelson is #14 as the football quarterback in
She's Working Her Way Through College (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1952).
- The football player often partnered with Debbie Reynolds in
the movie musical I Love Melvin (1953) is #14.
- Gig Young is rodeo rider #97 in Arena (Richard Fleischer, 1953).
- Patrick Wayne is #4 on his New York Yankees baseball uniform in Rookie of the Year
(John Ford, 1955).
- Huntz Hall is #4 as a jockey in Up in Smoke (1957).
- Ray Danton is #11 in his dance contest in The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
(Budd Boetticher, 1960).
- When detective Kookie (Edd Byrnes) goes undercover on a college football team,
he is #14, in The College Caper (1961), an episode of 77 Sunset Strip.
- Jim Hutton is #44 in the big walking competition in Walk, Don't Run (1966).
- Alan Alda is #17 on the Detroit Lions football team in Paper Lion (Alex March, 1968).
- Elvis Presley is #11 as a football player in a scene in The Trouble with Girls (Peter Tewksbury, 1969).
- James Caan is #41 as football player Brian Piccolo in Brian's Song (Buzz Kulik, 1971).
- Rodeo star Steve McQueen climbs bullpen #4 at the start of Junior Bonner (Sam Peckinpah, 1972).
- John Beck is #9 on the futuristic sports team in Rollerball (1975).
The team uniforms include black leather pants and leather gloves with silver spikes.
- The movie 61* (2001) is about the real life attempt
by New York Yankee baseball stars Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle
to break Babe Ruth's home run record. The men were #9 and #7 in
real life, and the numbers are highly featured in the film, and
in the poster for the movie. Maris and Mantle wore their numbers when they played themselves
in Safe at Home! (Walter Doniger, 1962), and William Frawley was #17.
- A similar approach was used in the movie Varsity Blues (1999),
where the two football heroes of the film wear number 4 and number 7.
The team uniforms in Varsity Blues also
contain a large number 1 within Texas-shaped patches, indicating
they are the Texas state champions. The number 1 stands up within
the Texas panhandle at the top of the logo. A similar number 1
is outlined in a football logo on their award jackets.
- When Varsity Blues was spoofed in a segment of
Not Another Teen Movie (2001), the numbers 4 and 7 were kept
for the characters' football jerseys.
- The Psych episode Any Given Friday Night at 10PM, 9PM Central (2009)
has comic hero Shawn first in #44 then in #99
undercover at football training camp, and his buddy Gus as #7.
The episode Shawn Gets the Yips (2009) shows the heroes playing for the
police baseball team: Shawn is #44, Gus is #41. The episode Dead Man's Curveball (2011)
has Shawn as #44 on the police team, and Gus as team mascot #41 on the Seabirds baseball team.
Numbers show up on other places than athletic uniforms, such as emblems:
- Heroes Wallace Beery and George Raft wear #74 on their Army hats in
The Bowery (Raoul Walsh, 1933).
- Guy Madison's Marine in the film Till the End of Time
(1946) wears a shoulder patch with a 1, on his uniform.
- The Marines in the film In Love and War (1958) wear
shoulder patches with a large shiny gold 4 on a red background.
- William Lundigan in the film Love Nest (1951) wears a patch
with 1 on one shoulder, and a patch
with an erect sword on the other, on his Army uniform.
- The TV station covering the big event in Ride the Wild Surf (1964)
is Channel 9. It is on their equipment and shirts.
- The leather jacketed tough guy on the cover of Supergirl #6
(August 1973) wears a shoulder patch depicting a clenched fist,
as well as a 2 turned on its side below - art by Bob Oksner.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme wears 44 on his military vest in Universal Soldier (Roland Emmerich, 1992).
- Hook and Ladder No. 9 (F. Harmon Weight, 1927) is a silent movie melodrama about firefighters.
- Fireman Fred Farrell in his sole comic book (Showcase #1, March-April 1956) wears #11 on his huge helmet.
A rival firefighter Red Miller is #7 in "The School for Smoke-Eaters".
A firehouse in "Fourth Alarm" is "Hook and Ladder Co. No. 77".
Writer: Arnold Drake. Art: John Prentice.
- The firefighter wears a large black 2 on his helmet, and aims a phallic water cannon, on the cover illustration
by Herbert Morton Stoops of the short story "One More Hero" by "Captain Michael Gallister",
The Blue Book Magazine (v68 #1, November 1938). Part of the "Fireboat Men" series.
- A firefighter wears a large 2 on his helmet in
"The Phantom Thief" (Mr. District Attorney #18, November-December 1950).
- The firefighters all wear 7 on their helmets in "The Fat Boy of Metropolis"
(Jimmy Olsen #49, December 1960).
- William Boyett played Chief McConnike, Battalion 14 on the TV series Emergency! (1976-1978).
- Barry Van Dyke's firefighting team in the Diagnosis Murder episode
Malibu Fire (1997) wear 119 on their helmets.
- The firefighters in the film Ladder 49 (2004) wear team number 49 on their helmets.
- The head firefighter in the commercial What if Firefighters Ran the World? (2008)
wears department #9 on his helmet.
- Firefighters wear #17 on their helmets in the Life on Mars episode
Revenge of Broken Jaw (2009).
- The hero Matt Bomer of the White Collar episode
At What Price (2013) disguises himself as a firefighter with #177 on his helmet.
He also carries a huge red ax.
- The fire engine is #17 in the TV-film The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014).
Vehicles and Racing
- Wallace Reid is #11 in the auto race in The Roaring Road (James Cruze, 1919).
He wears the number on his racing suit, and it is also on his car. Other vehicles are 4, 7, 14.
- Jimmy Cagney drives racecar #1 in The Crowd Roars
(Howard Hawks, 1932).
- The race car driver hero of Edward Sedgwick's
movie Burn Em Up O'Connor (1938) is number 7 on his car in his first big race.
- The driver in the similarly named movie serial Burn 'Em Up Barnes (1934)
is associated with racecar #4.
- Clark Gable's racecar is #17 in To Please a Lady (Clarence Brown, 1950).
- Dick Cole drives race car #14 at the start of his first tale "Origin of Dick Cole"
(Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 1 No. 1, June 1940).
- Ragsy Murphy's toy racecar is #4 in The Chameleon tale
"Pete and Ragsy Murphy -- the orphan lad who helped Pete recover his fortune" (Target Comics #23, January 1942).
- In Douglas Sirk's film
The Tarnished Angels (1958), pilot Robert Stack races in plane 17, then in plane #1.
- Race cars featured in the movie Grand Prix (1966) have
numbers like 4, 7, 14 and 17.
- Elvis Presley drives racecar #7 in Viva Las Vegas (George Sidney, 1964).
- Elvis Presley drives boat #99 in the big race in Clambake (Arthur H. Nadel, 1967).
- Robert Redford's racing motorcycle is #191 in the film Little Fauss and Big Halsey (1970).
- The racecar driver hero in the music video "Take On Me" is number 77.
- The animal that wins the race is #9 in "The Case of the Counterfeit Credits"
(Strange Adventures #119, August 1960).
- A pinup drawn by Jay Scott Pike has its heroine posed on the hood of a sexy blue racecar.
The car is #19 and has a big T in front, a jaunty erect checkered flag and various phallic logos on the door.
- Carlos Reutemann drove #17 for Ferrari in the real-life race Grand Prix West (1978).
See article "Readying a Red Takeover", Sports Illustrated 4-10-1978.
- A Corvette in the real-life 1967 Le Mans race was #9. A Corvette in the 1973 Le Mans was #49.
An L88 Corvette that raced in Le Mans 1968-1973 was #137. An L88 Corvette at 1973 Daytona was #4.
- A spoof commercial (2002) in the series "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?",
with men lured into embarrassing behaviors and situations to get a Klondike Bar.
Racecar driver Jeff Burton is lured into diving a tiny kiddie car with 99 on its side.
The fancy car's colors match his racing uniform.
As usual in this series of commercials, the spokesman who does the luring is well-dressed in a suit.
All you ever see of him is his arm and hand. The spokesman is skilled at using both words and hand gestures.
The spokesman always turns into an authority figure who gives orders and
evaluates the lured man's behavior and task performance.
- Space pilot Dan Dare's helicopter is number "SF 171"
in the futuristic British comic strip (Eagle #3, April 28, 1950).
- In the series of Star Rovers tales,
Rick Purvis' space ship is number 711, while Homer Glint's is NC419913.
In "Who Saved the Earth?" (Mystery in Space #80, December 1962) (top of page 4)
Rick Purvis' solar sailboat is RP 711.
- Green Lantern test-pilots rocket plane X-77 in
"Starro the Conquerer" (The Brave and the Bold #28, February-March 1960),
the first Justice League of America tale.
- Green Lantern's sports car has license plate "PJ 19" in
"Pay Up -- Or Blow Up" (Green Lantern #31, September 1964).
- Series hero Oogie Pringle rides a motorcycle with license plate 397 on the cover of
A Date With Judy #29 (June-July 1952).
- The hero's vehicle in the car chase is #1 in the Danger Man episode Such Men Are Dangerous (1965).
- The hero's dodge-em car is #17, in "Boy Crazy" (Young Romance #2, November-December 1947). Art: Jack Kirby.
- The truck in Buyer Beware (Joseph M. Newman, 1940) has ID number 47 on its door.
- The hero Matt Shade (Jason Priestley) of the TV series Private Eyes (2016) has license plate SHADE 17.
- The newsman hero drives a car of his paper the Illustrated Press, with initials IP on the door, in
"The Dangerous Coat of Dan Brewster" (Big Town #48, November-December 1957) (page 7).
- The crane in the NY Naval Shipyard in On the Town (1949) is #97.
- The Police Harbor Patrol boat is PD-7 in "Hot Money" (Gang Busters #1, December 1947 - January 1948).
- The boat is #17 in "Four Worlds to Conquer" (Justice League of America #26, March 1964) (page 2).
- The Coastal Patrol boat is #4 in The Chameleon tale "Look, Slim!" (Target Comics #15, May 1941).
- The U-boat is U-4 in a Dick Cole tale "Who Is Dick Cole?" (4Most Comics #1, Winter 1942).
- The U-boat in Seas Beneath (John Ford, 1931) was U172.
The 2 is written in a stylized script, making it look as jutting as the 1 and 7.
- The train in Rio Lobo (Howard Hawks, 1970) has engine #17.
- The plane in Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970) is named "Lilly 7".
- The train in Breakheart Pass (Tom Gries, 1975) has engine #9.
- The hero and his brother are underneath a double sign saying 4 at a train station, in
"Rival Heart" (Girls' Love Stories #54, May 1958). The hero is #40 on his football team, other players are #9, #11, #17, #19. Art: Mike Sekowsky.
- The giant spacemen is near Pier 7 in "The Mystery of Spaceman X"
(Justice League of America #20, June 1963) (page 8).
He wears phallic designs on the front of his helmet, and his belt.
- The opening shoot-out is at San Francisco's Pier 41 in The Lineup (Don Siegel, 1958).
- The villain's yacht is at Pier 17 in Skidoo (Otto Preminger, 1968).
- Police Car 17 (Lambert Hillyer, 1933) is a crime film.
- Car 99 (Charles Barton, 1935) is a film about the Michigan State Police.
- The phallic-looking gas tank on the police motorcycle in "Riot Call"
is marked P.D. 45, for Police Department. Magazine illustration (1933) by Herbert Paus.
- The police in the comic book series Radio Squad
drive patrol car number K-7.
- Steve Carson in the first episode "The Manning Baby Kidnapping" (New Comics #2, January 1936)
of the comic book series Federal Men rides in police car 7.
- The policeman-of-the-future's flying vehicle is number 47, on the science fiction magazine cover (Galaxy, May 1956).
A phallic radio antenna sticks up from the side of his helmet. The artist signs himself Tocchet.
- A police squad car is #7, from the 9th Precinct, in
"The Case of the Living Counterfeit" (Mr. District Attorney #9, May-June 1949) (page 3).
- A police car has license "P.D. 11" in
"Where Is Marvyn Moon?" (Mr. District Attorney #13, January-February 1950) (page 2).
- Another police car has license "P.D. 72" in
"A Medal for Pop Grogan" (Mr. District Attorney #19, January-February 1951) (page 2).
- A police squad car is #14 in
"I Hired My Killer" (Mr. District Attorney #25, January-February 1952) (page 9).
- A fake police motorcycle is #49 in
"I Was an Eyewitness to Murder" (Big Town #17, September-October 1952) (page 4).
- Hero Mitch Taylor drives police car #4 in the short story collection P as in Police
by Lawrence Treat.
- The police car in the beautifully drawn print ad "1979 Dodge Police Vehicles" has badge 17 on its door, and license plate 1979.
- The policeman hero's squad car is 749 in City That Never Sleeps (John H. Auer, 1953).
- The hero's police car in the film The Killer Is Loose
(Budd Boetticher, 1956) is #17.
- The fake police car is #41 in the film The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Roger Corman, 1967).
- Real-life Navy Captain Brett Crozier is photographed in his leather uniform jacket addressing his sailors,
with a giant 71 on the ship wall behind him. He's holding a phallic microphone. The iconography is associated with rock stars:
uniforms, leather, phallic symbols, a man communicating with an admiring crowd while standing in an elevated position.
He seems to be the only man in the crowd in leather. The 71 is outlined in light bulbs, so it likely can light up at night.
Crozier is also photographed in Navy dress blue uniforms. They make him look like an authority figure.
- Soap opera star Tom Eplin's publicity photos show him as a pilot.
His fancy leather flight jacket has the phallic number 77 on a huge round patch on his chest.
This seems to be a naval aviator jacket made by the Avirex company.
Other US Navy style patches include one based on the real-life patch for the destroyer U.S.S. William H. Standley.
The jacket's badge-shaped patch reads "U.S.S. William M. Standle", two letters different.
The middle letter M even looks like an H.
The jacket patch has a close-but-slightly-enhanced version of the dramatic phallic logo of the real-life patch.
The central prong has been rounded at the top, to make it look even more phallic.
And the side prongs are now taller, with sharper points. They look dangerous and aggressive.
There is also a state-flag-style patch celebrating Dallas, Texas.
A variant on this jacket has a round patch for the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, with a 69 on its flight deck.
- The Avirex naval flyer jackets are really sexy. Tom Cruise wore another variant of them in Top Gun (1986).
Both he and Eplin wore blue shirts under the jackets, extending the bright "primary colors" of the jacket patches.
- The real-life jackets were first worn by US Navy and Marine flyers in World War II, and by the Flying Tigers.
First known as M-422A, they got their best-known G-1 name in 1947,
and their Navy Bureau of Aeronautics spec. 7823 (AER) in 1951.
These precise numbers are often inscribed inside replica jackets.
- Actor Trevor Donovan appears in a magazine photo in a black (or very dark brown) leather flight jacket.
It has a tag marked with pilot's wings, the word LEADER, and the large number 1.
This part of the Aeronautica Militare Pilot series, which often have such insignia.
Donovan wears it with a white tee shirt and sunglasses, giving it an aggressive 1950's look.
- Model Eric Belanger is photographed leaning on a white motorcycle, parked beneath a sign reading #17.
- The comic book detective hero 711
wears these numbers on the back of his costume.
- The same year, police Officer 711 was a character in the film
Johnny Eager (Mervyn LeRoy, 1941).
- Edmund O'Brien was number 141 on his telephone company badge in
711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950).
- Jack Webb's badge number on Dragnet was 714.
- Martin Milner's badge number on Adam-12 was 744.
Adam-12 is set in the same "universe" as Dragnet.
- A policeman wearing badge 777 has his uniform stolen in a
Dick Cole tale
"Summertime -- And at the home of Dick's guardian" (Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 3 No. 3, August 1942).
- Policeman Dan McGarry carries badge 777 in the short story "Where's the Fire, McGarry?"
in The Famous McGarry Stories by Matt Taylor.
- "The Super-Luck of Badge 77" (Superman #133, November 1959)
is a comic book story in which Superman takes on the role of a policeman.
- A policeman wears badge 716 on his cap in "The Origin of the Justice League"
(Justice League of America #9, February 1962) (page 4).
- The giant police badge is number 671712 on the splash panel of
"Badge of Courage" (Big Town #4, April 1951).
- Robert Vaughn wears badge 11 on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968).
- The hero Matt Bomer of White Collar disguised himself as policeman 87967.
- Stephen Bradley plays Officer 1440 in Migrant Workers (1957),
an episode of the TV series Highway Patrol, a series about State Troopers.
- Matt Moore plays Officer 4434 in the silent film thriller Traffic in Souls (1913).
- Conductor 1492 (1924) is a silent comedy about a streetcar conductor, with story by and starring Johnny Hines.
- Take Your Time (Lloyd Bacon, 1925) is a comedy short
starring Ralph Graves as traffic policeman Officer 999.
- Officer "444" (Francis Ford and Ben F. Wilson, 1926) is a silent film serial about a heroic policeman.
- In Straight Is the Way (1934) ex-con Franchot Tone is surrounded by two policemen.
One officer's uniform cap has number 1195.
- Agent 47 is the star of the video game series Hitman, beginning in 2000, and its film adaptations.
- In "Here Come the Wild Ones" (Strange Adventures #160, January 1964) (page 11),
Murphy Anderson pictures the villainous Kadey in a sharp blue uniform with the number 1 in a circle on it.
Kadey's men all wear identical uniforms, with different numbers in the circles. We see #2 and #6.
- Sergeant Jack Driscoll (played by Owen McDonnell) in the Irish TV cop series
Single-Handed (2007-2010) wears insignia 414 on his police uniform epaulettes.
- Jeremy Renner wears a Boston Police uniform with Badge 9120 in The Town (2010).
The uniform jackets are shiny black and glazed looking, and are fastened with both zippers and snaps.
They have large stand-up collars.
They are worn with uniform peaked caps with highly reflective shiny visors, and equally reflective sunglasses.
- Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) in the TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (2012-2015)
wears a leather police helmet with numbers 1284.
- Series character policeman Sergeant Goodfellow (John Burton) wears 411 on his epaulettes
in the TV series Father Brown (2014-2020).
- Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) is about a genetically engineered hitman.
- OSS 117 is the codename of the spy hero of a series of novels by Jean Bruce.
The character appeared in films and comics, too.
- There are probably other examples. After all, James Bond's spy number was 007.
- The handsome young cop who handcuffs heroine Hildegarde Withers
in The Plot Thickens (Ben Holmes, 1936) wears #14 on his collar.
- John Ridgely wears precinct number 7 on the collar insignia
of his police uniform in the mystery film Blondes at Work (1938).
- The police hero wears 17 on his collar in "The Vigil of Patrolman Crowell"
(Gang Busters #12, October-November 1949) (page 7). Art: Curt Swan.
- Laurence Olivier wears number 94B on the collar of his constable's uniform
in The Magic Box (1951).
- The police wear #17 on the collars and lapels of various uniforms in
"The Cry-Baby of Metropolis" (Lois Lane #10, July 1959) (page 7).
It is likely their precinct number.
- A policeman who the Midas Touch has turned to shiny gold, wears #94 on his fancy uniform collar on the cover
"Meet Mr. Meek" (Tales of Suspense #36, December 1962). Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Jack Kirby.
The glossy gold cop is in a traditional traffic cop's uniform, with gloves and a high-peaked cap.
He's blowing a whistle. And making a commanding gesture with his gloved hand.
By contrast, hero Ralph is in a really good gray business suit.
- Perry King and Dorian Harewood wear 9 on the collar of their New York police uniforms in
Foster and Laurie (1975).
- Clancy Brown, Bruce Abbott and others wear 14 on the collar of their
jet-black police dress uniforms in Johnny Ryan (Robert L. Collins, 1990) (see 1:28 to 1:30).
The uniforms have very long coats, and a V-array of ten silver buttons pointing up to their shoulders.
Long coats for men have a swaggering effect, and were popular in the 1990's.
Black uniform caps with shiny black visors are pulled down to shade the policemen's eyes.
The officers wear dark gray uniform leather gloves.
The first 32 minutes of this cops-versus-gangsters film are good; then it takes a wrong turn into bad material.
- Constable George Crabtree wears 4 on his collar in the TV series Murdoch Mysteries,
standing for Station House 4.
- The police station is number 1169 in It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934).
- The Parole Board is #14 in
"The People vs. Killer Kale" (Mr. District Attorney #7, January-February 1949).
- The private eyes have their office at 77 Sunset Strip,
which is also the name of their TV series.
- The federal agents in Samuel Fuller's film
Underworld U.S.A. (1961) have office 941.
- The private eye hero's office number is 47 in
Mysterious Intruder (William Castle, 1946).
- The private eye hero's office number is 17 in Mannix.
- The precinct Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the setting of the police TV comedy.
- Zone 414 (2021) is a film thriller.
- A student in late 1956 wears a sweater with a giant "1957" in front, on the cover of
Girls in Love #56 (October 1956).
- J. Warren Kerrigan plays an escaped convict in No. 99 (Ernest C. Warde, 1920).
- Tom Keene is prisoner 7734 in The Godless Girl (Cecil B. DeMille, 1929).
- Richard Arlen is prisoner #4 in Thunderbolt (Josef von Sternberg, 1929).
- Chester Morris is prisoner 44789 in The Big House (1930).
- A mug shot of a gangster is numbered 14171 in The Star Witness (1931).
- Convict 401 takes a hostage on a pulp magazine cover (Ten Detective Aces, March 1938).
A handsome well-built uniformed guard is coming to the rescue. Art: Norman Saunders.
- James Dean is prisoner 41113 in Sing-Sing in the Studio One episode Sentence of Death (1953).
- Burt Lancaster is prisoner 14731 in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).
- Jerry Lewis is prisoner RK17349 in a mug shot in The Big Mouth (1967).
- The hero Bradley Cooper is #4 in a police lineup in Limitless (2011).
- A grinning, cocky Rip Torn is #4 in a police lineup in The Kiss-Off (1961),
an episode of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
- Batman goes undercover as prisoner 104777 in
"Underground Railroad of Crime" (Detective Comics #154, December 1949).
- Clark Kent is prisoner 1774533 in "Clark Kent--Convict" (Superman #83, July-August 1953).
- Reformed convict Johnny Star is number 17017 in
"The Man Who Stole Steve Wilson's Face" (Big Town #39, May-June 1956) (page 4).
- Crook Clyde Burson becomes prisoner No. 411723 in
"The Crime Warden" (Mr. District Attorney #16, July-August 1950).
Later the DA becomes prisoner No. 13726.
- A convict in a prison manufacturing site is holding license plate UI-72-17.
His own chest number is not fully visible, but begins with 7.
A second convict is near a plate that begins 721. A well-built, sharply uniformed guard watches the men from above.
(Mr. District Attorney #58, July-August 1957). Art: Ruben Moreira.
Taking a Lickin'
A number of comic book stories seem influenced by the movie comedy
The Freshman (1925). Like that film, they show the hero
initially being the worst player on the football team, before
eventually going on to win the big game. The heroes of these tales
usually get defeated by much better players in the
early stages, and these better football players wear the symbolic numbers.
In The Freshman, the captain of the football team
wears #1 during practice, while hero Harold Lloyd wears 0.
The hapless college football substitute quarterback hero (Ralph Graves)
runs the wrong way down the field, losing the big game, at the start of
the movie Flight (Frank Capra, 1929).
The entire stadium laughs at him, including his future commander, a Marine in dress uniform.
One of the opponents who tackles him is #17.
The hero wears the non-macho number 32.
In the origin of the Flash (Flash Comics #1, January 1940),
hero Jay Garrick is tackled by a better player wearing #7,
while another football player laughs at him.
He is also chewed out by his coach and his girlfriend.
In the movie Johnny Be Good (1988),
the hero's comic sidekick (Robert Downey, Jr.) is made to wear the less macho number 3,
in contrast to the hero's aggressive #9.
This is a common strategy to express subordination.
The hero (Anthony Michael Hall) also has 9 on the left sleeve of his varsity jacket,
as well as on his sports uniform chest and shoulders. The sidekick has 3 on his jacket.
These serve as a constant reminder of the duo's numbers.
In his origin story (Nova #1, September 1976), before he becomes
a superhero, high school student Richard Rider loses the game
for his basketball team. Rider is #4, and he's chewed out by team
member #7. Art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott.
Real-life star baseball pitcher Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers was forced to wear
a Dallas Cowboys football uniform after losing a bet to teammate Mike Adams on a Giants-Cowboys game in 2012;
Nathan supported the Giants, but his team lost.
Nathan had to wear a complete replica uniform of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo,
from helmet and shoulder pads down to cleated shoes. The uniform had Romo's name and number 9 on it.
Joe Nathan was forced to wear the Cowboys uniform for a day of his team's batting practice,
followed by signing autographs for a long line of fans.
Joe Nathan himself included the publicly televised autograph episode in the bet.
Nathan: "I regret that I added that. It feels just like I thought it would - absolutely terrible."
Adams: "I'm extremely pleased. This is probably the best bet I've ever won in my entire life. This is up there".
Note: Nathan actually looks great in the Cowboys uniform. It is clearly carefully tailored and fitted to him.
Reportedly Cowboys equipment manager Mike McCord helped out with the gear.
Such phallic symbol letters as P, R and T are also frequently
worn by athletes in film and comics.
- In the Harold Lloyd silent comedy The Freshman (1925),
the captain of the football team wears #1 during practice, and
players #7 and #9 are featured prominently in the big game at
the end. Everyone at school also wears a giant letter T on the
center front of their sweaters: they are at Tate University, a
fictitious name probably chosen for its initial letter T.
- The college musical Good News appeared on Broadway
in 1927. Both of its film versions (1930, 1947) are set at Tait
College. In the 1947 film, its football player hero wears a giant
T on the front of his school sweater, and is #1 on his football uniform.
- A football player going canoeing wears a huge T on the front of his sweater
in Eleven Men and a Girl (William Wellman, 1930).
- College athlete James Ellison in the film Sorority Girl
(1939) wears a giant T on his school sweater.
- The football players wear sweaters with a giant T with an S and U down at its base
in Pigskin Parade (David Butler, 1936).
- The coach of the Tigers football team in Abel's Field (2012) has a T on his cap.
- The baseball team in Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery (2015) wear T on their caps.
- In the film State Fair (1945), Dick Haymes displays
a giant I on his school sweater, for Iowa.
- Gordon Macrae also wears a large I on his school sweater in
On Moonlight Bay (Roy Del Ruth, 1951), for Indiana.
- A student astride a bike wears a sweater with a giant L in front,
in Charles and Ray Eames' science documentary Eratosthenes (1961).
- Freddie Prinze, Jr. wears a large H on his team award jacket in She's All That (1999).
The jacket is black with white sleeves and letter.
- So do the basketball team in Hoosiers (1993).
- In the movie musical Grease 2 (1982), the athletes
at Rydell High wear giant red R's on their award jackets. And
the biker members of the T-Birds have large white T's on the back
of their black leather motorcycle jackets. These built on costumes for the
original Grease (1978).
- The college musical Sweetie (Frank Tuttle, 1929) takes place at Pelham;
the men all wear matching school sweaters with a giant P on their chest.
- The football players also wear P on their school sweaters
in the musical Too Many Girls (1940).
- In Chuck Jones' cartoon satire The Dover Boys at Pimento University
(1942), the athletic hero wears a large red P on his sweater.
- Jody McCrea wears a P on his school sweater in Beach Party (1963).
- The college athlete wears a P on his school sweater in
Warning: Live Blueberries (1967), an episode of the TV series Mannix.
He plays for Pacific State, a fictional school. The local police wear extra-shiny black leather uniform jackets.
- The football players in the film Lucas (David Seltzer, 1986) all wear
a huge P on their team jackets; their team name is the Pirates.
- A band member wears a prominent P on his award jacket in Swing
Out Sister's music video "Twilight World" (1987).
Player #7 is prominent in one of their games.
- The real life baseball
team the Pirates also wear a stylized letter P on their uniforms.
- Steven Weber has a huge P on the back of his award jacket
in Jeffrey (1995). It is somewhat oddly placed there -
usually such letters are on the front.
- The basketball team in Pleasantville (1998) wear P on their school sweaters.
- The Padua High School football team in Ten Things I Hate About You (1999)
wear P on their award jackets.
- Athletes walking behind the hero wear matching blue-and-white award jackets
with a huge P in a "Direct TV" commercial (2017).
- The football players in Christine (1983) wear a giant
R on their red-and-white award jackets.
- The romantic jock (Ethan Erickson) in Jawbreaker (1999) has a huge R on his red-with-a-touch-of-orange award jacket.
The jacket has white leather sleeves, yellow collar trim, and the gray letter outlined in white and red.
(The film also has a pair of cops who wear their sharp black LAPD uniforms with precision.)
- Devon Graye's wrestler in Legendary (2010) has a big R on his uniform.
- Chris Hemsworth wears a large R on his varsity jacket in The Cabin in the Woods (2012).
The jacket is green with dark yellow leather sleeves and trim.
His character is deliberately dressed to convey an "athlete archetype".
It is interesting that this archetype includes a giant R.
There are also a phallic-looking series of badges on his jacket's left sleeve.
- K.J. Apa, starring as Archie in the TV series Riverdale (2017), is #9 on his football team.
He wears the giant R on his award jacket, that Archie wears in the original comic books.
The jackets are blue with an intense mustard yellow on the sleeves and letter R.
Wearing it makes Archie look colorful and a contrast to the guys in neutral colors around him.
He "stands out" in the shots.
- Christopher Rich also wears the giant R on his award jacket in Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (1990).
It has white leather sleeves.
- Chris Evans wears a J-H combination on his varsity jacket in Not Another Teen Movie (2001).
- Artist Tom Hickey shows comic book hero Bruce Nelson with
a giant letter P on the center front of his school sweater in
"Gambler's Waterloo" (Detective Comics #23, January
1939), a tale set at fictitious Princely University, where the
aristocratic Nelson was once a football star.
- When the Flash goes undercover on
a baseball team, they wear a giant R on their uniforms, in "Baseball"
(Flash Comics #17, May 1941).
- Archie wore a giant R in the front of his school sweater,
and his football player friend Moose sported a giant 1, in the
comic book Archie.
- When Archie got super-powers and became Pureheart the Powerful (1965-1967),
he wore a P on the chest of his super-hero costume.
Archie's red-and-blue costume is really cool.
- Beetle Bailey wore a sweater with a large R, on his furlough home (1954).
- Super-heroes Magno and Davy display a giant letter I on their
costumes, in 1940's Super-Mystery Comics.
- Ragsy wears a T on his chest when he becomes the comic book hero Kid Tyrant
in The Chameleon tale "A City Terrorized" (Target Comics #25, March 1942),
and its sequel "Who Is Kid Tyrant?" in the next issue.
- Pow-Wow Smith's friend wears a sweater with a T in front in
"Death in the Northwoods" (Detective Comics #154, December 1949) (bottom of page 3).
Art: Carmine Infantino.
- The advertising character super-hero Captain Tootsie wears
a giant, thick yellow T on the front of his red tunic, in Bill
Schreiber's one-page advertisement, "The Show Must Go On!"
(World's Finest Comics #46, June-July 1950).
- A young newsman wears a giant T on his sleeveless sweater in
"Reporter for a Day" (Big Town #17, September-October 1952) (page 2).
- The hero wears a T on his school sweater in
"My Love Will Know Me" (Secret Hearts #83, November 1962).
- Murphy Anderson drew two college astronomy students with T's
on their school clothing in "Amazing Mirages of Space"
(Mystery in Space #48, December 1958).
These two young men are the smartest characters in the story.
One wears a giant T in the front center of his sweater; the other
has a similar T on the chest of his leather windbreaker.
Both of these handsome young men are also wearing white dress shirts and ties.
They are both associated with the jutting telescope
in the art, another strong, single vertical.
- In "The Origin of Captain Comet" (Strange Adventures
#9, June 1951) Carmine Infantino draws his hero during his college
football days wearing #7 on his uniform. In the next panel, our
hero is wearing a school sweater, with a large T on top, and the
letter H down below it, with its vertical lines and cross bar
sticking out on either side of the base of the T: a design even
more symbolic than usual.
- Before Captain Comet, the space explorer Chris KL-99 also
appeared in Strange Adventures, written by Edmond Hamilton.
- XL-49 is a romantic character in "The Bride of Futureman" (Superman #121, June 1958).
- When Clark Kent becomes Power-Man, he wears a giant P on his chest in
"Lois Lane's Super-Dream" (Superman #125, November 1958). Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- Super-hero Ideal-Man wears a giant I on his chest in "Lois Lane's Super-Gamble"
(Lois Lane #56, April 1965). Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- Superman's descendent Superman VI has secret identity Klar Ken T-5477 in
"The Superman of 2965" (Superman #181, November 1965). Writer: Edmond Hamilton. Art: Curt Swan.
Apparently authentic looking football jerseys have also become
popular among men in real life as street wear. A major sports
wear manufacturer is now selling shiny navy blue and gold football
jerseys, with the number 7 in gold on their chest, sleeves and
back. These are cleverly designed to look just like a real football
uniform a guy happened to have around. Navy blue is also the traditional
color of male authority figures, such as policemen, pilots and
business bosses. Navy blue baseball T shirts by another manufacturer
bear the number 77, while a shiny white basketball jersey bears
a huge red 4. Many college football jerseys sold to fans contain
the number 1 on their chest.
Well known athletes wear such numbers:
Some teams use such numbers systematically:
- Fans love to wear replicas of the football jerseys of real
life football hero Jason Hanson. These are royal blue Detroit
Lions uniforms, with their huge number 4 in silver on their chest
and shoulders. Hanson was also number 4 when he played in college
at Washington State.
- Jerry Rice is #19 for the Denver Broncos.
- Don Meredith was #17 both at Southern Methodist University, and for the Dallas Cowboys.
- Hockey star Gordie Howe was first #17 then #9 for the Detroit Red Wings.
- Hockey star Steve Yzerman was #19 for the Detroit Red Wings.
- Football star Johnny Unitas was #19 for the Baltimore Colts.
- Ken Anderson was #14 as quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals football team.
The number was featured prominently in his coffee commercial.
- Football quarterback Jim Everett was #11 for the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, and
#17 for the New Orleans Saints.
- Quarterback Warren Moon was #1 for four different pro football teams.
- Punky quarterback Jim McMahon wore #9, first for Brigham Young University,
then as a pro for the Chicago Bears, along with his trademark shades.
- Fashion trendsetter Brian Bosworth wore #44 at college, and tried to keep
wearing it in the pros, but was forced to switch to #55.
- John Havlicek was #17 for the Boston Celtics basketball team.
- Hank Aaron was #44 on several baseball teams.
- Jack Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers as #47. He also wore a spectacular fur coat.
It became a subject of humorous controversy, as being perhaps too flashy.
- Future sports broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit was #4 as quarterback of the Ohio State football team.
- Future actor Josh Duhamel was #11 as quarterback for his Minot State University team.
- Baseball player Brady Anderson has a fan base: he wore #9 for the Baltimore Orioles.
- So does Adam Vinatieri, #4 for the New England Patriots football team.
- Brett Favre was #4 on several football teams.
- Joe Mauer plays #7 on his baseball team the Minnesota Twins.
- Football kicker Lawrence Tynes was #1 for the Kansas City Chiefs,
and won the Super Bowl as #9 for the New York Giants.
- British soccer superstar and fashion trendsetter David Beckham is
#7 for his team; his replica jerseys are also very popular.
- British leading man Colin Firth plays a soccer fan in the movie
Fever Pitch (1997): he wears #7 on his red Arsenal jersey.
- Basketball sensation Jeremy Lin is #17 for the New York Knicks.
- John Elway was #7 as quarterback for the Denver Broncos, and had the same number at Stanford.
- Matt Cassel was #7 as quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Dirk Nowitzki was #41 on the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. He was #14 for the German national basketball team.
- Tyler Seguin was #19 with the Boston Bruins hockey team and #91 with the Dallas Stars.
- Ryan Kesler was regularly #17 on his hockey teams. He also uses RK17 as the name and logo of his fashion line.
- Steve Fuller was football quarterback #4 for Clemson;
the number was revived by contemporary quarterback Deshaun Watson.
- John Means is #47 as baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
- Joe Burrow is #9 as quarterback for the LSU Tigers.
- Matthew Stafford is #9 as quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. He was #7 in college at the University of Georgia.
- Colin Kaepernick is #7 as quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers football team.
- USC is not playing favorites with its two starring football quarterbacks:
Matt Barkley is #7 while Max Browne is #4.
- Drew Brees is in his #9 New Orleans Saints football uniform on the cover of his autobiography (2010).
- Luke McCown is #7 as backup quarterback for the New Orleans Saints football team.
He starred in uniform in a TV commercial for backup computer networks (2015).
- Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo is #9 and Dak Prescott is #4.
- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is #11 and back-up quarterback Nick Foles is #9.
Nick Foles previously was #4 for the Kansas City Chiefs. Wentz was also #11 for North Dakota State.
Rock musicians, too, have long used such symbolism.
Paul McCartney's band used to include a guitarist who wore an athletic top with
a huge, sports style "1" on his chest, along with shiny black nylon pants and black leather boots.
When actor Chris Klein appeared on MTV's show TRL for a Super Bowl XXXVI party (2001),
he wore a purple football jersey with a huge white 7 on the chest, below the word TRL.
- When the band 98 Degrees appeared on the Rock 'N Jock Show
(2001) on MTV, Nick Lachey wore a navy blue football jersey with
#4 on it and Justin Jeffre wore #1 on the same team; Jeff Timmons
sported a white jersey with a red #7, and Nick's kid brother Drew
Lachey wore 14 on the same white team. As usual, Drew's clothes
are similar to, but not as macho, as the rest of the team's -
he will be in a short white jacket when everyone else is in long
white coats, or in a dark cloth jacket while his teammates wear
black leather, or in a tee shirt when everyone else is in firemen's
- His teammates use their numbers in other contexts. Nick Lachey
also makes public appearances in a black #4 baseball jersey.
- His bandmate Jeff Timmons likes to sport a shiny gold Notre
Dame football jersey with a huge #7 on the chest and shoulders.
It is glamorous and assertive.
- There are also shots of the band wearing football jerseys,
all with the number 98 on their chest, shoulders and back. Where
a person's name would go on the back, above the number 98, the
band's name 98 Degrees appears instead.
- Justin Timberlake wears basketball uniforms with numbers 4
and 1 during his concerts. The red custom made #1 jerseys give
his team as "N SYNC", in curved athletic style letters.
- Lance Bass wears football jerseys with his name, and #4.
- JC Chasez has been photographed weight training in green work-out pants with a big 1.
- A band member wears a shiny black football jersey with a giant white 19 on the chest.
The sleeves awe reversed, in white with a large black 19. He wears black gym shoes with large white laces.
Double numbers also create punch:
See also all the men above wearing 11, 44, 77 and 99: the most common form of double numbers.
- Both 'N Sync and 98 Degrees have experimented with commercial
lines of clothes that use double numbers. 'N Sync have appeared
in shiny metallic football jerseys with huge 00 numbers on their chests.
The zeroes have a perverse quality that is exciting.
- A Tostitos commercial (2015) shows a man throwing a party, wearing a jersey marked 00.
- JC Chasez has a shiny black jersey with a large 88 on the chest.
And an equally shiny black Miami Heat basketball uniform with number 22 in white and red on the front.
HEAT is in red, with a phallic flame jutting out of the T.
- 98 Degrees have cast Nick Lachey and Jeff Timmons in basketball
jerseys that are #88, while kid brother Drew is in a matching
baby blue color team spirit style shirt that could be worn by
a male cheerleader.
- The lead singer of Creed performs in a #11 football jersey.
- Football star Victor Mature is #66 and best friend Sonny Tufts is #44
in Easy Living (Jacques Tourneur, 1949).
- Ray Milland is #22 as the baseball playing professor in
It Happens Every Spring (1949).
- Burt Reynolds wore 22 on his jet black football uniform in
The Longest Yard (Robert Aldrich, 1974).
- Tom Cruise was #33 as the football team captain in
All the Right Moves (1983), while players #44 and #55 were among his teammates.
The Wild One - Influence on Comics and Film
The Show Off. Comic books sometimes use such paired numbers:
see "The Show Off" (Heart Throbs #145, September 1972). The cover shows
the ultra-macho football player in full team uniform. His number
is 33. Later in the tale, we see the football player in his team
jacket. This is a black leather jacket. Unlike many athletic jackets,
which emphasize glamour, this one looks tough. The black leather
jacket looks like something a gang of motorcycle hoodlums would wear.
It is covered with white writing, like the jackets of a
biker gang. In front is a big letter S, which stands for State,
the name of the team's school. The back of the jacket has the
word STATE on it. Immediately below, in white letters, is the
player's number, 33. Both STATE and 33 are in exactly the same
positions and style of lettering as on the player's football uniform.
The effect is of a transfer between the hero's uniform and his
leather jacket. All the letters are in the block style frequently
used for athletic lettering. The jacket with its number is extremely
tough looking, almost like something a convict would wear. There
is no name on the jacket, just the hero's team number. The effect
of being part of a motorcycle gang is overwhelmingly convincing.
The whole concept of such jackets is unique. I have never seen
anything like them in real life. Like other biker uniforms in
the comics, it shows the influence of the biker film The Wild One (1953),
which also featured black leather jackets with white lettering.
The heroine must choose between her boyfriend, the college football player, or his handsome young coach.
The cover (probably by Art Saaf) encapsulates her dilemma. It shows the heroine and the two men.
The bulgingly muscular football player is in full uniform.
The coach is a young pretty boy. He looks hardly old enough to vote.
Both men are giving the heroine orders. The coach is commanding her to choose between them,
while the angry, aggressive football player is pointing at her and commanding that she choose him.
All of this is right in the football stadium, with a crowd filling the stands behind them.
Wheels of Passion. The champion motorcycle racer of writer-artist Ric Estrada's
"Wheels of Passion" (Young Romance #162, October - November 1969)
goes through a wide variety of costume changes. On the
cover, he wears a fancy, very detailed leather jacket, filled
with zippers, as well as helmet, gloves and goggles. In the story,
first he races for the heroine's father's company. There he wears
a black leather jacket, with the number 9 prominently displayed
on it. Such single digit numbers are very popular in the comics.
He also wears a sharp blue suit in one scene, showing he is also
a corporate employee.
When the hero branches out on his own, his team gets a special
insignia, a circle with a horizontal line through it. This insignia
is everywhere on his uniforms. It shows up on his chest and sleeves.
It is displayed everywhere, in the style of a uniformed organization.
It helps make his clothes more uniform like, giving them a special team discipline feel.
Passport to Heartbreak.
"Passport to Heartbreak" (Falling in Love #114, April 1970) has art by Ric Estrada.
The life story of a spoiled girl, from childhood to grown-up.
Although she has a star athlete boyfriend Randy,
she fools around with leather jacketed cyclist Mike Murdock behind his back.
Mike Murdock is hardly the menacing-biker though: he's drawn to look cute and non-threatening.
His jacket has epaulettes, but few other jazzy features. It is not a Perfecto, unfortunately.
Still, he is the only person in the tale with a full name,
and the only person with any joie-de-vivre.
In Love and War. "In Love and War" (Supergirl #6, August 1973)
has Supergirl trying to prevent a war between two youth gangs.
Bob Oksner's cover shows one of the gang lords, in a leather jacket.
The jacket sleeve is covered with military style patches, including a fist.
The fist and the number 2 patch below combine to be conspicuously phallic.
The jacket has an erect collar. It is worn without a shirt, just the gang lord's huge muscles underneath.
The gang lord wears gray striped pants. Such stripes are associated with traditional authority figures,
like a Western sheriff or an English aristocrat in a formal wear cutaway coat.
The striped trousers have metal rivets, a cool touch. The hero wears a tight metal wrist band that matches the rivets.
The bulky, heavy leather jacket is somewhere between dark gray and black, echoing the gray pants.
The jacket is elaborately belted in front.
Flattery - Can Get You Anywhere.
"Flattery - Can Get You Anywhere" (Heart Throbs #143, July 1972) has its young heroine
flatter a hockey star on their first date. This is a light-hearted little story.
Both characters are likable, and both behave decently to each other and have fun.
This makes it a pleasant alternative to soap opera. The hero is pre-med.
He is quite a guy: a major league hunk, a good student, a nice guy.
The hero is a muscular athlete, a little more macho than we usually see in the romance comics.
First he is shown in his purple hockey uniform.
Then, on the date, he wears a gray suede jacket with a stand up collar; the collar looks especially cool.
The hero's red hair and big muscles make him look like a regular guy.
Cindy the Salesgirl. "Cindy the Salesgirl" (Girls' Romances #133, June 1968)
shows the heroine's boyfriend Sandy in what seems to be a leather windbreaker.
It has slightly "rough" features, such as epaulettes and a stand-up collar.
The Bad Seed. "The Bad Seed" (Girls' Love Stories #167, March 1972)
is a young man the heroine's wealthy parents don't want her to marry.
The ruggedly muscular young man wears a black leather jacket on the splash panel. Art: Jay Scott Pike.
The Wall Between Us. "The Wall Between Us" (Young Romance #175, October 1971)
has its Hispanic hero Carlos Ramirez in a black leather motorcycle jacket.
The jacket is close in its details to the one in The Wild One: something
not always found in comic books. It differs by having huge buckles on its cuffs and waist. Art: Art Saaf.
Romance Comics: Art by Don Heck
He's Mine. "He's Mine" (Girls' Love Stories #177, April - May 1973)
is a romance comic book tale with art by Don Heck.
A woman has two boyfriends: a handsome blond sexually aggressive one with a roving eye,
and a steady nice guy who loves her, walks dogs tied to his leash and who wears black leather jackets.
The blond wears suits and is dressed to the max.
Forsake My Love. The cover (Girls' Romances #156, April 1971) features the hero Tom
in an unusual black leather jacket. The collar and lapels resemble the Perfecto
motorcycle jacket seen in The Wild One. But the lower part of the jacket is unexpectedly
lacking a zipper. Instead it is elegant, double-breasted and fastened by four huge black buttons.
Such button regions look more like a trenchcoat. This lower part looks quite tight.
He wears it with a blue tee shirt and snow white pants. Art by Don Heck.
The tight clothes, black leather, and white pants show up in other art by Don Heck.
Hero Tom has leading man good looks. He's angry, and is gripping a phallic tree trunk.
Betrayed. The cover of Young Romance #89 (November 1971) shows the hero Allen in
tight leather pants. These bell-bottoms are worn with a big black leather belt:
common in romance comics of the era.
The hero Allen wears a uniform-style shirt with giant patch pockets.
This hero is more a stallion, than any sort of romantic beau. Art by Don Heck.
The cover illustrates a reprinted story "Betrayed" (1964).
The hero's legs are thrust apart, like the rock singer on the cover of
"Operation Star" (Young Love #103, March-April 1973), a posture that conveys maximum assertiveness and display.
See the dressy businessmen standing this way in "The City Suit", GQ (May 1988) (page 254)
and "The Power Look", GQ (September 1988) (page 380), both photographed by Walter Chin.
See also "Linen Nine to Five", GQ (June 1987) (page 172), photographed by Steven Meisel.
Film and Fashion
Perfecto. The leather jacket in The Wild One was not invented for the movie.
It was a real-life jacket: the Perfecto, made by the Schott Bros.
It was available for sale for decades. Men who wanted one could and did buy one and wear it.
In the mystery novel The Voodoo Murders (1957) (Chapters 3-4)
by Michael Avallone,
the bar gets two patrons who dress in motorcycle jackets
like Brando wore in The Wild One. The two guys look menacing,
but they turn out to be perfectly harmless. The book refers to them as
"the leather-jacketed wild ones" and the "two Brandos".
Patrick Cassidy is one of the few Hollywood actors who likes being photographed wearing
Perfecto-style motorcycle jackets. He looked even better in a spectacular full length leather coat.
The Twilight Zone episode
Black Leather Jackets (Joseph M. Newman, 1964)
has three aliens invading Earth, masquerading as bikers.
They wear matching Perfecto-style jackets.
The jackets also have an identical chest insignia, making them uniforms.
Everything has been done to make both the leather and metal parts of the jackets gleam.
It is not clear that these are actual Perfectos. They might be a stylish imitation,
made by someone else.
Mirage. The Perfecto leather jackets in The Wild One
influenced other real-life jackets. One of these black leather jackets is "Mirage".
The Mirage has features of the Perfecto, but they are transformed into something
elegant and upscale, in the 1980's style.
The collars are similar, but the leather is thicker in the Mirage.
The pockets are a bit more conventional and classier.
The zippered pockets in the Mirage open more yawningly and deeper than the stiffer Perfecto,
and are completely lined with black leather. There are extra zippers on the forearms, too.
The flapped pocket towards the base of the Perfecto is moved to the upper chest.
and is bigger and much wider.
On the other side of the upper chest, a metal ring is now embedded in the leather.
The ring is irregularly shaped, with both straight and circular regions.
This attracts the eye and holds the attention, as does the unusual flapped pocket.
The shiny black leather of the Mirage looks both soft, and strong.
The Mirage can be seen in a two-page ad in GQ (September 1988) (pages 98, 99).
It is modeled by a muscular, broad-shouldered young man with well-worn jeans and a phallic guitar.
He resembles model James Guidera. Or perhaps actor Rob Estes.
The guitar links the upscale jacket to rock music, rather than motorcycles.
Photography: Guido Flueck.
Calvin Klein: Three for the Road. "Three for the Road" (GQ, February 1992) (page 112)
features a black leather motorcycle jacket from Calvin Klein. The weathered-leather jacket looks
like something the wearer has owned for a long time. It's both tough and really glossy.
It is clearly inspired by the Perfecto, but it has even more and bigger zippers.
It also has a big patch pocket on the sleeve, like a pilot's uniform, something the Perfecto always lacked.
Photography: Fabrizio Ferri.
Model: Jesse Harris. Jesse Harris specialized in portraying leading man types, macho,
classy and authoritative. Often he was in the dressiest of business suits.
This gives his appearance in this leather uniform a special kick.
Harris is photographed here with iconography associated with rock stars:
uniforms, leather, an elevated position, phallic symbols. Throughout the photo shoot
Harris is linked to phallic symbols like cars, poles, towers, gas pumps.
A second shot (page 114) has him all in black: shirt, trousers, shiny shoes.
Versace. Designer Gianni Versace created a series of related-but-different black leather tops and jeans.
Photos were taken by Doug Ordway in South Beach in Florida, circa 1992. These are spectacular.
The leather clothes are full of white stitching, that recalls denim jeans and jackets more than leather wear.
Cool As Ice. Rapper Vanilla Ice wore a black leather motorcycle jacket in the
film Cool As Ice (1991), courtesy costume designer Ingrid Ferrin.
It is covered with white lettering, in numerous different script styles that recall athletic award jackets.
It is a cross between the outlaw biker bad boy look, and athletic team uniform jackets.
The jacket is full of shiny metal snaps, like an athletic jacket, rather than the zippers common in bike jackets.
The words formed by the letters are insinuating, and so are the various styles of letters
with which they are composed. Anti-social messages are juxtaposed with "official" looking styles of letters.
Some of the messages are blatantly sexual. Others suggest a bad boy image, like DANGER.
The left sleeve has a design-with-letters. It is positioned on the sleeve like a uniformed organization's insignia.
It gives the jacket a uniform impact. So does shoulder lettering, which recalls an epaulette.
He wore a huge matching black cap that combines features of baseball caps,
with a shape that strongly evokes fatigue uniform caps.
Uniquely, it has metal plate insignia where a policeman's badge might go.
And a matching shiny metal plate along the visor. Both plates seem bolted to the cap,
attached with conspicuous metal screws or bolts: also a unique feature.
Black leather biker jackets with white lettering, and uniform caps, recall The Wild One.
The clothes derive from The Wild One tradition - but transform it in inventive ways.
Kenneth Cole. Designer Kenneth Cole was featured in People (November 16, 1998) (page 104).
Photography: George Lange.
He wears what at first looks like a black leather jacket. But actually it is styled like a man's dress shirt.
A heavy, oversize leather shirt. It is made of a heavy, shiny leather.
The shirt is almost like one of those Pop Art works that feature a large, transformed version of a familiar object.
Like a shirt, it has heavy black leather button holes, rather than zippers.
The button holes look difficult to fasten or unfasten. The button holes' elaborate stylings call attention to themselves.
Cole wears the shirt with the elaborate, shiny black leather "casual" shoes popular in the 1990's.
Josh Lucas. Actor Josh Lucas wore a gleaming black leather jacket, with black zippers and an erect, belted collar (2013).
The all-black look is striking. Even the buckle of the collar belt looks like dark metal. So does the metal snap at the waist.
Two large vertical black zippers on the upper chest, have arrow-shaped tops that make them look even more phallic.
All this black metal makes the jacket seem like industrial machinery. So does the smooth, heavy leather.
The Calvin Klein jacket looks heavy, dressy, and just a bit intimidating.
The jacket is designed to make the wearer look wide-shouldered, and with brawny upper arms.
This is fairly common in contemporary jackets. But it still makes the wearer look imposing.
Lucas wore the jacket with tight jeans. And a black leather belt with an exceptionally wide metal buckle loop.
Just as the jacket is a variation on the standard black leather jacket, so is the belt a variation on a standard belt.
The belt buckle echoes the belted collar.
Josh Lucas wore white naval uniforms as a pilot in Stealth (2005).
Jérémie Laheurte. Jérémie Laheurte is a French actor.
He is protean in appearance. Starring in the French TV series Paris Police 1900 (2021),
he's gone the classy Murdoch Mysteries route,
in a form-fitting dark-gray three-piece suit, white dress shirt and tie.
He also wears a watch chain, and a cap with a jutting stiff visor.
It's an Authority Figure look, with pleasant hints of kinkiness.
Earlier he was photographed in something much more juvenile: a Perfecto-like motorcycle jacket,
with a giant collar. He wore his hair cut down to the minimum, and a gray tee shirt.
He's also worn a light-orange Perfecto-style jacket.
Hutch. David Soul wore a different, simpler kind of black leather jacket on
his TV series Starsky and Hutch. It emphasizes snaps rather than zippers.
Its collar flap was unusual in its day.
Ryan Lochte. Swimmer Ryan Lochte wore a red motorcycle vest when he presented at a music festival in 2012.
The vest is shaped much like a Perfecto motorcycle jacket, only sleeveless. It is a bright red.
The zipper areas and snaps are black, making them even more conspicuous.
Lochte wore it with a black shirt and black leather pants. The vest has a party-like feel.
It looks light-weight, and designed to be worn indoors for long periods without getting too hot.
As the World Turns. The TV soap opera As the World Turns (1983) had a costume party.
Everyone dressed up in "punk" clothes, then a craze. Character Brian McColl (actor Frank Telfer)
showed up in a shiny black leather motorcycle jacket and cap. This outfit, with its leather uniform cap,
tries to be as decadent as possible. And also a comic parody of decadence.
Alexander Skarsgård. Actor Alexander Skarsgård posed for a magazine shoot (2011).
He wore a shiny black shirt made out of some unusual glazed material, black jeans, a leather belt
and shiny black leather boots. He's kneeling on a bed and carrying a big black baseball bat.
The shiny shirt's big patch pockets and epaulettes give it a uniform feel.
Interview magazine, May 23, 2011. Photography: Steven Klein.
This is the opposite of the clean cut white naval uniforms
Skarsgård would soon wear in the movie Battleship (2012). Or is it?
The uniforms express a Chain of Command.
Mystery 101. Mystery 101 is a series of mystery films, made for the Hallmark Channel.
The first episode (2019), which is the pilot for the series, is also known as Mystery 101.
The series' Good Guy male character is police detective Travis Burke, played by actor Kristoffer Polaha.
Burke is originally from Chicago, and has plenty of big-city sophistication.
Burke is often shown in slick, fashionable black leather jackets.
In the pilot Mystery 101 and the second episode Playing Dead (2019)
he's in a jacket with ribbed shoulders and upper arms. The jacket is otherwise smooth and elegant,
with silver zippers.
In other films, he wears a simpler leather jacket. It's a more traditional motorcycle jacket. This features lots of silver zippers.
In Dead Talk (2019) he sports a tuxedo. The black tux is traditional and stylish.
Tom Miller. Tom Miller was an artist who painted the covers of numerous paperback books.
His cover (January 1971) for the paperback of Joyce Carol Oates' With Shuddering Fall
shows a handsome, arrogant man in a gleaming leather motorcycle jacket. The jacket is close in
style to a Perfecto. It lacks the belt and epaulettes though, which oddly makes it look dressier.
So does the turtleneck the man wears under the jacket.
The Mod hero has the "razor cut" hair that was glamorous in that era.
Class of 1984. The movie poster for the 1982 film Class of 1984 shows its
villains decked out in punk fashions. Their leader is in a uniform leather shirt and tight leather pants.
Two of his followers are also in gleaming leather pants.
These outfits are quite creative. Little like them appears in the actual movie. An exception:
in the film the chief villain (Timothy Van Patten) wears a cloth shirt with a metal ring at the collar.
In the poster the chief villain's uniform shirt has two similar metal rings at the collar.
One suspects that the poster was created after the movie was filmed.
Spikes or spines are sometimes found on punk clothes. They serve as phallic symbols.
They are present in the poster:
Another follower sports a brightly colored Mohawk hair style.
He wears studded black leather wristbands and a studded belt.
The fasteners on his leather gloves echo this studded gear.
- The chief villain has a formidable silver metal arc of spikes on one shoulder.
This is placed where braid is often found in a standard dress uniform.
The erect, jutting spikes are at jaunty angles.
The other shoulder has an epaulette with chevron imsignia: a "uniform" feature.
- In some versions of the poster, he is carrying a club with spines on its head.
This version of the poster also has phallic skyscrapers in the background.
- A follower has a row of spines running up each boot. The smooth, shiny leather boots go up to his knees.
The chief villain's shirt unexpectedly has Mod elements, from the early 1970's, as well as punk.
These Mod features include puffy sleeves with tight cuffs. He has the muscular build, well-developed neck and
elaborately coiffed hair of such Mod heroes as "That Special Man" (1973).
Long Coats can also be impressive.
Storm. Joseph Campanella wore a long black rain slicker, in
the episode Storm (Paul Wendkos, 1967) of the TV science fiction series The Invaders.
The coat is shiny, and shows off his build.
Andrew Fezza. Fezza designed a full-length black leather coat. The impressive coat is remarkably shiny.
The double-breasted coat conceals fasteners - it tries to look like a pure expanse of black leather.
The only visible fasteners are the belt at the waist, and big black buttons on the cuffs.
The black leather on the belt is vivid and shiny, while the buckle is thin and inconspicuous.
See the fashion spread "The Big Story" (GQ, August 1986) (page 149). Photography: Arthur Elgort.
The model is likely Grant Caradine.
Andrew Marc. GQ (September 1988) (pages 88, 89)
contains a full-length black leather coat by Andrew Marc. The shiny coat is aggressively long,
a common and spectacular feature of men's dressy coats in that era.
The heavy coat is bulky in the shoulders and upper arms. Photos: Chris Gbur.
Drizzle. Drizzle is a line of raincoats, by Carol Cohen (1988). The men's coats look a lot like trenchcoats.
Like a trenchcoat, these long raincoats are designed to be worn over a suit.
The wearer's shirt and tie are visible at the collar. But otherwise the coat mainly fully covers the suit.
The coats are highly effective again rain, being waterproof and completely covering the wearer's suit.
Suppose the wearer has just come indoors out of the rain.
It's always effective when the wearer strips off his gleaming wet Drizzle coat inside, and his dressy 1980's suit is revealed, bone dry.
The wearer is still perfectly dressed, even after going through a thunderstorm. He is all set for business.
The waterproof Drizzle coat soon dries indoors. When put back on, it looks just as dressy and intimidating as ever.
An ad shows a white coat. GQ (September 1988) (page 82).
The best version of a Drizzle is a shiny jet black. It looks like black leather, but isn't.
A double-breasted shiny panel snaps up the front with two columns of black snaps. The panel is especially imposing.
The long coat has tremendous swagger.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (Simon Wincer, 1991)
is an action film. The rich businessman villain has a team of security guards who double as hit men.
The guards are never seen in traditional uniforms. But they always wear identical clothes on duty.
Sometimes these are prestige suits, while at corporate headquarters.
But in action, they wear matching long black leather coats. These have huge stand-up collars.
And a panel that snaps down the front. The coats look massive in the shoulders and upper arms.
It is hard to tell if the coats are leather, or some sort of leather-look fabric.
2Be3. The French pop band 2Be3 liked to be photographed in long black leather coats (1998).
Often they wore them with matching black leather pants. The coats were gleaming and dressy.
They had an executive look, like many of the suits worn by the group.
2Be3 wore them both on stage, and in publicity photos.
2Be3 wore outfits made of shiny black vinyl. Each outfit had matching shirt and trousers.
The shirts were styled like jackets, and maybe should be considered jackets:
- One outfit was completely smooth, with no pockets. The shirt was fastened by a single zipper.
- Another outfit had patch pockets on the chest. It was fastened by many metal snaps,
matching the snaps on the patch pockets. This outfit looks especially uniform-like.
The shirts were designed so that the members' broad shoulders looked bulging under the shirts.
The bulging shoulders seem to put stress on the shiny fabric.
2Be3 were photographed in matching black leather jackets. The jackets had large X symbol on their chests.
The X symbols looked like insignia on uniforms.
The way the three men were in identical clothes also made the band look uniformed.
In the photos Adel is reaching out to shake the viewer's hand.
2Be3 wore tuxedos to Cannes (2000). Frank's (on the left) was velvet, with a giant double-breasted vest.
The band also wore upbeat Gallic versions of cowboy clothes. These use both suede and black leather.
2be3 had spectacularly colorful stage uniforms. These were tank tops in bright colors,
marked out into curving regions by gray lines.
They wore them with shiny track pants, often in bright metallic colors.
A stage routine reportedly had them merging from a giant silver statue of a robot, while wearing these colorful uniforms.
The uniforms have a 3D quality, with the round regions seemingly recessed and seen in depth between the gray lines.
The lines seem phallic, while the recessed round regions seem like female symbols.
Filip of 2Be3 wore a car racing suit, bright red with black trim. He carried a racing helmet,
also red with black accents. This was a spectacularly bright example of color.
One cuff has a checkerboard racing pattern, in red and black squares. This is unusual.
The suit tunic makes a spreading V-shape, from a narrow waist up to broad shoulders.
The suit uses every trick to make the shoulders look broad, and direct attention to them.
An erect black collar calls attention to Filip's muscular neck.
Filip Nikolic went on to a solo career. He frequently sported fashionable black leather jackets.
2Be3 is sometimes spelled "2 Be 3", with spaces.
Uniforms and Vehicles
Glamorously uniformed riders, drivers or pilots of glamorous vehicles are a comic book tradition.
Play With Fire. Writer: Robert Kanigher. The biker uniforms in artist Jay Scott Pike's
"Play With Fire" (Girls' Love Stories #178, July - August 1973) also have features that recall
The Wild One. The uniforms are a unique cross between biker
gear, police style dress uniforms, and athletic uniforms, all
in one spiffy package. An athletic style purple muscle shirt is
worn with a matching police style, high peaked uniform cap - a
most unusual combination. The cap and the shirt both contain the
same skull insignia and purple color, making the combination a true uniform.
The skull is shown tightly blindfolded, echoing the blind skulls on
the caps and jackets in The Wild One. The shirts also bear
large and small numbers on the back and front respectively, in
a style of lettering traditionally used for athletic uniforms.
The hero is #7. This uniform is clean cut, with features that
recall the spiffiest of spit and polish dress uniforms. The peaked
uniform cap is especially elegant, with a huge curved shiny black
visor, and a silver rim connecting it to the cap.
The hero is the only biker in the story. It is unclear whether he is part
of a motorcycle racing team, or a gang, or some sort of elite
club, or whether his uniform is just some sort of fashion statement,
and he is the only member of a non-existent "team".
The biker hero Danny Fields is the school's top baseball player - he is definitely
not a marginalized person. The uniform is totally cool.
It is perhaps its combination of many traditions that gives it its edge.
Pike's men tend to be boyish, good natured and sweet looking,
as well as being very good looking. But they are uninhibited about
wearing any sort of uniform, or clothes that convey social authority.
Society goes out its way to certify these young men as appealing,
in the way they are dressed, quite a sneaky combination. The hero
of this tale is explicitly a star athlete; we see him in his baseball
team uniform. Such sports stars have a high social status that
is unquestionable, even if unfair. The hero is a member of a male
group that is of overwhelming social status.
Like other romance comic heroes, this guy seems to be members
of groups that are often thought of as social enemies:
Athletes, dreamboats, bikers - these are different groups in most schools.
Our hero can excel at any of these looks.
- First, he is dressed as a star athlete: a baseball player.
- Then he is glamorous clothes at a dance class that suggest
he is at the top of his school's social elite, pretty clothes that suggest he is the ultimate heartthrob date.
- Finally, at the end he shows up in full biker uniform.
At the dance class, the hero turns out to be an authority on dancing.
This links him to another prestige group, rock stars.
He gives the heroine an order to show him her dancing.
Then he authoritatively evaluates the heroine's dancing.
He's positive about it, and not at all mean.
But this sneakily establishes himself as an Authority Figure.
He also gives the heroine small orders - also an Authority Figure trait.
The police-style cap he later wears as a uniformed biker also suggests Authority.
The white suit-of-sorts he wears to the dance class simply seems stylish, at first.
But retroactively, it comes to look like a uniform - because it is similar to the
motorcycle uniform he wears at the end. The suit has the same colors as the biker uniform:
white with a purple shirt. The suit jacket's two patch pockets also suggests a uniform.
So do his white shoes.
The hero Danny has an iconography associated with rock stars and sometimes athletes in the comics:
The hero embodies the rock star / athlete paradigm in other ways too:
- At the tale's start he is linked to such imagery:
his baseball uniform, his phallic baseball bat.
- In the middle dance class section: his uniform-style suit, his elevated arena on the roof,
phallic doors he controls, the phallic pillar with the school marquee at top.
- A brief encounter with Danny (page 9) has him elevated on a staircase, gripping a phallic bannister.
- In the tale's finale with the hero as a biker: uniforms, an elevated position (on his motorcycle),
phallic symbols (his motorcycle, the number 7 on his uniform), black leather buckled boots.
- The hero is officially linked to his school. His baseball uniform says "Hadley High" on the chest.
He kisses women on "his" school roof, near the official school sign saying "Hadley High".
Being linked to an organization is often a sign of power in comic book tales of rock stars and athletes.
- The hero's careful approach in the dance class and biker sequences, suggests planning -
also an attribute of rock stars and athletes.
- The hero always seems calm and self-possessed.
- He's skilled at embodying Authority.
- The scrapbooks convey that he is the focus of attention.
- The heroine's wetsuit at the end, is the kind of tight and awkward clothes worn by fans in such tales.
The phallic handlebar of the hero's motorcycle (on the cover)
is precisely positioned for maximum symbolism.
The same is true of the gardening spade handle
on another Pike cover (Young Romance #173, August 1971).
On the gardening cover, the young man Jason's simple but color-coordinated
sweater, pants and shoes suggest he is in some sort of uniform.
Jason's posture elevates him above the woman he is kissing.
He has ramrod straight posture.
Bride and Broom. Romance Comics included other
stories with policemen in high-peaked uniform caps.
"Bride and Broom" (Young Love #90, December 1971) has its young cop
fully done up in a spit and polish policeman's uniform,
complete with badge, epaulettes, collar insignia, and peaked officer's cap.
It is drawn by John Rosenberger, and written by Jack Oleck.
One overhead shot in the diner (page 4) shows the uniform cap from above:
it is roughly octagonal in outline.
As in "Play With Fire", the cap has a highly shiny black vinyl visor,
and is full of precisely realized visual detail.
In both stories, the cap is the central attribute of the hero,
expressing both his authority and his sexuality.
The splash panel shows the hero as one of three identically clad policemen.
This establishes his outfit as a true uniform.
The uniformed hero is described as "over-sized" and "overgrown" (page 4).
Dr. Masters' Desperate Decision. "Dr. Masters' Desperate Decision"
(The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters #1, August 1964),
from Archie Adventure Comics.
Like "Bride and Broom", this medical drama also has art by John Rosenberger.
It too features uniformed police, with peaked caps with gleaming black vinyl visors
(Part I, pages 1, 2, 3, 5).
There is something authoritative about all these curving, precisely shaped and formed visors.
Enormous care has been taken with all of them. They want a recognition of their wearers' authority.
As in "Bride and Broom", the cops are in a group, with more than one man in identical uniform.
In all these tales, "Play With Fire", "Bride and Broom" and "Dr. Masters' Desperate Decision",
the uniformed men have powerful, glamorized motorized vehicles, while the protagonist is on foot.
The uniformed men show up uninvited, invading the protagonist's space,
and taking over control of the situation.
Later there is a uniformed ambulance driver (Part I, page 15).
He too wears a visored peaked cap, drives a glamorized vehicle,
and appears while the protagonist is on foot.
About the vehicles in "Dr. Masters' Desperate Decision":
Both vehicles have square, boxy, rectilinear fronts.
- The police car even has tail fins.
- The ambulance looks hugely powerful. The cross on its door is precisely positioned
to be a phallic symbol for the driver. The flashing light on top and a siren on the hood
are also phallic symbols. The ambulance is shown against other phallic symbols,
such as a fence post, street light and chimney.
The construction workers wear identical rounded spherical hard hats (Part II).
It is like a team uniform. These too have a phallic quality.
The construction workers operate vehicles like cranes and elevators on high-rise sites.
Can Love Last Forever?. John Rosenberger sometimes depicted men's powerful cars:
"Can Love Last Forever?" (Girls' Love Stories #144, July 1969) (page 2).
The car has the big boxy front that Rosenberger prefers.
That car is contrasted with a rival's canoe.
The canoe sounds less impressive at first than a car, but the rival is
also given a phallic oar that suggests he has plenty of appeal.
The macho man with a powerful car and his rival with a canoe in "Can Love Last Forever?",
anticipate the motorcyclist and his rival with a sailboat in "Play With Fire".
Run from Love. "Run from Love" (Girls' Love Stories #56, August 1958)
has its fisherman hero in a giant high-peaked cap. It's black and white, like his shirt and scarf.
Just Another Groupie.
See also the uniformed cops doing crowd control at a rock concert in
"Just Another Groupie" (Young Romance #202, November-December 1974) (page 2).
The pencils are perhaps by Art Saaf. A crowd of screaming girl fans is held back by stalwart cops.
This tale, like "That Special Man" (Love Stories #152, October - November 1973),
focuses on a rock band and the women who date them.
In both stories, we see the male rock band performing as a group.
Like the hero with his prestigious roles in "Play With Fire", this group has high social status.
The police in "Just Another Groupie" are parallel to the rock group:
they are a male group with both special clothes and status
as a group of Social Authority figures.
Another parallel: both the police and the rock group carefully, deliberately plan ahead.
The police and the rock group are allied,
with the police providing crowd control for the rock group.
The policemen's super-sharp uniform caps show all sorts of careful styling,
with badges, high peaks, center bulges, and curving shiny black visors that can shade their eyes.
The cops we see all look young, maybe as young as the rock group. Maybe even younger.
These cops are a bunch of young pretty-boys, who enjoy being dressed up in
their Social Authority Figure uniforms. Despite their youth, the cops
have broad shoulders, and very long arms with which to form barriers against the groupies.
The arms are almost supernaturally strong, in their ability to hold the crowd back.
Are these men real cops? Or are they private security guards, carefully dressed to look like police?
Maybe they are employees of the rock group itself.
Or a sports team giving its members a special treat. It is hard to tell.
"Just Another Groupie" is a modified version of an earlier tale
"Love Is a Game...for Two" (Girls' Romances #145, December 1969).
The cover for "Love Is a Game...for Two" shows the rock group,
its singer with his guitar, and well-built uniformed police doing crowd control.
The traditional police uniforms are designed to convey Authority.
They have shoulder epaulettes and high-peaked caps.
These cops are considerably older than the young police in "Just Another Groupie". Art: Mike Sekowsky.
Although these stories are apparently non-political, at least when looked at on the surface,
they subliminally evoke two great political images of the day.
The rock stars are a glamorized version of hippies and liberals, while the police executing crowd control
at the concert recall riot police controlling student protesters.
The uniformed, disciplined cops represent right wing, male authority. The rock stars express left wing, male sexuality.
The police are just as glamorized as the rock stars. Both are slicked-up versions of key political images of the day.
One is liberal, the other, conservative. But here the two groups are in deep collaboration.
Like other romance comic books about rock, these tales have ancestors in
Jimmy Olsen tales about Music.
See the two uniformed men guarding singer Jimmy in
"The Rock 'n' Roll Superman" (Jimmy Olsen #32, October 1958) (page 6).
Jimmy is guarded while singing in a stadium.
And outside a stage door from fans mobbing him, as in these romance comic tales.
The uniformed handsome men at the stage door wear peaked caps with shiny visors.
So This Is Love. "So This Is Love" (Dear Lonely Heart #1, March 1951).
Heroine Katy Shine keeps getting in the most awkward situations, from which she
needs to be rescued by policeman Patrick Murphy. The splash shows Patrick
all dressed up in his sharp uniform, holding his nightstick at a jaunty angle.
Wings on My Heart. "Wings on My Heart" (Our Love Story #16, April 1972)
has a definitive look at a sharp pilot's uniform on its splash.
Art: Mike Sekowsky. The tale was reprinted (My Love #28, May 1974).
Wings of Destiny. "Wings of Destiny" (Green Lantern #7, July-August 1961)
also opens with a spectacular image of a uniformed pilot. The dressy uniform is police-like in structure:
it has four patch pockets, a belt and peaked lapels. The pilot wears a high-peaked uniform cap.
The cap is un-police-like, with elaborate gold bands, insignia and metal rim attaching the visor.
Art: Gil Kane. Both on the splash and page 6, we always see the handsome pilot linked to phallic symbols.
Justice Traps the Guilty. Jack Kirby's cover for the first issue of the comic book
"Justice Traps the Guilty" (Volume 2, No. 1, October-November 1947)
shows three identically uniformed cops. They are handsome men in sharp uniforms.
Death Flies East. See also the uniformed pilot shown in the illustration for
the prose mystery short story
"Death Flies East" (American Magazine, July 1934) by Philip Wylie.
Both story and illustration are reprinted in the anthology American Murders (1986)
edited by Jon L. Breen and Rita A. Breen. Art: Herbert Paus.
Riot Call. "Riot Call" is a short story by George S. Brooks
(Woman's Home Companion Magazine, October 1933). The title illustration shows
motorcycle cops in excellent dressy gray uniforms.
These include shiny gray leather boots, matching leather gauntlets and Sam Browne harness belts.
Their gray uniforms and huge police caps are a shade darker than this leather gear.
The well-built cops look extraordinarily classy and authoritative in the sharp uniforms.
The cops pilot specially shielded red motorcycles. Art: Herbert Paus.
Reprinted at American Art Archives.
Oddly, while a police cap is drawn above the story's title, it differs in both shape and
color scheme from the uniform caps worn by the officers in the illustrations.
Brooks wrote a pacifist play Spread Eagle (1927) and many short stories, but is not well-known today.
JC Chasez. JC Chasez of 'N SYNC has been photographed in spectacular outfits,
often associated with riders, drivers or pilots:
- A bright orange-and-black NASA astronaut's jumpsuit.
- A 19th Century naval officer's tunic with columns of vertical silver buttons.
- A US Flag shirt while sitting on a motorcycle and pointing straight at the viewer like Uncle Sam Wants You for
a cover of Teen People (November 2001). The Flag shirt has over a dozen erect red and white stripes.
Star patches underscore Chasez' broad shoulders. And highlight the shirt's collar and cuffs.
(Compare the Flag-inspired uniforms in 1940's sports pulp magazines.) Chasez is in dark glasses, denim jeans and boots.
Another member of the group next to him is uniformed in a black leather motorcycle jacket.
- A complexly curved silver vest.
- Two different straightjackets, one worn in a padded cell.
- A dark green nylon jumpsuit, and a green nylon Air Force pilot's jacket.
- A green denim jacket with both pilot's wings and Sheriff's Department patches.
- A white uniform shirt with large patch pockets and epaulettes.
Unusually, it is unclear if these complex patch pockets actually open.
- Blue cowboy shirts.
- Shiny dark blue gear, including a huge puffy jumpsuit and a close-fitting motorcycle jacket with
broad shoulders and an erect collar. The gleaming plastic jacket has a festive and high tech look. Its numerous seams are conspicuous.
- A black leather jacket with unusual gold-copper zippers and trim, instead of the usual silver.
The bulky jacket has big patch pockets on the chest, and yawning zippered pockets on the sleeves.
- A black leather motorcycle jacket resembling Marlon Brando's Perfecto jacket in The Wild One.
It has a definite bad-boy look. It's designed to make his arms look big, bulky, rough and shiny.
- A gleaming, dressy black leather jacket with black zippers, and a black metal snap on the collar.
- An upscale shiny black plastic jacket full of strictly vertical gold zippers.
It has elements of a pilot's jacket, including a gold-zippered sleeve pocket.
- A uniform of a sleeveless black leather vest and matching black leather pants, worn while exploring classic cars.
A silver zipper fastens the front of the vest. There is also a black leather tab at the waist with a silver snap.
The leather trousers have a silver zippered pocket, and ribbed knees, like a spacesuit.
Chasez is not wearing a shirt under the close-fitting vest. Or anything else other than black leather shoes.
- A V-necked shirt or sweater, made of a smooth expanse of black leather.
- A shiny black leather jacket, fashioned like a typical denim jacket. It has no zippers.
Its chest patch pockets look just like those on a casual denim jacket. The whole thing is an intriguing visual "pun":
a jacket in one fabric (dressy black leather) following the style traditions of another fabric (casual denim).
There is a uniform-like quality to the jacket: a neatness, the big patch pockets placed with precision.
The strong vertical lines leading up to the pockets makes them phallic symbols.
Chasez wore this for a photo shoot, where he holds a marionette for an album cover.
- A traditionally tailored tuxedo, made out of a shiny midnight blue fabric, with broad shoulders and huge black satin peaked lapels.
- A broad-shouldered tuxedo made out of smooth black velvet with satin lapels.
- A well-dressed businessman's black suit and tie, worn with an epauletted black coat.
Chasez wears sports uniforms:
Chasez sometimes wears unusual cloth uniforms. Most of these have common features, and one suspects they come from a common source:
- A rugby uniform shirt and suede stomper shoes, with Chasez lying high up on a large heap of snare drums.
The blue uniform shirt and the stompers are at once clean cut and aggressive.
They have a 1970's retro look, two items popular then.
The rugby shirt has uniform-style numbers on its chest and arms.
Chasez was around 25 when the photo was taken, which perhaps explains the number 25 on the uniform.
Chasez wears soldier's metal dog tags on a chain around his neck, emphasizing he is uniformed.
The snare drums are bound tightly with cords and wires. Two large drumsticks with big heads are strapped to his wrists.
The big stompers and drumstick heads are yellow, the rugby uniform is blue,
and the drums are red-and-white and occasionally blue, yellow or gold: primary colors.
Both the drumsticks and the drums are phallic symbols. Chasez is in iconography reserved for rock stars:
uniformed, elevated and surrounded by phallic symbols. It's an image of happiness.
- Sports uniforms including an ultra-shiny, aggressive looking black vinyl Adidas jacket with white trim,
a gentle, inviting baby blue Adidas jacket, Adidas boxing outfits, a friendly yellow Adidas jacket with erect collar,
bright red New York Yankees gear, and a bright red Nike warm-up suit with white trim.
- An official shiny nylon football jersey, in an intense, fascinating dark red color.
The large number 81 in white and yellow is on the chest and sleeves, Chasez is shown recording music in this.
- A shiny black nylon hockey jersey, with red trim. It has the number 88 outlined in white and red.
- A clean-cut all-white tennis outfit with white dress shirt, sweater, trousers and tennis shoes.
It looks like something worn by wealthy men in the 1920's, when such white clothes became a craze among the elite.
Justin Bieber. The later pop singer Justin Bieber wore a one-piece black jumpsuit for his 2012 Believe concerts in Las Vegas.
It is shaped like a pilot's uniform jumpsuit.
The suit is made out of shiny black fabric with a leather look. But the fabric also has the ability
to stretch as the singer moves, in a way that leather usually does not.
Key features are gold metal:
- A dark green cloth outfit full of pockets and zippers, guaranteed to recall an Army uniform.
It comes with matching visored cap and trousers, making it a true uniform.
It has a huge erect stand-up collar, a stripe on the sleeves, and stripes on the pant legs.
Contrasting red-and-yellow stripe insignia on the cuffs look like officers' marks of rank.
Gold insignia are on the cap, and a gold zipper on the front of a jacket.
A rectangle on the left sleeve suggests Sergeant's chevrons. Bulging patches on the legs suggest flared breeches.
The whole uniform is an ingeniously abstract version of a traditional uniform.
- Clean cut pop singer JC Chasez had fun wearing a fake decadent outfit, a tough blue denim jacket and pants
that represent a rebel biker's uniform. The biggest of the sleeve patches contains the word DESTROY,
with the central T turned into a huge upward arrow. It is very phallic. Another patch is badge shaped, towards his wrist.
It has his initials J and C, on either side of a stylized central T again. The deliberately worn-looking denim
is full of elaborate stitching, including the cuffs and the pants pockets. The button holes are outlined roughly in brown,
which makes them more conspicuous, and also creates the impression they are fraying.
The uniform jacket has big silver buttons up the front, on the chest patch pockets, and the cuffs.
The stitching recalls Chasez' green Army-like uniform. So do rectangular regions and patches on the uniform.
The rear pants pocket is divided into an upper and lower rectangle, in a way that is unique.
Chasez wears the uniform with a cloth visored black cap, visored caps often being worn with uniforms.
And tightly fastened black leather wristbands.
The right arm wristband is full of silver snaps, the wider left arm wristband is full of many buckle holes.
Such black leather wristbands, often worn by heavy metal rock stars, offer Instant Decadence.
- Another denim outfit with pirate flag insignia on the sleeve and a black collar.
The zippered jacket is artificially aged to the point of being frayed and unravelling.
- A close-fitting brown leather motorcycle jacket with gold zippers,
and leather straps with gold metal snaps on the erect collar, cuffs and waist.
There are two gleaming gold snaps each, on both the collar and waist.
The brown is a different shade from the brown used in leather bomber jackets.
The jacket is designed to look upscale. The smooth, tight-fitting jacket has an elite, patrician quality.
There are hints of a uniformed authority figure.
The khaki cloth pants recall the Army and rebel biker uniforms. They have rectangular patches, sometimes
of the same color, sometimes in brown. Some regions have elaborate stitching. The khaki is often discolored and irregular in tone.
Chasez wears it with a big leather belt containing endless buckle holes, recalling one of the leather wristbands
he wore with his rebel biker uniform.
- A white cloth uniform with numerous black rectangular patches on the jacket sleeves, cuffs, pockets and collar.
The jacket contains silver zippers and big silver rings embedded in the cloth, matched by a smaller ring embedded in the collar.
There is "unnecessary" but conspicuous ornamentation, such as white cloth ties on the metal zipper handles,
and white triangular arrows on the trouser pockets. Different shaped arrows are on the chest.
The elaborate metal rings, the black rectangles and the white ornamentation contribute to the "uniform" feel.
All are placed with precision.
Both Bieber's and Chasez' black pilot uniforms have large patch pockets on the left sleeve.
These pockets both have a large gold zipper on the left hand edge of the pocket.
Both pockets seem to be modeled on the US Air Force MA-1 and MA-2 jet-pilot jackets.
- The shiny black suit is full of zippers. They are gold colored rather than silver, recalling Chasez' shiny black pilot jackets
with gold zippers. One huge zipper goes straight down the front of Bieber's suit.
Others form diagonal pockets on the chest recalling biker jackets, and zippers on the sleeves and legs.
The zippers have large, conspicuous gold handles.
- The trousers of the suit have strap fasteners on the waist sides, to tighten the waist. Their snaps too are gold metal.
There are a whole row of gold snaps: not needed to make the waist actually fit Bieber, but they make clear how the fasteners work.
And add to the elaborate appearance of the suit. There also seem to be strap fasteners with gold snaps, just below the sleeve cuffs of the suit.
Cool As Ice. Rapper Vanilla Ice wore an orange jacket in the film Cool As Ice (1991)
that also has features of such jet-pilot jackets. It too has a pocket of the left hand sleeve,
with a black zipper up its left-hand side. Angled snap pockets are in front, and the front zipper has diagonal quitting:
all features of such Air Force jackets. Air Force MA-1 jackets have narrow, tight cloth cuffs and waist.
So does the orange jacket. But its cuffs and waist are black-and-white striped, like a school athletic award jacket.
It's an unusual mix.
Vanilla Ice wore the jacket while riding his motorcycle, keeping the rider/pilot tradition of such uniform jackets.
Avirex. Avirex markets a sleek looking version of the MA-1 jacket, made of nylon.
The jet-black version is especially good. It's model number is an official-sounding AVF19BO03.
Taylor Lautner. Taylor Lautner wore a black leather version of such pilot jackets, on the cover of
Entertainment Weekly (#1078, December 4, 2009). It has the zippered pocket on the left sleeve.
The jacket's many zippers look both silver in their handles and dark, nearly black in the actual zippers.
This makes the handles conspicuous and shiny, while the zippers look ominous and intimidating.
The leather is heavy, tough, black and shiny. It has many folds, looking like a jacket that has been worn on the job.
The elbows and forearms look especially heavy. They might be made of a subtly different kind of leather than the rest of the jacket.
The jacket keeps to pilot tradition by having tight cloth cuffs: black, in keeping with the all-black look of the jacket.
Lautner wears it with a black tee shirt and jeans.
Also uniform-like was a black leather jacket Lautner wore to the Scream Awards.
The jacket has four precisely positioned patch pockets, each fastened with a large silver snap.
Additional rectangular regions are outlined at the waist, and above the left-hand patch pocket.
More silver snaps are on the erect collar and large cuffs. The jacket front is opened by a matching silver zipper.
Josh Duhamel. Actor Josh Duhamel has also been photographed in a black leather jacket inspired by MA-1 pilot jackets.
It has the MA-1 style, left-sleeve complex patch pocket with a vertical zipper along the side.
Aeronautica Militare. See also the zippered sleeve pockets of the Aeronautica Militare series of pilot jackets.
These gleamingly shiny leather jackets often have other zippers and patch pockets too.
Actor Trevor Donovan wore a black leather jacket from this series for a magazine spread.
Days of Our Lives. The TV soap opera Days of Our Lives (June 3, 1988)
showed a ceremony where series police characters Roman (Drake Hogestyn) and Abe (James Reynolds) got promoted.
The officers are in remarkably classy dress uniforms. See the photo at
We Love Soaps.
The uniforms are like a naval officer's, only jet black instead of navy blue.
The extra-sharp uniforms are worn with white dress shirt and tie.
Silver badges gleam on their chests and high-peaked uniform caps.
Conspicuous silver rims on the uniform caps connect their shiny black visors.
The authority-figure senior officer is speaking into a phallic silver microphone.
The cap rims, like the microphone, seem like machinery.
It was a 1980's dream to get really dressed-up. These uniforms are an example.
Cannon. The TV detective series Cannon had the episode The Seventh Grave (1973).
The local police chief of a small town, played by Robert Donner, wears a sharp all-black uniform.
Leather Jackets in Film
Leather jackets became popular in Hollywood films in the 1940's:
They are largely worn by tough working class good
guys on the edge of the law, like Boston Blackie in One Mysterious Night.
There are hints in most of these films that there is something exciting
and not quite respectable about men wearing such jackets - which
probably made them more popular than ever in real life. Blackie
is a reformed crook, the heroes of Railroaded! and
99 River Street are innocent but tough working men falsely accused
of crimes, the hero of The Street With No Name is a government
agent going undercover as a crook in a gang, etc. They are worn by
high-powered criminals in the Raoul Walsh films.
- Young People (Allan Dwan, 1940),
- The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)
- Star Dust (Walter Lang, 1940),
- Crime Does Not Pay: Know Your Money (Joseph M. Newman, 1940),
- High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941),
- Saboteur (Alfred Hitchcock, 1942),
- Isle of Forgotten Sins (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1943),
- One Mysterious Night (Budd Boetticher, 1944),
- The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1945),
- Boston Blackie's Rendezvous (Arthur Dreifuss, 1945),
- San Quentin (Gordon Douglas, 1946),
- The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946),
- Live Wires (Phil Karlson, 1946),
- Railroaded! (Anthony Mann, 1947),
- Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947),
- Driftwood (Allan Dwan, 1947),
- Web of Danger (Philip Ford, 1947),
- Backlash (Eugene Forde, 1947),
- The Street With No Name (William Keighley, 1948),
- Cry of the City (Robert Siodmak, 1948),
- Call Northside 777 (Henry Hathaway, 1948),
- The Undercover Man (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949),
- White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949),
- Knock on Any Door (Nicholas Ray, 1949),
- Champion (Mark Robson, 1949),
- Illegal Entry (Frederick De Cordova, 1949),
- 711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950),
- Between Midnight and Dawn (Gordon Douglas, 1950),
- The Man From Planet X (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951),
- A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951),
- 99 River Street (Phil Karlson, 1953),
- Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955),
- 5 Against the House (Phil Karlson, 1955),
- Creature with the Atom Brain (Edward L. Cahn, 1955),
- It's Always Sunday (Allan Dwan, 1956),
- While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang, 1956),
- Bus Stop (Joshua Logan, 1956),
- Death in Small Doses (Joseph M. Newman, 1957),
- King Creole (Michael Curtiz, 1958),
- Stakeout on Dope Street (Irvin Kershner, 1958),
- The Scarface Mob (Phil Karlson, 1959)
- The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (Budd Boetticher, 1960),
- Most Dangerous Man Alive (Allan Dwan, 1961).
Leather jackets are also sometimes seen as clothes for young men,
something they can wear instead of a suit. Suits were more required
for fully adult men. In such early films as Young People (1940) and
Star Dust (1940) the jackets are young men's wear. Gwen Wakeling designed the costumes
for both films.
Both before and during this period, leather jackets worn by cab drivers, pilots, fisherman, etc.,
as part of their profession. These are not usually listed above, although such crime films
as Illegal Entry with pilot Howard Duff and 99 River Street with
cab driver John Payne are included. So are Death in Small Doses
with truck driver Chuck Connors, and the telephone linemen in The Scarface Mob.
Leather clothes show up in historical dramas in this era: the noble-but-tough doctor in
Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946) wears a long leather coat and boots.
Tyrone Power wears leather coats in The Razor's Edge (Edmund Goulding, 1946),
both as a coal miner and as a disciple in an Indian ashram.
The police of various cities wear leather jackets in:
They are followed by the black leather jackets of LAPD cops in:
- The Long Voyage Home (John Ford, 1940).
- Dillinger (Max Nosseck, 1945),
- The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1945),
- Step By Step (Phil Rosen, 1946),
- Desperate (Anthony Mann, 1947),
- The Undercover Man (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949),
- Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949),
- Cover Up (Alfred E. Green, 1949),
- Between Midnight and Dawn (Gordon Douglas, 1950),
- Scandal Sheet (Phil Karlson, 1952)
- Count the Hours (Don Siegel, 1953)
- Shield for Murder (Howard W. Koch, Edmond O'Brien, 1954)
- 5 Against the House (Phil Karlson, 1955)
- Death in Small Doses (Joseph M. Newman, 1957)
Jeffrey Hunter's firefighter wears a leather jacket over his US Forest Service uniform in
Red Skies of Montana (Joseph M. Newman, 1952),
and rides a motorcycle.
- Bodyguard (Richard Fleischer, 1948),
- Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950),
- The Ring (Kurt Neumann, 1952),
- The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang, 1953),
- Code Two (Fred Wilcox, 1953),
Article with Photos.
- Them! (Gordon Douglas, 1954),
- Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955),
- The Killer Is Loose (Budd Boetticher, 1955).
The motorcyclists in It Always Rains on Sunday (Robert Hamer, 1947) and
They Caught the Ferry (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1948) wears leather coats.
Villainous-but-glamorous bikers wear leather in Thérèse Raquin
(Marcel Carné, 1953) and The Wild One (Laslo Benedek, 1953),
a film which cemented a sexy bad boy image for men in leather jackets.
A villainous hot-rodder wears a shiny black leather jacket in
Hot Rod Girl (Leslie H. Martinson, 1956).
This is from costume designer Tommy Thompson, who also did the young hoodlum in
Step Child (Budd Boetticher, 1954), an episode of Public Defender.
Thompson's black leather gear is usually gleaming and shiny. It can look transgressive.
Tommy Thompson did the police uniforms and crooks' black leather coats and jackets
on the TV series Highway Patrol.
See the motorcycle jacket in Mother's March (1958) and the long leather coat in
Auto Press (1959).
Not to mention the motorcycle cop's big boots in Hostage Officer (1958).
Heroes of some early science fiction films wear pilot's dark leather jackets:
Hugh O'Brian in Rocketship X-M (Kurt Neumann, 1950),
Robert Clarke in The Man from Planet X (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951).
Early, pre-1935 movies had a number of characters in black leather clothes.
See this discussion in my article on Fritz Lang.
Award jackets are also known as varsity jackets. They are everywhere in films. As GQ magazine reminds us,
"The good-looking guy in a leather-sleeve varsity jacket is an iconic American image
that's beaten into us since the first day of high school.
Hell, Evans himself played that very type in the 2001 classic Not Another Teen Movie."
From the article "Chris Evans Is the American Style Hero We Deserve" by Jake Woolf (GQ, April 26, 2016).
Evans' jacket is blue, with light red lettering and salmon leather sleeves. This sets up a vibrant blue-red combination.
Colors of leather sleeves in award jackets have different effects.
White sleeves make men look classically athletic, elite and clean-cut.
Black leather sleeves can flaunt the aggression of motorcycle jackets.
Avirex. Avirex used to make all-leather varsity jackets.
These often had years made up of phallic numbers:
These Avirex varsity jackets have an inner tag that says "Varsity Club Membership", followed by a long number.
- One referred to "Spider Rock 74".
- Another was labeled "N.B.A.", flanked by the years 71 and 72.
- A gleaming, all black leather jacket has a flag-inspired Stars-and-Stripes badge
that points out that Avirex was "Established 1975".
This jacket has a tough-looking zipper, rather than snaps. These jackets are very assertive looking.
Adidas. Adidas manufactured a Varsity Jacket with a Star Wars tie-in.
The "team" they celebrated was the Dark Side Imperials.
The sharp black jackets had white trim, with white leather sleeves and slash pockets.
Chest letters featured a prominent 77, the year Star Wars (1977) was released.
Adidas also made a sharp blue jacket. The black sleeve has large stars on it.
The hero of the film Johnny Be Good (1988) wore one.
Adidas made a spectacular tank suit for work-outs, shiny polyester & lycra in vibrating red and blue.
See "Boy Toys", GQ (May 1988) (page 250), photographed by Constance Hansen.
There is something uniform-like to this suit, with its bright colors and giant red logo, right in the center of the chest.
The massively muscular hero is photographed on a bright red "recumbent bicycle" exercise machine, something also worth seeing.
The bicycle looks demanding to ride.
Adidas made shiny track suits in the 1970's. These included matching jackets and pants,
giving the outfits a "uniform" quality. The royal blue suit was perhaps the best color.
Actor Richard Hatch was photographed in one. John Beck made a TV commercial in a suit.
But the red was also popular. The shiny black outfit and a dressy gray one were also imposing.
Guess. The Guess company made its own letterman award jacket.
See the fashion magazine M (November 1991) (page 25).
The jacket is all-leather, and says "GUESS US" on the back in raised letters.
The jacket is in various shades of khaki, and has a definite uniform feel.
Comic Book Adaptations. Red leather costumes have been popular among comic book hero adaptations:
Off screen, Ben Affleck has been spotted on weekends wearing a sharp red leather jacket.
- Ben Affleck in the film Daredevil.
- Roy Harper, the Red Arrow (played by Colton Haynes) in the TV series Arrow.
- The title character (played by Grant Gustin) in the TV series The Flash.
Torque. Red leather motorcycle suits were worn by
two of the stars Martin Henderson and Will Yun Lee in the biker film Torque (2004).
The costumes were designed by Elisabetta Beraldo.
The Romantics. Red leather versions of dressy business suits were worn
by the pop group The Romantics on the cover of their debut album (1980).
One can imagine an alternate universe where such suits were worn by top business executives.
The group wore them with differently colored but similarly shaped shirts and ties.
This gives them a precise, uniformed look.
The suits, shirts and ties also echo the way 1960's rock groups would appear in matching business suits.
The Romantics wore identical shiny black boots. The boots are smooth, curved and gleam like dress shoes.
The team sported elaborately, precisely coifed hair, like Art Saaf's comic book rock stars.
Bruno Campos. Brazilian actor Bruno Campos worn a shiny red leather Missoni suit in
People (November 16, 1998) (page 134). Photography: Robert Sebree.
Perhaps paradoxically, Campos is much better dressed than anyone else in the issue,
with the possible exception of fashion mogul Kenneth Cole (page 104).
Red leather is a classy but underutilized look.
The red shade is a touch light, with a bit of orange. It conveys a youthful, festive look.
Goodfellas. Ray Liotta wore a dark red leather blazer jacket in the film Goodfellas (1990).
Such a blazer both makes the character look like a bit of a roughneck - and yet glamorous too.
It's not something that would be worn by someone upper class.
The dark red color is an unusual shade: not a typical straightforward red.
It is visually interesting, and attracts the eye.
Schott Brothers. In the 1970's it was easy to buy red leather jackets.
Schott Brothers, who made the Perfecto, sold leather jackets in a number of colors, including bright red.
Gray leather can be highly effective looking. It combines gray, a power color for men, with leather.
Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck wore a gray leather jacket in a shampoo TV commercial (2003). The jacket has a stand-up collar.
Ricky Martin. Ricky Martin liked to perform in shiny gray leather pants.
He often paired them with a brown shirt filled with criss-cross lines. The shirt had a see-through effect.
It's unclear whether it is actually see-though, or whether it simply gaies that illusion.
Ricky Martin also liked an ensemble of gray ribbed sweater, black leather pants, and shiny black dress shoes.
Martin was photographed in a heavy gray winter coat, bulky in the shoulders and chest.
He wore shiny gray gloves that might be leather, or might be some lustrous high-tech vinyl or plastic.
The shiny gloves call attention to his gloved fingers, which seem designed to look phallic.
Martin has a pair of light gray track pants. He wore these for seated portraits, rather than stage work.
Kyle Lowder. A photo shows musician-actor Kyle Lowder singing on-stage in
gleaming dark gray leather pants and a shiny silver shirt.
It's very pop star-ish. The silver shirt almost looks like armor.
He's singing as part of a group, that is dancing behind him.
He also wears a gray leather shirt and pants, with lace-up boots.
Other photos show him in a gray leather jacket, thin and elegant, as street wear.
Paul Satterfield. Actor Paul Satterfield appeared in magazine Soap Opera Update (December 1, 1992) (page 42),
wearing a gray leather jacket over his bare chest. The jacket is simple: mainly a huge expanse
of high grade gray leather. The gray color and smooth leather make him look unexpectedly classy and powerful.
Gray Lensman. The cover of Astounding Science Fiction (October 1939) featured Gray Lensman by E.E. Smith.
The Lensman hero wears a gray metallic futuristic uniform,
complete with such uniform features as flared trousers and erect collar.
Tall gleaming gray boots go up to his knees.
The boots look like leather, but it's unclear whether the rest of the uniform is.
Art: Hubert Rogers.
Caesar. Jules César (François Roussillon, 2011) is a film version of
the opera Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) (1724) by Handel. The costumes are by Laurent Pelly.
The costume for Julius Caesar is outstanding. It's a macho version of an Ancient Roman warrior's uniform.
Only it is made nearly entirely of a soft gray leather. Both the color and the fabric look terrific.
The uniform has a sculpted front, that echoes its wearer's muscles: something found in Roman armor.
Singer Lawrence Zazzo has tremendous presence in this.
Nocona Boots. A magazine ad for Nocona Boots illustrates a pair of their gray boots.
The boots mix shiny silver gray sections, with a dark gray shaft that is nearly black. (1978).
Art: Alex Ebel. Art.
JC Chasez. Singer JC Chasez liked to perform in gray sweaters or shirts. Also:
- He once wore a gray sweatshirt and gray camouflage cap. The uniform cap is tall, curving and with a big curved visor.
- A light gray jumpsuit in shiny nylon, full of gold zippers and metal snaps on the collar.
This was worn with white dress shirt and dark tie.
- A shiny dark gray jacket, like a pilot's jacket, worn with gray tee shirt and tight gray jeans.
- A dressy gray jacket with epaulettes, worn over a gray sweater and shirt.
The sweater looks like one a college professor would wear as a vest.
- A gray track suit with an erect zippered collar, worn with gray sneakers.
- A dressy sports coat in a light gray plaid.
2Be3. When the French pop band 2Be3 got together in 2004,
Frank wore a shiny gray leather jacket with a gray tee shirt and light gray cargo pants.
The straps and buckles of the pants, and the large buttons of the leather jacket, attract the eye.
So does a symbolic circle on the tee shirt front.
The outfit was both sporty and surprisingly dressy. The gray is echoed by a silver outdoor staircase.
Photos: Gregoire Mahler.
Kurt Lundqvist. Contemporary artist Kurt Lundqvist likes gray clothes, where other artists might choose black:
Silver Suit. Silver suits were sold commercially in recent years.
Their fabric looks unique. Usually they were fashioned into excellently fitting suits,
shaped just like a well-dressed executive's business suit. Only made out of their gleaming fabric.
Actor Adam J. Harrington wore one on
A Dance with Death (2012), an episode of the TV detective series Castle.
He played a host-presenter on a TV dance contest show.
He acted very much like a standard announcer, while wearing this special suit.
A scene showed him stepping forward to announce the contest,
while geysers of fireworks erupted on either side of him.
- A skin-diver in a dark gray rubber wetsuit, loaded with gray-and-silver equipment and gear.
He's sitting on the edge of a yellow rubber raft, that has metal rings embedded in it.
- A workman using a jackhammer to penetrate a stone wall, is in big gray gloves, gray shirt, and torn gray jeans.
He also wears a yellow-and-red vest, and yellow hardhat.
- "Rico on the Ball" shows a soccer player posing in gleaming gray shorts and matching Nike shoes.
His shiny red shirt has yellow trim and precisely positioned patches.
- A rodeo star wrestling a bull is in dark gray cowboy shirt and hat.
- A man leading out a horse wears a long gleaming gray leather apron.
- A man in a dark gray tee shirt, with SECURITY in light gray across the chest.
He wears a sharp gray leather jacket with erect collar and shiny silver zipper.
- A man with a surfboard and long gray swim trunks that go from his waist to his knees.
The trunks have a glazed, rubbery look.
A sponsor's name is along the side, indicating the trunks are part of a sports uniform.
- "At the Fight Den". A boxer working out at a gym, in silver metallic trunks.
Brazil's Beto Malfacini has been photographed wearing a similar silver suit.
A different kind of silver clothes are in Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank (2008),
an episode of the TV detective series Monk. A "living statue" is a human pretending to the a statue.
The statue here wears a silver military uniform. The sharp uniform has patch pockets, and a giant high-peaked cap.
The silver clothes are very shiny. The statue is played by actor Jonathan Chase.
Photos. The silver clothes look heavier and tougher
than the soft-looking silver suit on Castle.
Motorcycle Police. Some modern-day countries have motorcycle police in sharp gray leather uniforms.
These countries are all democracies, and no political statement is being made here.
I simply think these uniforms are spectacular:
- The Politi in Norway, the national civilian police force.
- The Feldjäger, the military police in Germany.
- The Militärstreife, the military police in Austria.
All three uniforms are often extended by white belts. All the uniforms have conspicuous epaulettes.
The Austrian and German jackets seem to flow into erect collars.
The German uniforms have what look like hard patches on the shoulders and upper arms, almost like armor.
They make the wearers' shoulders look big.
The uniforms of the Politi in Norway are the closest to black. And maybe should be considered black.
The Politi jackets often are double-yoked in back.
The officers carry equipment holders on their belts - that are the exact color of their leather uniforms.
They also have dangling rings full of keys.
A photo shows a handsome man in a Perfecto-style leather motorcycle jacket,
talking to a Politi officer in his head-to-toe leather uniform.
The good-looking man looks definitely subordinate and subservient to the officer.
The man wears a white muscle shirt with pink letters and a plunging neckline under his biker jacket.
This recalls the scoop-neckline sweater worn under his jacket,
by the subordinate, mesmerized young dancer in "That Special Man".
By contrast, the officer is in a pure uniform, from his neck to his feet.
In photos, men wearing all these uniforms tend to look happy and pleased with themselves. And why not?
The uniforms are very flattering.
Shawshank Redemption. The film The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
shows how effective dark gray uniforms can be. Costume Design: Elizabeth McBride.
The leather "Sam Browne belt" chest harnesses are also gray. Like most Sam Browne belts, they have a double-pronged belt buckle at the waist.
They also have a smaller but conspicuous buckle, part-way up the leather strap that runs diagonally across the chest.
The men's caps explore a wide variety of different shapes. They are not all alike.
The guard Captain (Clancy Brown) has a gold badge and gold metal trim on his uniform.
His men have silver badges and trim. This expresses a Chain of Command.
Gray Tuxedos. Gray tuxes are cool. They can look dressy:
- Tony Orlando wore a good one on an episode of his TV series in the 1970's.
- Countertenor Jakub Józef Orlinski wore a delightfully dressy gray tuxedo for a concert.
It looked like a really good business suit.
Sportscasters: The 1990's
CNN. In the 1990's sports uniforms were sharper than ever,
and both sportscasters and coaches still wore classy suits.
CNN Sports Tonight announcers always wear the best looking suits.
Vince Cellini has a well tailored light gray suit.
This suit is mixed in with some iridescent silver fabric: the suit glows.
Vince Cellini's co-host Van Earl Wright is also very well dressed.
Graphics for the show associated the two with sleek, shiny black plastic phones.
Another young announcer, Barry LeBrock, wears what looks like the ultimate executive suit.
It is dark gray, pinstriped, peak lapeled, and with a vest. He looks like a top executive in it.
But the suit has a special property. It is made out of some smooth, shiny, reflective material I have never seen.
The whole suit looks like a dark, shiny mirror. It is very avant-garde.
Of course, it is the perfect dark gray of the power-suited business man, and perfectly tailored, as well.
It is a unique combination of the high tech and the power look. Most unusual.
Mark Mullen of ABC News has a similar suit.
Of course it is dark gray, and perfectly tailored for the ultimate executive look. But it is shiny as well.
ESPN. ESPN has done several things with its sportscasters' clothes to make them blend in.
Of course, it always wants its sportscasters to be better dressed than anyone they are interviewing.
On sports Up Close, they have a small circular table for interviews, mainly of star athletes.
The seat of the sportscaster's chair is around a foot higher than the interviewee's.
The interviewee has to look up at the sportscaster, who always looks taller and bigger than the player,
and who is always better dressed, in a sharper suit.
The chairs are high and elevated off the floor, giving no one a chance to adjust their position.
Sitting in them can look a bit precarious. There is something a bit sexy about this.
Throughout his career pop star Justin Timberlake has been photographed sitting
on what look like flimsy chairs that are unable to support anyone's weight.
ESPN has several other gimmicks, as well. During the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike,
the negotiations were covered by a slightly older reporter.
This tall reporter looked like the image of the distinguishedly handsome business executive.
He was always dressed in executive style business suits. No matter who he was interviewing,
whether a team owner or a lawyer, he was always taller and better dressed.
He looked wealthier and more powerful.
He looked like a senior executive to whom they were reporting on their work.
The way this sportscaster always seemed to be evaluating their work during his commentary completed the illusion.
He seemed like a senior executive evaluating a subordinate's job performance: a standard Authority Figure activity.
The whole enterprise expressed hierarchy and a business Chain of Command,
understood and seamlessly evoked by ESPN experts.
It was a clever visual conceit.
It was made more convincing by the sportscaster's body language.
He did not assume the interrogative stance of the traditional newsman,
eager to get a comment from his important interviewee.
Instead he stood bolt upright, like an executive getting a business report from a subordinate.
He seemed completely calm, as well.
Sharp business suits are not ESPN's only tool, in this era of dressing down.
During car races the drivers are in racing suits and the spectators are all casual.
A business suit might not fit in. ESPN's solution?
Dress its announcer in a sharp racing suit, just like the drivers.
His cool looking racing suit is blazoned with ESPN logos.
The sportscaster is now dressed in the same sort of uniform as the drivers he is interviewing.
It is very official looking. It is clearly created by costume designers
who understand every detail of racing suit uniforms.
Another ESPN gimmick: dress an on-the-field interviewer during a baseball game in a leather bomber jacket.
This bomber jacket is very antique looking, militaristic and WW II in style.
The ESPN logo is added as a circular, military style patch on the front of the jacket.
It is a real macho fantasy.
ESPN's SportsCenter has the best computer graphics on television,
during its opening credits, and its Did You Know segments. They are both dynamic, and visually complex.
SportsFigures. SportsFigures is a TV series on the cable TV channel ESPN2.
In each episode, athletes illustrate math and physics concepts by sports examples.
These sure are vivid demonstrations! The series is designed for middle and high school students.
There is no fiction here - these are straightforward little essays on their topics.
It makes a companion piece to the PBS series Mathnet,
which worked math concepts into fictional detective stories.
The hosts of SportsFigures often wore team uniform gear, that echoed
the uniforms of the professional sports figures they were interviewing.
Yellow Sweaters and White Shirts
A yellow sweater and white dress shirt look classy together.
This combination has often symbolized rich, patrician, clean cut young men.
- "Pete and Ragsy Murphy -- the orphan lad who helped Pete recover his fortune"
(Target Comics #23, January 1942). In this tale of The Chameleon,
the previously poor Ragsy has suddenly become rich. He is now in a rich kid's clothes,
a yellow sweater and white dress shirt.
- Pow-Wow Smith's best friend Jimmy wears
a yellow sweater, white shirt and tie in college class.
"The Origin of Pow-Wow Smith" (Detective Comics #151, September 1949) (middle left of page 8).
- Both father and later his teenage son wear yellow sweaters and white dress shirts in
"The Vigil of Patrolman Crowell" (Gang Busters #12, October-November 1949)
(pages 4, 5, 8). Art: Curt Swan.
- Series hero Oogie Pringle on the cover of
A Date With Judy #38 (October-November 1953).
- Series hero Oogie Pringle on the cover of
A Date With Judy #45 (February-March 1955).
- Bob Fosse dancing with Debbie Reynolds in the balloon number, in Give a Girl a Break (Stanley Donen, 1953).
- Tab Hunter at the start of Battle Cry (Raoul Walsh, 1955).
- James Dean in East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955).
- George Hamilton in Home from the Hill (Vincente Minnelli, 1960).
- A wealthy young heir (David Lansbury) wears this in Moving Violation (1991),
an episode of Murder, She Wrote.
Virgil E. Pyles
The pulp magazine artist Virgil E. Pyles often signed his work "V. E. Pyles". His cover for
Detective Fiction Weekly (March 27, 1937) shows a Hollywood mystery by Steve Fisher.
The three young men are in the elegant sportswear worn by Hollywood figures.
The two in front wear pale yellow shirts, that look nearly white.
The man in charge wears a yellow sweater over his shirt.
This good-looking young authority figure has wavy blond hair that echoes his yellow clothes.
Pyles' cover for Argosy (January 25, 1936) illustrates
Max Brand's Western story "The Streak".
The cowboy wears a yellow shirt, with a buttoned-up front panel.
He wears brown leather wristbands, and gleaming light brown leather chaps.
The cover says of the cowboy, "He couldn't stay on the home range".
A photo of Pyles suggests he might have used himself, as the model for some of the men on his covers.
Sweaters. In the Mannix episode The Many Deaths of Saint Christopher (1967),
Mannix is working undercover with a fellow private eye (Glenn R. Wilder).
The eye is blond, and wears a yellow sweater that echoes his hair, at a coffee house.
Plus a white dress shirt underneath.
Mannix is in a similar sweater and white dress shirt, that is almost identical with the blond's outfit.
Only Mannix's sweater is gray, echoing his dark hair. The pattern of visual "rhymes" makes for a vivid scene.
Earlier a well-built man in a mauve sweater and pale gray pants leaves the coffee house.
Sweaters are definitely a uniform there.
The atmosphere and clothes at the club house are collegiate and clean cut.
But these guys in sweaters are also heavily muscled, and exude menace.
They are tougher than most of the previous Hollywood stars in yellow sweaters.
The uniform quality of the sweaters also differs. Previous Hollywood stars tended to be
the only man present in such outfits.
The uniform nature of the coffee-house sweaters suggests toughness and discipline.
Lloyd Bochner wears an off-white sweater and white trousers as a wealthy yachtsman
in the Mannix episode The Girl Who Came in with the Tide (Gerald Mayer, 1969).
It's an odd but effective combination. In some shots, the sweater looks light yellow.
The patrician look of such sweaters is part of the characterization here.
He also wears a navy blue yachtsman's uniform peaked cap, with gold insignia,
and a curved shiny black visor. He's another sweatered character whose clothes are linked to uniforms.
Mod. Real-life singer Neil Diamond appears as himself, as the singer in the coffee house,
in The Many Deaths of Saint Christopher.
A poster on the wall, shows Neil Diamond in a shiny black shirt.
He's not wearing this heavy black shirt in this scene, however, but more casual clothes.
Later, Neil Diamond has a second scene, where he is indeed in the fancy black shirt.
The shirt glows and gleams, like black satin, only a bit heavier and smoother.
It has Mod elements, like tight cuffs. The big, stiff collar of the shirt is different:
it looks more like black leather, and less like satin.
In the episode Who Will Dig the Graves? (1968), it is Harry Dean Stanton
who gets the Mod treatment - something not part of his persona in most other films.
Stanton wears a shirt with vibrant red-and-black horizontal stripes. He's also blond.
Meanwhile the villains at the end are in the dressy suits often featured on Mannix.
Suits. Other Mannix characters are in dressy suits:
These suits are rarely worn by hero Mannix, who usually wears sport coats instead.
The sport coats suggest a working class image for Mannix. A working class man
who has achieved prosperity on his own terms, through his private eye business.
Mannix is typically the only man on the show, in a sport coat.
- Robert Reed is often in good suits, in his recurring role as policeman Sgt. Adam Tobias.
- Robert Reed has a black leather office chair to go with his blue pinstripe suit
in Dark So Early, Dark So Long (1971).
- Guest star Jason Evers, playing a hitman in the episode The Silent Cry (1968).
- Jack Bannon as a virile, Mod young priest in A View of Nowhere (1968).
He wears a sharp, subtly Mod blue-gray suit as part of his clerical uniform.
The suit conveys a sense of precision.
He rides a spectacular red-orange motorcycle with a black leather seat.
He's also linked to rock music and guitars. He's shown with imagery linked to rock stars in the comics:
uniforms, leather, Mod clothes, rock, phallic symbols (motorcycle, guitar, paintbrush),
a sense of authority, planning, pleasant self-control.
- Edmund Gilbert in his gray suit at the finale of Death in a Minor Key (1969).
- Jim Antonio in his office with red leather furniture in Voice in the Dark (1971).
See also all the men in black LAPD police uniforms in this episode.
- Sam Melville as an attorney in Dark So Early, Dark So Long (1971).
Lots of LAPD cops show up at the end of this one.
Color and Aesthetics. Mannix represents a radical rethinking of the private eye genre, to use color.
Earlier TV PI's, like Peter Gunn, were influenced by film noir, and were in black and white.
But Mannix exploded in color, in sets, clothes, landscapes, flowers, etc.
It's a bit like what happened to movie Westerns around 1950, when
Hollywood started making them in brilliant color - reportedly
to give viewers a reason to leave their TV set and come to the theater.
The handsome helicopter pilot in A View of Nowhere wears a red windbreaker and green visored cap.
This matches red and green equipment on his helicopter.
A Sleep in the Deep (1969), set in the dock region of a fancy boating area,
shows the power of simple clothes. Jonathan Lippe wears white trousers, a wide black leather belt,
and a simple bright blue shirt. He looks terrific. Skip Homeier is in a variation of this:
he wears the white trousers and simple belt, but also wears a plain beach jacket over his shirt.
He looks uniformed.
Influence. The influence of Mannix has been felt ever since.
Consider the British police drama Holby/Blue, with its sweater-clad hero.
Purple-and-Yellow clothes and costumes are striking. Purple and yellow are complementary colors.
However, one suspects that Purple-and-Yellow are much less frequent as a color scheme than
other complementary color pairs like Red-Green or Blue-Orange.
In real life, Purple-and-Yellow are seen in sports uniforms, and little else.
In the arts, Purple-and-Yellow was heavily used by Superman Family comic books in the 1950's and 1960's,
for super-hero costumes.
Comic book heroes in Purple-and-Yellow costumes:
Some Superman tales feature vivid purple-and-yellow super-hero costumes.
Almost all of these are based on covers by Curt Swan:
- The cover of the pulp magazine 12 Sports Aces (Vol 1 #2, December 1938)
shows a basketball player in purple-and-yellow.
- The crime-fighter Tarantula wore a spectacular purple-and-yellow costume.
He debuted in October 1941.
- Two months after Tarantula's debut, The Sandman
got a new yellow-and-purple costume (Adventure Comics #69, December 1941).
- The Cadet (Kit Carter), a young hero, is in a purple uniform with gold trim on the cover of
Target Comics #23 (January 1942). Art by John Jordan.
- A uniform with purple shirt and gold epaulettes and sleeve stripes, in the science fiction tale
"Zero Hour For Earth" (Strange Adventures #71, August 1956). Art: Sy Barry.
- The football uniforms have yellow trousers and purple jerseys, in
"Raiders of the Waterless World" (Mystery in Space #56, December 1959).
They include brown leather belts, boots and helmets. Art: Gil Kane.
- Space Ranger's costume is bright yellow with contrasting purple-magenta trim. He debuted in 1958.
- A circus costume is purple with yellow-gold trim in a romance comic book (Falling in Love #29, September 1959).
Art: Sy Barry.
- Magenta-and-black Planeteer uniform with yellow sleeves in the 1950's Tommy Tomorrow science fiction tales.
- Purple uniforms with yellow trim in the Tommy Tomorrow science fiction tale
"Frame-Up at the Planeteer Academy" (Showcase #41, November-December 1962).
- Hawkeye, an archer, has costumes with much blue, but also purple and yellow trim. He debuted in 1964.
- A character on the cover of Silver Surfer vol. 3 #74 (November 1992), apparently Air-Walker,
has a purple-and-blue costume and wears a yellow object on his forehead.
So do some Superboy tales. All of these are based on covers by Curt Swan:
- "Superman's New Uniform" (Action Comics #236, January 1958)
- "The Bride of Futureman" (Superman #121, June 1958)
- "The Super-Outlaw of Krypton" (Superman #134, January 1960). Zell-ex of Krypton is in purple with yellow trim. By Wayne Boring, not Curt Swan.
- "The Menace of Red-Green Kryptonite" (Action Comics #275, April 1961). A newsboy has yellow sweater and purple pants.
- "Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis" (Superman #163, August 1963)
- "The Outlaw Fort Knox" (Superman #179, August 1965). Uniforms of underworld guards.
Lois Lane tales:
- "The Impostor from the Year 2958" (Action Comics #250, July 1958). These are costumes of future people, not super-heroes.
- "The Ghost of Jor-El" (Superboy #78, January 1960).
- "The Boy Who Was Stronger Than Superboy" (Adventure #273, June 1960). Boxer Ted Grahame has purple trunks and yellow hair.
- "The Mystery of Mighty Boy" (Superboy #85, December 1960).
- "Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes" (Adventure #282, March 1961). The origin of Star Boy.
- "The War of the Superboys" (Adventure #287, August 1961) and its sequel "The Knave from Krypton"
(Adventure #288, September 1961). The first tale about Dev-em.
- "Revenge of the Knave from Krypton" (Adventure #320, May 1964). Dev-em returns.
- "The Twilight World of No Return" (Superboy #128, April 1966). Dev-em returns.
- "The Mental Emperor" (Superboy #111, March 1964).
- "The Raid from the Phantom Zone" (Superboy #114, July 1964).
- "The Eight Impossible Missions" (Adventure #323, August 1964) is one of many depictions of Element Lad.
His magenta costume with white trim is contrasted with yellow hair, and sometimes also a yellow belt.
Jimmy Olsen tales. All of these are based on covers by Curt Swan:
- "The Battle Between Super-Lois and Super-Lana" (Lois Lane #21, November 1960). Based on cover by Curt Swan.
- "Lois Lane's Super-Gamble" (Lois Lane #56, April 1965). Origin of Ideal-Man. Based on cover by Kurt Schaffenberger.
Some of these purple-and-yellow costumes also involve touches of green:
"Superman's New Uniform", "The Ghost of Jor-El", "The Raid from the Phantom Zone",
Dev-em in "The War of the Superboys", "Revenge of the Knave from Krypton" and "The Twilight World of No Return".
Some have touches of red: "The Battle Between Super-Lois and Super-Lana", "The Mystery of Mighty Boy",
"The Outlaw Fort Knox", "The Dragon Delinquent".
- "The Girl with Green Hair" (Jimmy Olsen #51, March 1961).
- "The Swinging Superman" (Jimmy Olsen #88, October 1965). Jimmy's rock group has purple jackets and yellow instruments.
- "The Dragon Delinquent" (Jimmy Olsen #91, March 1966). A motorcycle gang has purple-and-yellow jackets.
- "Olsen's Time Trip to Save Krypton" (Jimmy Olsen #101, April 1967).
Comic book heroes in Purple costumes, without Yellow:
- Purple-and-Yellow color schemes, in either decor or costumes, occasionally show up in the films of
Vincente Minnelli. They are associated with virile men.
See especially Tea and Sympathy (1956) and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970).
- The villainous warlord's overdone uniform is in magenta and gold in Captain Horatio Hornblower (Raoul Walsh, 1951).
- Burt Lancaster's magenta coat with gold trim in The Crimson Pirate (Robert Siodmak, 1952).
- Lorne Greene often wore a purple shirt with a very light brown leather vest that perhaps had a yellowish tinge, in the TV series Bonanza.
- Robert Mitchum wears a purple vest and yellowish shirt towards the end of El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1966).
- Batman (Adam West) wore a costume with much purple and gold, as well as dark blue, in the TV series Batman (1966-1968).
- The lead singer from "Dead or Alive" wears a purple robe with gold cuffs in the music video
You Spin Me Round (Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton, 1984). Other aspects are in these colors, including a gold frame and gold tape.
- The court uniforms and liveries are purple with gold trim in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (Garry Marshall, 2004).
- The nightclub singer wears a yellow sports jacket and purple pants and shirt in the Russian musical
Stilyagi / Hipsters (Valery Todorovsky, 2008).
Comic book heroes dressed as boxers:
- The Phantom, a man who costume sometimes is depicted as bright purple and sometimes as mainly light gray,
debuted as a daily comic strip in 1936, and as a color Sunday comic in 1939.
- Red-ish-purple trucker's uniform of hero Steele Kerrigan in
"The Hijacker" (Police Comics #2, September 1941).
- Purple-and-red soccer uniforms on the cover of a Dick Cole tale (Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 6 No. 5, November 1945).
- Purple uniform shirt with white letters on lifeguard on the cover of
A Date With Judy #48 (August-September 1955).
- Purple plastic diving suit in "The Earth-Drowners" (Strange Adventures #64, January 1956).
- Purple-and-white space suit worn by the Space-Cabby in "Search for the Space Sparklers"
(Mystery in Space #31, April-May 1956).
- Magenta-purple uniforms worn by daredevil team Challengers of the Unknown. Debut: Showcase #6 (February 1957).
- Purple-and-green costume of "The E-L-A-S-T-I-C Lad" (Jimmy Olsen #31, September 1958).
Origin of Elastic Lad.
- Purple with white and red trim worn by super-hero Futuro in "Superman's Other Life" (Superman #132, October 1959).
- Magenta-blue-and-black costume worn by villain Cosmic King in his origin
"The Legion of Super-Villains" (Superman #147, August 1961).
- Magenta devil costume of Jimmy Olsen lookalike in "Jimmy Olsen's Wildest Adventure" (Jimmy Olsen #61, June 1962).
- Grayish-purple shirt and trousers of Rick Purvis in the Star Rovers tale
"Who Saved the Earth? (Mystery in Space #81, December 1962).
- Purple-and-green costume of "The Kid Who Replaced Jimmy Olsen" (Jimmy Olsen #94, July 1966).
- Purple-and-red super-villain costume in "The Fortress Death-Trap" (Jimmy Olsen #97, October 1966).
Purple clothes for heroes in DC romance comic books:
- Purple boxing trunks worn by Bruce Wayne (Batman) in "The Origin of the Superman - Batman Team" (Adventure #275, August 1960).
- Light purple boxing trunks on yellow-haired boxer in "I Gave My Love Away" (Falling in Love #121, February 1971). Art: Art Saaf.
Stage actors in purple:
- Purple shirt and white tee shirt, on the cover (Girls' Love Stories #101, February 1964).
- White jacket and pants and magenta shirt, on the cover (Young Love #95, May 1972).
- Hockey uniform in "Flattery - Can Get You Anywhere" (Heart Throbs #143, July 1972).
- Double-breasted suit in "Love Came C.O.D." (Young Romance #184, July 1972).
- Light purple Mod safari coat with white trim, with patch pockets fastened and buckled with straps,
in "Cold Fish" (Young Love #100, October 1972).
- Pilot's uniform in "Two Loves" (Young Romance #191, February 1973).
- Light purple Mod shirt with spirals, on the cover (Love Stories #149, March - April 1973).
- Biker uniform in purple with white insignia in "Play With Fire" (Girls' Love Stories #178, July - August 1973).
Purple, yellow and white are the colors of the Minneapolis Vikings football team.
Purple with white trim are the official colors of Northwestern University in Illinois, USA.
- Matthew Morrison wore a white suit and purple tie in Hairspray (2002).
- James Ludwig wore a magenta sweater in the play Birthday Boy (2011) by Chris Newbound.
Costume Designer: Charles Schoonmaker.
Boxers. Boxers and Wrestlers:
- Dempsey and Firpo (1924) is a painting by famed American artist George Bellows.
It shows a moment of a key real-life boxing match, with Luis Angel Firpo in purple trunks knocking Jack Dempsey out of the ring.
There are no contrasting yellow colors.
- Roni Ramos' photographs show a boxer (model Doug Larson) in purple boxing trunks with yellow trim, in
the magazine Men's Fitness (March 1996), cover and page 71. The trunks are smooth and shiny.
The photos illustrate a series "Get Tough!" The cover photo is in black-and-white, with just his purple boxing shorts in color.
The interior photo is in full color, with the boxer slicked-up, less jaw stubble and shorter hair in back.
He's now a blond, matching his trunks' yellow waist and stripes, rather than black-haired as he was on the cover.
- Wrestler John Cena wears a purple tee shirt with yellow athletic-style letters saying "Never Give Up".
Boxing and Uniforms in the Mod Era
Boxers: Jantzen. In the 1970's swimwear maker Jantzen issued men's swimwear that looked like boxing trunks.
Some were bright gold, or other metallic colors. They also had purple trunks with contrasting red-orange trim, a vivid combination.
Jantzen's publicity called these "punch trunks". They were tighter than actual boxing trunks, but otherwise very authentic looking.
They sold a matching jacket which was mainly a shiny, metallic purple, with trim in both red-orange and yellow.
The jackets have a definite "uniform" look, and an "official" feel.
The jackets have a patch pocket on the left sleeve, and cloth waist and tight cuffs: features recalling Air Force MA-1 uniform jet-pilot jackets.
MA-1 jackets are often made of nylon: so is this jacket.
The jacket-and-trunks form a true uniform: they have matching colors and fabric,
and jacket sleeve pocket and trunk waist share the word JANTZEN in boxing-trunk style lettering.
The outfits combine two potent, powerful uniform traditions:
Men got a chance to wear uniforms as street wear in the mid 1970's. Many seized the chance, and throughly enjoyed themselves.
- Sports uniforms, in the boxing-style trunks.
- Military uniforms, in the flight jacket look.
The jacket zipper is dark purple and recessed behind a small front panel, helping it be almost invisible when zipped.
This makes the jacket and trunks look like an unbroken expanse of shiny material.
What newspapers said:
More Uniforms. These ads are part of a newspaper culture of the era.
Compare newspaper ads for the men's clothing store Hughes & Hatcher:
- "Men, get ready for the boxer rebellion. Jantzen has punch trunks in bright satin, a real mock-up of the Muhammad Ali look."
Fashion article (The San Bernardino County Sun, March 9, 1975).
- "Or you might want to put on our brand new punch trunk (it was taken right out of the boxing ring). A great new look at only $11."
Jantzen ad (The Daily Herald from Provo, Utah, July 1, 1975).
- "Probably one of the hits of the summer swim-wear scene will be Jantzen's Arnel and nylon green satin boxer's trunks
that look like the real thing; the elasticized and shirred waistline is in orange with a great big "Jantzen" label in the middle."
Fashion article (The Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1975).
- "Bright satin trunks that look as if they may have come out of Mohammed Ali's luggage from Zaire.
Jantzen makes it in orange nylon with its signature flashed across the front."
This refers to the word JANTZEN in boxing-lettering on the trunk waist.
Fashion article (The Tennessean from Nashville, March 5, 1975).
- "Trunk Show. Jantzen, the winner and champion.
A man who likes to show his stripes goes for the punch trunk look of Jantzen beach coordinates.
Great sparring partners in shiny, silky Arnel triacetate nylon." Hudson's ad (Detroit Free Press, February 19, 1976).
The classy looking young man uniformed in the shiny outfit also wears a swimming medal around his neck.
He looks very official.
Men were often photographed looking thoughtful in such uniforms.
- For a man's suit forcefully styled as a military uniform. "Miss Jones may make a memo of her own when you show up in this:
an elegant gabardine knit with a definite military air. Four pleated patch pockets, epaulettes,
side vents, a wrap belt, yoked front and back - the whole works. In solid shades with tone-on-tone stitching."
(Detroit Free Press, Wednesday, December 2, 1974).
For other uniform-sculpted outfits, see a
magazine ad (1975),
magazine ad (1975),
magazine ad (1976),
another ad (1977),
comic book (1971).
Richard Hatch photo.
A uniform-inspired suit. (1970).
These outfits were a craze in the 1970's. Everyone from businessmen to college students showed up in them.
- The ad headlines "The 10-pocket jean. Count 'em. Stuff 'em.". It continues:
"Wanna stash something? Jam it into the jeans that take care of everything.
Ten pockets - front and back and all over the place - hold all the carryables you can think of,
and the denim jeans handle all the rest." (Toledo Blade, Thursday May 29, 1975; Detroit Free Press, May 30, 1975).
The tight light-colored jeans are worn with a wide near-black leather belt, and matching black leather shoes.
The unusually thin belt loops seem perverse. So do the many useless pockets.
The pants are bell-bottomed. They look like something that might be worn by a uniformed sailor.
So does the horizontally striped tee shirt. The way the outfit is tight-fitting also recalls sailor suit uniforms.
Eisenhower Jacket. The Eisenhower jacket was a short uniform jacket,
developed in World War II for General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The sharp jackets became popular, including with civilian men after the war.
A newspaper fashion article (circa 1971) shows a revival of the Eisenhower jacket.
This was at the height of the Mod era. When men got to wear uniforms as street wear.
The new jackets were shaped precisely like a standard Eisenhower jacket. But were made out of leather.
The handsome man photographed wearing the jacket, wore matching tight leather pants with it.
The exact color of the outfit was not clear in the black-and-white photo,
but it was much lighter than black.
Jacket. A View of Nowhere (1968) is an episode of the TV series Mannix.
Hero Mannix wears a suede jacket with uniform features: epaulettes, patch pockets on the chest.
The jacket has a swaggering quality.
Mannix wears the jacket while flying as a passenger in a helicopter. It conveys the sense that he is uniformed while flying.
Avengers. The Fear Merchants (1967) is an episode of the British TV series The Avengers.
A macho man (actor Bernard Horsfall) working out in a gym, wears blue boxing trunks. He does not seem to be a boxer.
Rather, this character Fox is a successful businessman. Fox is in just a single scene, near the start.
A second vivid scene involves a man in a sharp chauffeur's uniform. Both of these scenes take place early in the show.
Wardrobe: Jean Fairlie.
Boxers: Tom Tyler. Actor Tom Tyler played a boxer in the silent film Red Hot Hoofs (Robert De Lacey, 1926).
Stills show him in what look like black leather boxing trunks and leather boxing gloves. The trunks look heavy and shiny.
The unusual use of leather for the trunks, is perhaps related to his character being a cowboy,
and Red Hot Hoofs being a Western. There's a phallic-looking pole with a rounded head, on the wall behind the hero.
The costumes for Red Hot Hoofs are reportedly by the great Walter Plunkett.
Tyler often appeared in elaborate costumes. When he played a cowboy-turned-mounted-police-officer in
The Cowboy Cop (Robert De Lacey, 1926), he wore a snazzy police uniform with high-peaked cap and boots.
And a black tuxedo with such spiffy features as peaked lapels, high stiff collar, and vest.
He carries a cane while in his tux, and later rides a motorcycle, both phallic symbols.
He also makes one of those phallic Thumb Gestures.
Later Tyler starred in Adventures of Captain Marvel (John English, William Witney, 1941) as the comic book super-hero.
This is an ancestor to today's film Shazam!.
Boxers: Actors. Actors posed in magazine shoots dressed as boxers (not in purple or yellow):
David Fumero took part in a boxing match, on his soap opera One Live To Live (September 19 and 20, 2006).
His boxing gear was black with white trim: trunks, leather boxing gloves, robe.
- Jesús Vázquez in Interviú magazine, June 28, 2010.
Spanish TV presenter Vázquez is in shiny black boxing shorts, tall black-and-white lace-up shoes and red leather boxing gloves.
- Alexander Skarsgård in M magazine, June 2013. Photography: Matthew Brookes. Styled by: Alex Badia.
Lace-up clothes became big in the Mod era. They were regularly featured by artist Art Saaf.
A few comic book heroes wear lace-up shirts or coverings. This started in the Golden Age:
Superman's father Jor-El wears shirts with what might or might not be a lace-up collar in
artist Wayne Boring's "Superman's Return to Krypton" (Superman #141, November 1960).
- The Crimson Avenger has two horizontal yellow lines on
the throat of his spectacular red cloak, that might be lace-up. He debuted in 1938.
- Steel Sterling has lace-up ends to his shirt sleeves. He debuted in Zip Comics #1 (February 1940).
- The Spacehawk, whose uniform has a lace-up front. He debuted in June 1940.
- Sub-Zero first got his costume with its lace-up shirt in Blue Bolt Comics #4 (September 1940).
- Plastic Man, who debuted in Police Comics #1 (August 1941).
- Comic book hero The Chameleon and his assistant Slim wear tall lace-up boots
in "The Mysterious Miss De Laise" (Target Comics #11 (Vol. 1 #11), December 1940).
- So do Dick Cole and his friend Simba, as part of their uniforms in
"When Dick Cole and Simba Karno go mountain-climbing" (Blue Bolt Comics #93, August 1948).
- Lumberjack villains wear tall lace-up boots in "The Blaze of Doom" (Adventure #68, November 1941),
a Starman tale.
The way a whole team of lumberjacks is wearing them gives the boots a uniform quality.
Mod clothes featuring lace-up are some of the most creative designs in romance comics of the early 1970's.
These are often linked to rock music and rock stars. Likely ancestors of their treatment of rock are
Jimmy Olsen tales about Music.
Romance comic book heroes wearing lace-up shirts include:
Athletes sometimes get similar clothes and treatments in 1970's romance comics, too.
They share key features used to treat rock stars: Uniforms with lace-up fastenings, leather,
phallic symbols, performing in elevated areas, membership in a group,
men below them in heavy elaborate clothes staring up at them from below,
influence and control over the staring men's feelings, calm pleasant self-control by the uniformed man above:
- The boyfriend on the cover of "The Bet" (Girls' Love Stories #168, April 1972).
The rock concert milieu, the hero's curly hair, muscular build and details of the shirt anticipate
the rock star hero and his stage uniform in "That Special Man".
Both men's Mod shirts feature giant collars with lace-up fronts. Both might be drawn by Art Saaf.
- Both tales also have a different young man attending the concert who is mesmerized by the music, rather than his girlfriend.
These young men are encased in a heavy Mod jacket and elaborate hair.
The young man in "The Bet" is staring up at a male musician in mirror sunglasses and who also wears a lace-up shirt;
the young man dancer in "That Special Man" is listening to the music with his eyes closed.
Both young men express a deep primal commitment to their experiences.
Both illustrations have more than one musician in the rock groups onstage holding a phallic guitar.
Both rock groups are on a stage elevated over the audience, dominating the audience below,
including the mesmerized young men.
- The muscular young man seated on the left of the cover of "Operation Star" (Young Love #103, March-April 1973).
His huge Mod collar might or might not be lace-up. He has lots of wavy black hair.
The rock star he's watching wears a fringed leather shirt, tight bell-bottom pants, and shiny leather boots.
The fringed leather shirt is like one of those heavy, encasing Mod jackets associated with rock in the romance comics.
It is layered over a cloth shirt, like the dancer's jacket in "That Special Man".
His pants are tightly belted, like those of the rock star in "That Special Man", and his boots look buckled.
We don't see the rock star's face, which emphasizes his body and his physicality.
He is playing a phallic guitar.
The young man seated on the left, is balanced in the composition by another young man seated on the right.
Both handsome men are watching the rock star, rather than their girlfriends.
- The rock star in "That Special Man" (Love Stories #152, October - November 1973).
This rock star stage uniform is a definitive version of the look.
His lace-up shirt is in the full Mod mode, with a huge pointed collar and a flowing material,
large patch pocket and tight two-button cuffs. The collar points have a knife-like sharpness.
He wears a tight black leather belt. All six of the rock musicians in this tale are
in their own special stage uniforms, each different from the others'.
But they are all in green, which suggests they might all be part of one elite, prestigious group.
Their outfits also share features such as puffy but form-fitting shirts with tight cuffs, big collars,
billowing shirt fabric that is tucked into trouser waists, tight pants, broad shoulders, elaborately coifed hair.
All of these dramatic features are consistent with Mod fashion.
The drummer wields two phallic drumsticks.
Aside from the drummer and the man next to him, all carry phallic guitars. The hero's giant guitar is the biggest.
The rock star hero makes a phallic Thumb Gesture (bottom of page 2).
Later he drives his motorcycle under a large phallic arrow outside the hall (page 3).
The rock star hero is expert at Authority Figure behavior: giving people orders and evaluating their performance.
The tale is available here.
- The boyfriend on the cover of "The Magic of Love" (Heart Throbs #143, July 1972). Art: Jay Scott Pike.
The hero wears a Mod shirt with lace-up collar and long tight cuffs.
- The singer boyfriend on the cover of "Love Me -- Don't Use Me" (Young Romance #193, April - May 1973).
Unlike some of the other musician boyfriends, this guy is in street wear, not a stage uniform.
His lace-up shirt is like a typical preppie knit shirt, only it's skintight.
He and other men on the cover are in elaborately geometric bell-bottom pants with button flys.
The pants are all worn with belts. The hero stands in front of a phallic fireplug.
- The spectacular football uniform on the cover of "The Show Off" (Heart Throbs #145, September 1972)
includes a lace-up fly. The cover is probably by Art Saaf. The well-built football player's hair is elaborately coifed,
like other Saaf males. The coach standing next to the football player is in soft colors.
Still, his gear proclaims him to be an authority figure,
with the word COACH spelled out on his sweatshirt, and a uniform visored athletic cap on his head.
The cap has S on it for "State", and it and the sweatshirt are in official colors,
making the coach's outfit be a true uniform. Both men's uniforms are skintight, displaying their muscles.
Team flags and a pennant are flying in the background, in the orange team color that matches the men's uniforms.
They have an official quality.
(Saaf had previously given the hero of
"You're Not My Type ...Mr. Winslow" (Heart Throbs #129, December 1970-January 1971)
a sweatshirt with a similarly styled collar as the coach's.)
As often in Saaf images, a handsome man in the audience is staring at the heroes.
A muscular blond guy in the stands is in a heavy jacket. He's watching the football player intently.
His tight jacket shows off his broad shoulders and bulging arm muscles.
He's positioned right above a phallic line in the bleachers; more phallic flags and a pennant rise above him.
- The quarterback Dan Casey in Art Saaf's "Enemies in Love" (Falling in Love #141, June - July 1973)
is irresistible to the heroine, even though she's a cheerleader for a rival team.
The football uniforms feature lace-up football shoes with cleats.
He's first seen on a city street, near phallic symbols like his car, a fireplug, a taxi sign and lamppost.
On the football field, he wears number 7 and is near more phallic symbols: tall structures holding lights, the goal posts.
On the street he wears striped bell bottoms, recalling the striped pants in
the hero's rock star stage uniform in "That Special Man".
- A boxer stars in "I Gave My Love Away" (Falling in Love #121, February 1971).
Art: Art Saaf. Like some of the rock stars, boxer Tommy performs on an elevated platform, here his boxing ring.
He wears elaborately lace-up boxing shoes. The ring has phallic posts in its corners.
A good-looking macho man in a tux is staring up at him from seats below. Both the man in the spiffy black tux and Tommy are blonds.
Tommy is striking an opponent. Tommy's boxing trunks are shinier than his opponent's, and his lace-up shoes are taller.
- See the discussion elsewhere in this article, of how such athlete tales as
"Play With Fire" and "Miss Peeping Tom"
embody the rock star paradigm.
- Just as rock music tales about Jimmy Olsen might be ancestors of the romance comic tales,
so might portraits of Jimmy as an athlete be ancestral to romance tales about sports players.
Uniformed boxer Jimmy Olsen and his opponent wear boxing trunks and tall lace-up boxing shoes, in
"T.N.T. Olsen, The Champ" (Jimmy Olsen #11, March 1956) (splash panel).
The uniforms of Jimmy and his opponent include leather gloves, helmets and shoes.
A phallic corner post of the ring is near Jimmy. Jimmy's new name of T.N.T. also includes the phallic letter T.
Jimmy is being stared up at by both Superman and another man, both standing below the boxing ring where Jimmy is elevated.
Later during a match (first panel on page 8), we once again see Jimmy and his opponent full-figure in lace-up shoes.
Good-looking men in suits seated below are staring up at Jimmy in the ring.
Jimmy is uniformed in boxing gear in both panels, while the staring men below are in regular clothes.
In addition, Jimmy is achieving dominance over his boxing opponents in both panels, delivering knock-out blows.
This has a strong, involuntary effect on the good-looking men in suits, who are electrified by what they see Jimmy do.
Art: Curt Swan.
- The uniformed firefighters in "The School for Smoke-Eaters" (Showcase #1, March-April 1956).
Their shiny dark uniform coats are not lace-up, but they do have complex toggles. Their huge helmets have large numbers,
The firefighters anticipate the comic book treatment of rock stars and athletes:
uniformed, with phallic numbers and equipment, doing their work in elevated places watched by admiring men below.
Phallic numbers: Hero Fred Farrell is #11, and is given a hard time by obnoxious rival Red Miller, #7.
Phallic equipment includes their helmets and ladder,
Fred Farrell's pompier, water tower, extinguisher, and fire pole, Red Miller's firehose.
Red Miller makes a phallic Thumb Gesture
while giving an angry order to his team (top of page 6).
But Fred Farrell ultimately triumphs. Writer: Arnold Drake. Art: John Prentice.
Linemen. Related: the rock-star-like treatment of Linemen.
The linemen are depicted in ways that recall comic book treatment of rock stars:
an elevated position, uniforms, leather, phallic symbols, calm planning, membership in a group.
The linemen's leather climbing belts are perhaps analogous to the rock stars' lace-up clothes.
"The Unknown Super-Deeds" (Superman #131, August 1959) shows two linemen on its splash panel.
Artist Al Plastino has loaded the splash with phallic symbols, directly linked to the
linemen in the panel. These include electrical power towers, a wrench one lineman holds,
and a hardhat with a huge erect visor. As in other Otto Binder tales with phallic symbols,
the symbols are non-violent work tools and equipment.
The two men are wearing matching gauntlets with star symbols on the cuffs, a neat touch.
These gauntlets make the men uniformed. The men also wear rope coils, and a belt used for climbing.
Scenes of crooks posing as linemen, to carry out planned schemes, full of phallic imagery of telephone poles:
Government agent heroes go undercover as linemen in
The Scarface Mob (Phil Karlson, 1959).
They wear fancy leather jackets and huge boots.
They are part of a government group, and carrying out a well-planned scheme.
- "Jail Break" (Gang Busters #4, June-July 1948) (mid right panel of page 7). Art: Dan Barry.
The linemen are uniformed.
- Cover (Crime Must Pay the Penalty #39, July 1954) Art: Jim McLaughlin ?.
One lineman wears lace-up boots. This lineman is higher up, and giving orders to a lineman lower down.
More Romance Comics. Other romance comic book tales:
- The rich heroine comes under the influence of the poor but handsome head of a theater troupe
in "Love Came C.O.D." (Young Romance #184, July 1972). He wears white pants with a button fly.
Also see an outstanding close-up portrait of the hero (page 8). The hero has the macho name "Hunt". Art: Win Mortimer.
The tale seems influenced by Frank Capra's film It Happened One Night (1934).
- The cover of Love Stories #149 (March - April 1973) shows many couples making out.
In each instance, it is the men who are elaborately dressed, in Mod clothes.
Their shirts include stripes, targets, spirals, and bubble-like dots of varying sizes.
Two men wear black leather belts.
One man is in a fringed buckskin jacket, another in a fringed vest with lace-up sides.
The powerfully muscular hero wears a brown leather vest, and a shirt with big overlapping scales.
He has his arms encircling the heroine.
- The actor Peter in "The Wrong Kind of Love" (Girls' Love Stories #151, May 1970). Art: Jay Scott Pike.
The handsome actor wears a shirt that looks at first glance like a typical knit polo shit.
However, the collar is a lace-up affair, like one would find on a shoe (page 4). The actor is huge, muscled and glamorous.
This Is Good-Bye. "This Is Good-Bye" (Girls' Love Stories #76, February 1961). Art: John Romita.
The splash and cover show a shipboard romance, going wrong for the male hero.
High above him, a man in a spiffy uniform mess jacket is kissing the woman the hero perhaps loves.
The uniform lacks lace-up.
But otherwise, the man above shows features associated with rock stars and athletes in the comics:
In addition to his elevated position and uniform, the man above has another way of
dominating the hero below. The uniformed man is taking the hero's girlfriend away from him.
See also the climatic scene, and cover of "Play With Fire", and its uniformed biker.
Both the biker in "Play With Fire" and the uniformed man in "This Is Good-Bye",
are very good at kissing.
- Uniforms: the white mess jacket and tightly curving trousers are symbols of nautical evening uniforms.
They are very sexy.
- Leather: Shiny black leather shoes.
- An elevated position: a ship platform reached by stairs.
- Phallic symbols: a rail points straight outward from the uniformed man.
And a huge ship funnel towers behind him.
- Membership in a group: the uniform suggests the man is a ship's officer, or member of some other elite organization.
- Staring Up at the Uniformed Man Above: The hero below is staring right up at the uniformed man,
obsessed with what he sees.
In this case he is motivated by anger, rather than the eager fandom of the rock star or athlete tales.
- Influence and Control: The uniformed man is in control of the feelings of the staring hero below.
What the uniformed man has triggered has completely taken over the hero.
This response is involuntary on the hero's part.
- Self-Control by the Uniformed Man: Meanwhile the uniformed man is doing exactly as he pleases.
He is relaxed and confident.
- Heavy, Tight and Awkward Clothes: The hero below is encased in heavy clothes: a suit jacket, shirt and tie.
See also numerous John Ford films.
Fashion Photos. They are not comic books, but photo spreads in men's fashion magazines
often show imagery related to rock star comics. See the discussion elsewhere in this article, of
"Three for the Road",
"New Camaro. Feb. 26th.",
"The International Style",
"The Men's Club",
"BMW: N Street",
"BMW: Santa Barbara".
These photos only occasionally show lace-up clothes, however.
Illustrations and Book Covers
Such costumes earlier appeared in multiple media:
- In pulp magazines Doc Savage wears khaki trousers whose ends are lace-up,
tucked into high lace-up boots, on the cover of Doc Savage Magazine (March 1934).
See also Doc Savage Magazine (March 1936), where Doc parachutes in a similar outfit.
Art for both covers: Walter Baumhofer.
- The hockey players on the cover of 12 Sports Aces (Vol 7 #2, January 1943)
wear black lace-up hockey skates. Art: Norm Saunders.
- The science fiction novel Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D. (1952) by Andre Norton
has its futuristic hero in a lace-up jerkin made out of hide: essentially a sleeveless leather shirt.
Nicolas Mordvinoff's illustrations show this.
- Jim Matthewuse's cover art for the paperback The Nancy Drew Files Case 45: Out of Bounds (1990)
shows a football player in a uniform with a lace-up fly.
The Circle Home. A boxer is on the cover illustration of
the 1977 paperback of Edward Hoagland's novel The Circle Home.
The blond-haired boxer is in shiny pinkish-red trunks with white trim, and is looking at himself in a mirror.
There is much to be pleased about, with his perfect build, handsome face and curly hair.
His hair is perfectly coiffed in one of those elaborate 1970's styles.
His phallic leather boxing gloves are on the floor.
He wears black leather boxing shoes with white laces.
The laces are not as elaborate as on some boxing shoes, but are still lace-up.
Kurt Lundqvist. Contemporary painter Kurt Lundqvist has:
- A boxer in shiny copper shorts, big black-and-copper boxing gloves,
and tall lace-up gray-and-copper boxing shoes. The metallic copper color is unusual and effective.
Behind him is a thick phallic corner post of the boxing ring. Both his shoes and aggressive gloves
have phallic stylings. The copper-gold thumbs of the gloves are phallic, while the rest of
the shiny black gloves look limitlessly forceful.
- "Psyche Up" shows a thoughtful boxer working himself up before a bout.
He already has his red-and-gold shoes laced up. He still needs to lace on his boxing gloves.
The boxer is not just muscular, with perfect abs. He also looks highly intelligent.
One wonders if the mental process he is going through, involves advanced techniques in modern psychology.
- "Downtime at the City Courts" shows a basketball player at an outdoor court,
in shiny white jersey and tall white-and-gray lace-up shoes.
He's #15, with the phallic 1 emphasized. A phallic post and wall regions are in the background.
The shoes have a bulging curved toe region that is highly phallic.
- "Try and Take This" shows a different basketball player on the same team, the Marauders.
He's in a brilliant shiny red uniform, with white-and-yellow letters.
- "All In" shows a man in casual but uniform-like gray clothes, climbing into a wrestling ring.
Elaborately laced-up black leather boots echo a shiny black phallic pole of the ring.
Pop Singers and Photographs
Real-life pop singer Ricky Martin wears lace-up leather pants, both on-stage,
and also off-stage as part of a black leather suit. The eyelets through which the laces thread
are heavy and reinforced with metal. The eyelets and the shiny black leather of the pants
are designed to remind one of the lacings of a shoe or boot.
The heavy grade of leather seems chosen to resemble shoe leather, in fact.
The shiny metal eyelets are designed to be the most conspicuous feature of the pants.
On-stage Ricky Martin paired these pants with a shirt with lace-up collar.
Four pairs of long laces criss-crossed his bare chest. Lines extending from the collar drew attention to it.
A different pair of black leather pants is made of dozens of rectangular leather patches, pieced together.
The trousers have a conspicuous lace-up fly.
Martin also sings in white pants with a lace-up fly. The laces are black, and really stand out
against the white pants. He pairs these with a blue denim shirt. with very long three-button cuffs.
In most ways the denim shirt and white pants look like conventional clothes worn by millions of guys.
But the long cuffs and lace-up pants make them unique.
Martin has brown leather pants. They have an enormous numbers of what seem to be drawstring loops,
that hang down in front over the fly. The drawstrings resemble brown shoelaces.
A guess: the pants don't really need drawstrings to keep them tight, especially not this many.
Instead, he drawstrings are a fashion touch. They are really conspicuous.
Actor-singer David Hasselhoff has been photographed singing in a white shirt,
a black leather coat and matching black leather lace-up pants.
There are no less than eight pairs of eyelets stacked up on the fly, showing
Hasselhoff's usual exuberance.
Hasselhoff knows how to mime anger, including clenched fists and spreading his legs.
The spread legs merely call more attention to the fly. Even when just singing,
Hasselhoff strikes poses with his legs thrust far apart.
The white shirt looks dignified, a plain, conventional men's dress shirt.
The thin white shirt becomes transparent when sopping wet. It also starts to look skimpy.
Singer Don Phillips also wore black leather trousers with a lace-up fly.
Actor Matt Schulze wears black leather trousers with a lace-up fly, as a biker in
the motorcycle film Torque (Joseph Kahn, 2004).
Rock singer Jeff Timmons wore a tie-dye shirt with a lace-up collar.
The threads of the laces were tiny, almost wire-like, and very numerous.
The lace-up collar looks like a piece of electrical machinery.
The tie-dye shirt itself is full of gray lines and crosses that look like phallic symbols.
One suspects a professional artist has carefully painted them by hand.
They also have a dynamic quality, like airplanes or birds in flight.
Neurologist-author Oliver Sacks was a biker in his youth. A photo shows him in a heavy
black leather motorcycle shirt, with a lace-up collar.
He wears a white tee shirt underneath, so that the laces stand out.
The shirt is in many ways more like a motorcycle jacket, with a zippered chest pocket
and metal snaps on its erect collar strap.
Patrick Juvet's album "got a feeling" (1978) shows his name in sports-style lettering.
He's wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket over his bare chest.
Two metal chains are around his well-muscled neck.
In front of his chest is a gleaming black leather ice skate with elaborate white laces.
The silver blade of the skate echoes the silver zipper of his jacket.
Jesús Vázquez in Interviú magazine, June 28, 2010.
Spanish TV presenter and pop-singer Vázquez is dressed as a boxer for the photo shoot,
wearing tall black-and-white lace-up shoes. These match his shiny black boxing trunks.
Vázquez looks as if he is enjoying dressing up as something he is not.
The make-up man has provided Vázquez with a phony-but-macho black eye.
As a pop singer Vázquez appeared in gleaming black leather pants, with either a white or red shirt.
As a boxer he uses a similar color scheme: shiny black trunks, with white trim and red boxing gloves.
Singer Vázquez also wore metal-and-black-leather belts and wristbands,
something that has an analogue in the white writing on the waist of his boxing trunks and red gloves.
'N SYNC appeared in boxing gear for a magazine layout. They too wore tall black-and-white lace-up boxing shoes.
These are apparently Adidas, with three white stripes on a black background.
Their unusual, highly shiny long trunks have black-and-white panels on the sides, with the three stripes,
and color panels on the front and rear. There is then a highly aggressive shiny black panel at the front center.
It's designed to call attention to itself, whether the wearer is standing up or sitting down.
The various panels and stripes have a rhythmic effect.
The group wore huge brightly colored red or yellow over-size boxing gloves.
The gloves are wedge shape, and dramatically expand towards the contact edge.
Paul Walker in the film The Skulls (Rob Cohen, 2000)
wore shiny blue long Adidas boxing trunks, huge gleaming black leather boxing gloves,
and tall lace-up black Adidas boxing shoes with white laces. Long trunks were fashionable in that era,
whether for basketball or boxing. The long trunks were considered both dressy and sexy.
Shiny long basketball trunks were popular as street wear.
A Newport ad in GQ (February 1992) (inside back cover) shows a man with his dog on a leash.
The dog's master is a grinning young man around 30, in elaborately laced ice skates.
The skates are a brilliant, aggressive magenta and black, with white laces. The skates look spectacularly oversized.
He wears one of the colorful sweaters big in that era,
in a vibrant red-and-blue, and wears bulky, shiny gloves in the same pair of colors.
The gloves have huge, long, shiny pinkish-red thumbs, that are designed to be phallic.
His oversize pair of gleaming nylon dark blue snow trousers, are held up by a pair of big dark blue suspenders.
The suspenders recall the business suits of the era, and suggest this handsome young master is a wealthy yuppie.
Another Newport ad shows a muscular skier, his legs spread apart in an aggressive stance.
He's wearing gleaming black ski boots, and tight-fitting shiny dark blue ski pants.
Film and Television
Western stars regularly wore shirts with lace-up fronts:
- J. Warren Kerrigan wore buckskins with a lace-up shirt front and lace-up trousers in the Western
The Covered Wagon (James Cruze, 1923).
- Joel McCrea wore a lace-up Western shirt in Barbary Coast (Howard Hawks, 1935).
- Tom Tyler wore a cowboy shirt with lace-up collar in Trigger Tom (1935) and Pinto Rustlers (1936).
- Joseph H. Lewis made four Westerns with singing cowboy Bob Baker.
Baker wears lace-up cowboy shirts. So does actor John Dall when he dons Western gear in
Lewis' thriller Gun Crazy (1950).
- Western film star Lash LaRue wore a cowboy shirt with a lace-up collar, as part of his all-black outfit.
Photos of him were regularly on the cover of his comic book Lash LaRue Western.
- Guy Madison wore what looks like a lace-up shirt as part of his Western fringed buckskins in his TV series
The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1951 - 1958). One suspects that quite a few
movie buckskins outfits have lace-up shirts.
- Clint Walker on his TV series Cheyenne (1955-1962) often wore
a white shirt with fringe on the shoulders and a lace-up collar.
- Don Collier wore a buckskin shirt with lace-up front as ranch hand Sam Butler in
the TV series The High Chaparral (1967-1971).
- John Wayne made what seems to be his debut in Brown of Harvard (Jack Conway, 1926).
Photos of him in both his real life USC uniform, and a production still of him as a Yale star in Brown of Harvard,
show his football uniforms including elaborate lace-up black leather shoes.
- Wayne then wore a lace-up shirt with his fringed cowboy outfit in his first starring role, in
The Big Trail (Raoul Walsh, 1930).
- John Wayne would go on regularly to wear white naval uniforms in the movies.
Burt Reynolds' football uniform has lace-up shoulder pads and fly in The Longest Yard (1974).
- The trio of American heroes in the Douglas Fairbanks film
The Mollycoddle (Victor Fleming, 1920)
wear action gear out West that includes tall, lace-up boots.
- So does Theodore von Eltz as a railroad surveyor in Tiger Rose (Sidney Franklin, 1923),
a film melodrama of the the Canadian Northwest. Co-star Forrest Stanley is nicely uniformed as a Mountie,
with big leather gauntlets, a Sam Browne belt and Sergeant's chevrons.
Both the Mountie uniform and uniform rain slicker he sometimes wears over it, have erect collars.
Lace-up clothes were featured on the private eye TV series Honey West.
All of these reflect the show's costume chief Robert B. Harris:
Soap opera star David Fumero wore a white shirt with an elaborate, five-crossings lace-up collar.
- Actor John Ericson wore a lace-up sweatshirt in the Honey West episode
Like Visions and Omens and All That Jazz (1966).
The sweatshirt is black with white lacings on the collar. The lacings are big and floppy.
There are lots of them, and look thoroughly entangled. The fastenings come in a series of pulses on the collar.
- The leather Robin Hood costume has a lace-up collar on Little Green Robin Hood (1966).
- See also the complexly fastened, spectacular leather vest worn by the cowboy in
Just the Bear Facts, Ma'am (1966). The metal fastenings might not be lace-up.
Liam Hemsworth was photoed on a fire escape, wearing a Perfecto-style black leather motorcycle jacket
with lots of zippers and snaps, dark striped jeans with many patches, and elaborately laced-up black boots.
The boots have silver-like steel-capped toes and silver eyelets for the laces.
The boots look as if they are hard to lace up, or under tension and heavy stress while they are laced -
perhaps this is an illusion created by a deliberate design effect. The column of eight eyelets is elaborately curved,
looking as if they are bent together by the laces, and about to spring open. It's probably an illusion,
one created by the curved line of eyelets.
Figure skater Elvis Stojko wore trousers that laced up the sides. The trousers look like shiny black leather,
but are likely some more flexible material. The eyelets are silver metallic, like those on a boot.
He wore them with a matching shirt, and black skates.
Colton Haynes stars as comic book hero Roy Harper, the Red Arrow, on the TV series Arrow.
His red leather costume features elaborate lace-up along the sleeves, and
in two front panels that rise up V-shaped from his waist to his shoulders.
The panels bulge out for his chest muscles at the top, and are tight over his abs lower down.
The lacings have silver eyelets, like a boot or leather shoe.
His costume also features elaborate leather straps and silver buckles, holding his quiver on his back.
The color of the uniform is dithered, so that the bright red of the bulging chest, shoulders and upper arms,
transforms down into the near-black-with-red-tinge of the lower arms and tight abs.
Comic book hero costumes have some of the greatest creativity and care lavished on their design,
in modern films and TV.
See also the section of this article on Red Leather.
Mod Clothes: Comic Books and That Special Man
While they don't involve lace-up clothes, some romance comic stories are related to the above rock music tales,
especially the classic "That Special Man" (Love Stories #152, October - November 1973).
Like the rock star tales, they feature Mod clothes.
Make Love To Me. An anonymous young man is deep in kissing a woman in Italy, in
Art Saaf's "Make Love To Me" (Girls' Love Stories #177, April - May 1973) (page 2).
His green, big collared Mod shirt and striped pants make him a dry run for the hero of "That Special Man" (1973).
Like the hero of that tale, he is very well built. Saaf's rock star hero in "That Special Man"
and his rock singer on the cover of "The Bet" are in aggressively striped pants while performing.
Both hold guitars.
At the end of "Make Love To Me" the heroine returns to the States. Her "man back home" Brian is far from dull.
He's red-haired and in a gorgeous Mod double-breasted blue suit. He's a riot of color and top fashion.
Death of a City. "Death of a City" (Supergirl #2, January 1973) Writer: Cary Bates. Art: Art Saaf.
We get a close-up of a man's shirt (bottom panels on page 6). The material seems to flow and billow over his body;
we see the folds over the musculature. We also see where minute quantities of the material stand out at his waist,
before being tucked into the striped trousers. All of these are common features of Saaf's work -
see the rock star's billowing shirt in "That Special Man" (1973), and the way the fabric seems to slightly
billow out before being tucked into the singer's striped trousers (page 2, first panel).
There is always a strong contrast between the billowing, silky shirt material and the tight trousers.
The drummer in "That Special Man" (page 2) also wears a billowing shirt.
The illustration (p 10) of the scientist hero holding the bottle of Kandor, smiling,
recalls a similar laughing portrait of the hero (p8) in "Hard to Handle".
The handsome scientist's all-white clothes also anticipate the hero of "Hard to Handle".
A Mod Cover. A cover (Falling in Love #123, May 1971) shows a man in a Mod shirt kissing a woman.
Art: Jay Scott Pike. We see the man from the side, and don't see much of his collar, or how it is fastened.
But we do see the puffy Mod sleeves. The sleeves narrow down to tight, much-buttoned cuffs in the Mod manner:
four buttons in this case. The puffy sleeves show off his huge arm muscles.
It might have influenced later romance tales:
A phallic design is on a boulder. Pike's signature is right below this, and aligned with the design.
- The Mod shirt anticipates the one in "That Special Man".
- The vertical style of kissing anticipates "Miss Peeping Tom".
A line of dialogue suggests this guy is a Bad Boy. But highly sexually desirable and effective in his kissing.
This too anticipates "That Special Man".
Another Mod Cover. Ric Estrada's cover for Girls' Romances #152 (October 1970) shows
a man in a Mod shirt and striped bell-bottomed pants. His outfit anticipates the one in "That Special Man".
Like it, the hero has a puffy sleeved shirt, tight cuffs, and
a shirt that does not quite fully tuck into the tight belted, striped pants. Both outfits are green.
A Third Mod Cover. Art Saaf's cover for "I Won't Marry You" (Heart Throbs #135, November 1971)
features two handsome men, angrily ordering the heroine choose one of them to marry.
They seem like authority figures, issuing moral directives.
Both wear Mod clothes, including bell-bottoms, big belts and tight form-fitting shirts.
The man on the right wears a shirt with big sleeves and tight cuffs, expertly fitting bell-bottomed striped pants
and tight black leather belt: all features anticipating "That Special Man".
He also has the precisely coiffed curly hair, pretty but perverse sensual face
and big muscles of the hero of "That Special Man".
He differs from "That Special Man" in wearing a wristwatch with a black leather band,
suggesting he has a responsible role somewhere in the bourgeois world.
The cover also anticipates Saaf's cover for "The Show Off" (Heart Throbs #145, September 1972).
That shows a Coach and a football player, similarly demanding that the heroine choose one of them.
Both covers have a light-haired, somewhat gentle man on the left, and a dark-haired macho man
in really good clothes on the right.
The later tales "The Show Off" and "That Special Man" have their heroes in uniform.
By contrast the men in "I Won't Marry You" are in regular street wear, not uniforms.
But there is a uniform-like quality to the shared features of their clothes,
like the big belts with conspicuous rectangular belt buckles.
A possible ancestor to the "I Won't Marry You" cover.
This is a cover drawn by Howard Purcell
(Mr. District Attorney #14, March-April 1950).
It shows an angry convict in prison, chewing out the hero.
The convict is teamed up with an angry cop. Both are in gray uniforms.
The convict anticipates the man on the right of "I Won't Marry You". Both men have:
The man on the left in "I Won't Marry You" wears a wide leather belt, like the angry cop
in Mr. District Attorney #14. Both belts are worn outside outfits,
not for support, but to make waists look tight. And while it might be stretching a point,
the Mod medallion the man on the left wears, might be an analogue of the cop's badge.
- Pants with widely spaced thin stripes.
- A fairly narrow black leather belt, with similarly shaped oblong rectangular buckles.
- A shirt that sticks out a little where it is tucked into his tight pants.
This is a familiar motif in Saaf.
- The shirt unbuttoned down the front, showing off their chests.
- Gray shirts.
- Good builds.
I Am a Woman. "I Am a Woman" (Young Romance #190, January 1973) also
has its hero David in one of those Mod shirts (page 1).
It too has puffy sleeves, tight cuffs, and a bit of extra material at the waist tucked into tight,
belted bell-bottoms. It has a fairly big, pointed collar. Art: Perhaps by Tony DeZuniga.
Lying Lips "Lying Lips" (Girls' Love Stories #180, October - November 1973).
Writer: ?. Art: ?. Cover: Jay Scott Pike. The characters repeatedly play a party game,
where blindfolded men try to guess the identity of women who kiss them, just from their kisses.
The game is the subject of Pike's cover. So if the cover inspired the story,
this game was already central to Pike's cover.
This tale is relentlessly grim, and not much fun.
Pike's cover for "Play With Fire" showed a biker uniform with insignia of tightly blindfolded skulls.
The uniformed biker who wears it is passionately kissing a woman.
Pike's cover for "Lying Lips" extends this blindfold imagery.
In both covers, blindfolding is linked to sexual feelings.
The blindfolded hero Ron on the "Lying Lips" cover wears an extreme Mod shirt.
It is not flattering, unfortunately.
But it does look decadent and transgressive: important aspects of Mod fashion.
It has a huge pointed collar.
Good-looking men in the background are laughing derisively, on the cover.
The best art in the story "Lying Lips" shows the blindfolded men.
They tend to have rich heads of hair, that stick out over the blindfold.
The first man to be blindfolded in the story is Ron again, looking very different from the cover.
Ron wears a shirt with a slightly big pointed collar.
However, one of the images of him kissing shows the collar with long giant points,
like the hero's Mod shirt in "That Special Man". It looks great (bottom right on page 3).
Such collars are transgressive and phallic. Unfortunately,
none of the other portraits of Ron show his shirt this way. It is oddly inconsistent.
The second blindfolded man is wearing a shirt or jacket styled as a uniform.
There is a chest patch pocket and epaulettes. This too is Mod (top of page 5).
None of the other men in the tale are especially Mod.
The heroine is only present at the first party with Ron, because she is serving pizza to the guests.
She is there in a subservient role. The story invokes Hierarchy.
What Kind of a Girl are You? (Young Romance #162, October - November 1969).
The men in this tale wear unique Mod creations:
All of these Mod shirts are striking and unusual. They tend to be pullover type
shirts, with different kinds of innovative geometric patterns on them.
The shirts are not loud, or particularly flamboyant looking.
Instead, they seem to be making innovative statements.
- One wears a shirt with dozens of thin, swirling lines. The lines
start at the collar, and radiate outwards. Most are thin lines;
but two on the left and two on the right are thicker. The whole
shirt has a Op Art effect.
- Another man has lines of small circles radiating from his collar.
- A third Mod shirt has a single jagged line, running from the shoulder to the belt.
More traditional men's clothes are here too.
The sport coat with the black and white stripes at the end is striking.
Even better: the salesman who is dressed in
a traditional black suit, white dress shirt and black and white striped tie.
He looks like the last word in traditional elegance.
It is easy to imagine him as the romantic hero of a 1950's comedy.
The Flag Uniform. Nick Cardy's cover of Girls' Romances #144 (October 1969)
shows a man dancing in a Mod uniform based on the U.S. flag.
He wears a short waist-length blue jacket with white stars, and aggressively white-and-red striped bell-bottoms.
The jacket is close-fitting and the bell-bottoms are skintight.
Both being uniformed and on an elevated platform makes him dominant over a much squarer rival standing below.
He wears a big black leather belt buckled in front and high-heeled black leather boots also with a buckle.
Jimmy Olsen had also worn high-heeled pointed-toe boots while dressed as a rock singer in
"Bizarro-Jimmy, Rock-'n'-Roll Star" (Jimmy Olsen #87, September 1965), with art by John Forte.
Buckled boots are also worn by other romance comic cover heroes:
the rock star guitarist in "Operation Star" and the motorcyclist in "Play With Fire".
Rock Stars. Flag-based stage uniforms were worn by rapper Vanilla Ice in his performances.
Singer JC Chasez of 'N SYNC wore a U.S. flag shirt, sitting on a motorcycle
for a cover of Teen People (November 2001).
He's pointing straight at the viewer like Uncle Sam Wants You.
Pulp Magazine Covers. Football uniforms inspired by the U.S. flag are on the covers of pulp magazines:
Complete Sports (Vol 4 #3, November 1942), Complete Sports (Vol 5 #2, January 1947).
The uniforms are related. Both show an area around the player's neck, filled with white stars on a blue background.
This is one-half of the imagery of the U.S. flag. But the uniforms do not include white-and-red stripes.
Men in White
Miss Peeping Tom. "Miss Peeping Tom" (Young Romance #193, April - May 1973), drawn by Art Saaf.
THE ATHLETES. This tale offers variations on the rock star tale paradigm:
As usual in Saaf, the men's clothes suggest that they are comfortable in social institutions and roles,
here the life of athletes. As is often the case in Saaf, the men seem to own the turf.
Things take place in locales in which they are in charge.
- Its glamorous men are athletes rather than rock singers.
- The photographer heroine has to photograph them for an assignment, rather than being personally mesmerized by them.
Still, her gaze is relentlessly focussed on them.
- Like the other tales' rock stars, the three athletes wear uniforms as part of their work.
- And the three perform in elevated areas: a diving board, leaping up to make a basket, a rooftop workout area.
This is like the elevated stages of the rock stars.
- The rock stars are often members of groups or have support staff. The athletes are Captains of teams.
- These groups are carrying out carefully planned actions.
- Like the rock stars, the athletes seem calm and confident.
- The athlete hero Steve Anderson pilots an exceptionally phallic canoe.
He works out on a roof full of phallic pipes and chimneys.
The young man shown kissing at the start (page 1) has skyscrapers towering in the background.
All of these correspond to the phallic guitars of the rock stars.
The three athletes have both first and last names. They include swim team Captain Andy Green,
basketball team Captain Dick Foster, and weight-lifting team Captain Steve Anderson.
This gives these men extra power and prestige. The same is true of related men in
other tales: baseball star Danny Fields in "Play with Fire", quarterback Dan Casey in "Enemies in Love",
sailor Kent Paris in "Hard to Handle".
THE FACULTY ADVISOR. The faculty advisor in "Miss Peeping Tom" is really cool. He wears sharp, authoritative suits.
They are both Mod and dressy, in the Art Saaf tradition. One is pinstriped, the other solid gray.
Both approaches indicate authority figures.
One can tell he is dressing this way deliberately, to look like an authority figure.
After all, that is his job at school.
The faculty advisor's hair is elaborately coifed with the sort of military precision found in other Saaf males,
such as the mesmerized young men at the rock concerts in "That Special Man" and "The Bet".
All of these guys look as if they are operating under some sort of discipline -
whether self-imposed or imposed by others is unclear.
The faculty advisor has many strategies that cement his image as an Authority Figure:
All of these techniques are harmless to others. The advisor's strategies are lacking in malice.
But they strongly convey an Authority Figure image.
- The advisor makes the most of his hierarchical relation with his principal.
He calls the principal "sir" and implies he's operating
under a military-style Chain of Command.
The advisor is clearly much more interested in this than the principal, who barely notices or takes part.
- The advisor assigns a task to the heroine, and tells her he will evaluate her performance when it's done:
classic Authority Figure behavior (page 4).
- The advisor gives moral instruction to his subordinates: telling the camera club members to "give her a chance!".
He even has an instructor's hand gesture (page 4). The instruction is in the form of an order. He sounds sincere and fatherly.
- The way the three athletes are Captains of their teams suggests a world full of hierarchies.
It is the faculty advisor who brings these three guys into the story (page 4). It is as if he knows
that the more hierarchies he invokes, the more solid his own hierarchy and Authority Figure status is.
Like the athletes, and the rock stars in other tales, the faculty advisor is likely good at planning.
He has thought out all these strategies in advance. Then is looking for opportunities to implement them.
By this time, he is exceptionally slick at finding such opportunities and acting on them.
Hard to Handle. "Hard to Handle" (Love Stories #150, June - July 1973) is also drawn by Art Saaf.
It recalls the slightly earlier "Miss Peeping Tom": a muscle-man hero in a plain white tee shirt;
a hero who runs a boat; a society with men organized into chains of command. something celebrated by the stories;
a happy ending.
Hoaxes in fiction often benefit from hierarchical chains of command.
See my discussion.
A MOVIE ANCESTOR. "Hard to Handle" seems inspired by J. M. Barrie's play The Admirable Crichton (1902),
and even more by a musical film loosely inspired by Crichton, We're Not Dressing (1934).
Both "Hard to Handle" and We're Not Dressing have:
THE HERO. Hero Kent Paris is in all white, both tee shirt and pants. This sounds plain.
Actually Kent Paris is one of Saaf's most handsome leading men.
Sometimes his face looks like that of a tough guy. Other times, he seems boyishly charming in an All-American way.
- Similar revelations about the hero's profession.
- A plot twist in which the heroine discovers something on a remote part of the island.
The discovery in "Hard to Handle" is more interesting, and contains more punch.
Its impact is extended by a final revelation in the story.
Kent Paris has blond hair. He resembles other blond musclemen by Saaf in having lots of precisely coifed hair,
such as weight-lifter Steve in "Miss Peeping Tom", rock star Jesse in "That Special Man", and boxer Tommy in "I Gave My Love Away".
Like Steve, Kent Paris's hair can sometimes look straight, other times wavy,
depending on what looks most sexy at the moment. By contrast, rock star Jesse's hair is always richly, complexly wavy,
maybe even a bit curly.
The precision with which these men wear their hair, is part of their arsenal. It suggests all sorts of things,
including a commitment to discipline.
Kent Paris is a bit older than these other men. He's old enough to be an authority figure, given half a chance.
He's expert at authority figure behavior, like assigning the heroine tasks, and judging her performance on them.
He conveys a calm confidence when doing such authority figure actions.
COVER. The cover by Jay Scott Pike, shows the heroine caught in the hero's net.
It might be inspired by an episode in the science fiction comic book tale
"Fishermen from the Sea" (Strange Adventures #105, June 1959) (page 5).
This shows both the hero and heroine caught in the net of alien fishers.
The heroine in both tales, is a blond woman with lots of hair in a red dress.
Also: Pike's version of the hero on the cover, looks quite different from Saaf's in the actual story.
The heros are dressed differently too: Saaf's hero wears a white tee shirt and white pants,
while Pike's wears a white sweatshirt and dark pants.
AUTHORSHIP. Robert Kanigher edited the issues, in which
"Miss Peeping Tom", "Play With Fire", "That Special Man" and "Hard to Handle" appeared.
Did he write the stories? These tales, like most DC romance comics of the era, have no writers credited.
Kanigher contributed stories to The Flash that were explicitly credited to him.
Some of these share elements with these romance tales.
This makes it likely that the romance tales are also by Kanigher:
- "Case of the Curious Costume" (Flash #161, May 1966) ends with Flash's girlfriend telling him
"How could I not forgive you, darling?" A similar declaration ends "Hard to Handle".
- "The Secret of the Empty Box" (Showcase #8, June 1957) (pages 9, 12) has its heroine assign the Flash
a task of getting her something to drink, while putting him down for being slow.
The rock star hero of "That Special Man" (page 1) does the same thing.
There is a gender reversal in the two tales.
- "The Secret of the Empty Box" (pages 10, 11) has its villains laugh superiorly at the Flash.
This anticipates "Play With Fire".
Waiting For Someone to Love Me. "Waiting For Someone to Love Me"
(Falling in Love #116, July 1970). Art: Art Saaf.
A nurse falls in love with an arrogant playboy who is one of her patients.
The blond hero resembles the later blond muscle-man of "Hard to Handle".
Love's a Stage "Love's a Stage" (Girls' Love Stories #180, October - November 1973).
Writer: ?. Art: Jay Scott Pike ?.
A stage actress finds a handsome, likable newspaperman at the publication that gave her a bad review.
The newspaperman hero Barry is dressed as a social Authority Figure, in a good suit.
His evaluation of the heroine's acting is Authority Figure behavior.
Evaluating other people's job performance is what Authority Figures do.
He has a whole, powerful social institution behind him, too, the newspaper.
SYMBOLS. Barry is loosely linked to phallic symbols:
- The arrow on the newspaper sign (page 1).
- The rail and post outside the hero's desk (page 1).
- The stools in the coffee shop (top of page 3).
- The fountain in the park (page 4).
LINKS. "Love's a Stage" has features that recall "Miss Peeping Tom" and especially "Hard to Handle":
A different character in "Love's a Stage": the handsome actor seen only on the splash.
- Like them, it comes to a happy ending, with the characters finding fulfillment.
- All three tales have Authority Figure men in them. In "Love's a Stage" and "Hard to Handle"
this Authority Figure is the tale's romantic hero.
- In both "Hard to Handle" and "Love's a Stage" the hero deceives and hoaxes the heroine,
so he can spend time with her and romance her. This is treated as a perverse but Good Thing by the tales.
The actor kissing the heroine on the splash is dressed like the hero of "Hard to Handle".
Both men have shirts and trouser cuffs that end in ragged edges. This suggests "rough" environments.
The actor has the Mod, elaborately coiffed hair of men in romance comic tales.
A difference: the actor in "Love's a Stage" wears laced-up boots,
rather than the simple shoes of "Hard to Handle". His clothes are more uniform-like.
His kiss is designed to make the heroine just a bit awkward:
she has to stretch up on her toes to meet him. This tension likely heightens her feelings.
White Medical and Lab Uniforms
The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters. The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters (1964)
is a short-lived, two-issue comic book from Archie Adventure Comics, about Dr. David Masters.
Dr. Masters is a physician, not a rock star. But his activities have some broad links to the rock singers:
Other comic book heroes are encased in similar elaborately buttoned white uniforms:
- He wears a special glamorous uniform while working. It's a white doctor's uniform.
It's not lace-up, but it is elaborately buttoned.
- He also wears a simple air uniform, while parachuting in to help patients,
on the cover of his second issue,
- He can perform his job in elevated areas: a high-rise construction site in the first issue,
parachuting in the second issue.
- The skyscrapers and construction cranes on the first issue's cover serve as phallic symbols.
So are the stair rail and fireplug at the start. And the girder Dr. Masters crawls along
on the construction site (Part II page 3), and the acetylene torch (Part II page 5).
- Dr. Masters becomes dominant over a dangerous armed robber he captures,
in "Dr. Masters' Desperate Decision".
These white medical uniforms have common features.
Their front panel buttons up the side or top, and the erect collar also buttons.
The front panels do indeed recall some police uniforms, while the erect collars evoke some military uniforms.
- Police scientist Barry Allen, secret identity of
The Flash, wore a similar white lab coat in
"Return of the Super-Gorilla" (The Flash #107, June-July 1959) (pages 4, 5, 15).
- Dr. Will Ames in "No Cure for Love" (Young Love #39, September - October 1963). Art: John Romita.
Both Will Ames and the Flash have brush-cut hair, which adds to their uniformed look.
Both are blonds. The buttons on Will Ames's uniform go right up the side of his erect circular collar.
Will Ames also appears in a dashing long coat over his medical scrubs,
and in a sharp Mad Men era style suit.
- John Romita's cover for "The Love I Never Held" (Young Love #50, July - August 1965).
Rails in front of the muscular doctor serves as phallic symbols.
- John Romita's cover for "Veil of Silence" (Young Love #46, November-December 1964).
- Dick Giordano's cover for "Reach for Happiness" (Secret Hearts #136, June 1969).
This doctor's uniform has two buttons on its erect circular collar: one more than Dr. Will Ames.
- The inventor hero Robert Arnold of
"The Amazing Rain of Gems" (Strange Adventures #73 (October 1956)
looks muscular and classy in a white lab coat mad matching trousers. He too has two buttons on his erect circular collar.
In his haste to solve a crisis, he wears the lab coat in places, such as the streets, where such lab gear is rarely worn.
He makes a uniformed contrast to the men in business suits on the street.
At the tale's end, he wields a massive phallic ray. Art: Sid Greene.
- The scientist wears a rather similarly shaped lab coat in "The Man Who Lived Forever"
(Strange Adventures #145, October 1962).
But it is colored light green, rather than white. Art: Murphy Anderson.
- In "Here Come the Wild Ones" (Strange Adventures #160, January 1964) (page 11),
Murphy Anderson pictures a scientist doing an experiment.
His white uniform buttons up the left side, and on the erect collar.
- The courageous middle-aged doctor in "The Pageant of Plunder" (World's Finest #4, Winter 1941) (page 2), a Zatara tale.
- The young scientist hero and his lab assistant in the Robotman origin tale
"The Birth of Robotman" (Star Spangled Comics #7, April 1942) (pages 2, 3, 4, 5). Art: Leo Nowak.
The two good guys look identically uniformed.
The large front panel of their lab coats, buttons up both vertically along the side, and
horizontally along the front of the shoulder. They also wear white shoes.
- A phony lab scientist in
"Superman versus Luthor" (Superman #4, Spring 1940) (pages 2, 3).
- The scientist-inventor in "The Cry-Baby of Metropolis" (Lois Lane #10, July 1959) (pages 3, 4).
Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- A handsome young lab technician in
"Lois Lane's Super-Brain" (Lois Lane #27, August 1961) (page 1). Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- The crooked medical worker in "Lois Lane's Signal Watch" and the doctor in "The Girl Who Refused To Marry Superman" (page 5)
both have such uniforms. Both tales are in the same issue (Lois Lane #38, January 1963).
Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- The fake medical workers wear identical white uniforms in
"Lois Lane, Hag" (Lois Lane #40, April 1963) (pages 4, 5, 10).
These gorilla-like muscle-men's uniforms button along the shoulder, and up the erect circular collars.
Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
- The Rest Home (sanitarium) attendants who control Lois in
"The Incredible Delusion" (Lois Lane #47, February 1964) (pages 1, 6, 7). Art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
Their uniforms button along the shoulder, and have erect circular collars. There are two different pairs of attendants;
the second pair are especially handsome (page 7).
- An older doctor in "Lois Lane's Romance with Clark Kent" (Lois Lane #39, February 1963).
- The three muscular ambulance attendants are in dressy, form-fitting white uniforms in
"The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk" (Superman #30, September-October 1944) (pages 2, 3).
The uniforms have erect circular collars and visored caps with insignia, but not buttons. Art: John Sikelka.
The head attendant is linked to an equally well-built cop in a dressy uniform.
His police uniform is as complex and detailed as the attendants' uniforms are elegantly simple.
- The two fake orderlies wear identical uniforms in "The Spy-Eye That Doomed Green Lantern"
(Green Lantern #17, December 1962) (pages 19, 21).
The uniforms button up the side and along the shoulder, and have erect collars.
- The three scientists in "The Case of the Real-Gone Flash" (The Flash #128, May 1962)
(pages 3, 4) wear lab coats with erect collars, but no buttons.
- The older, well-built police ballistics scientist in"The Strange Case of the Luckless Liars"
(Adventure Comics #75, June 1942) (pages 8, 9). A Starman tale.
- Both the young and older doctor in The Human Bomb tale
"Introducing Hustace Throckmorton" (Police Comics #15, January 1943) (pages 3, 4)
wear similar medical uniforms. They have front panels that button up on the left, and erect collars.
The older doctor is remarkably well-built (last panel on page 3). He's a uniformed authority figure.
Two stretcher-bearers are in a different uniform, also white and elaborately buttoned (pages 2, 3).
Its caps have an unusual rectangular, jutting visor. This uniform too has an erect collar, but in two sections,
unlike the circular erect collars of the other uniforms here. Art: Paul Gustavson.
- The stretcher bearers in
"Fighting Editor versus the Underworld" (Mr. District Attorney #8, March-April 1949) (page 4).
Art: Howard Purcell.
- The men in the D.A.'s lab who change Harrington's appearance in
"Second Chance Farm" (Mr. District Attorney #11, September-October 1949) (page 6).
Art: Howard Purcell.
- The rugged young attendant in
"Missing Persons Cop" (Mr. District Attorney #13, January-February 1950) (page 2).
Art; Dan Barry. His front panel buttons up on both sides.
- The well-built, serious young attendant with brush-cut hair in
"The Wire Tap Crimes" (Mr. District Attorney #16, July-August 1950) (page 5).
Art: Howard Purcell.
- A prison barber wears such a uniform while giving new prisoners involuntary haircuts in
"The Crime Warden" (Mr. District Attorney #16, July-August 1950).
Art: Howard Purcell.
- "Love Calls Twice" (Girls' Love Stories #102, April 1964). Art: Jay Scott Pike.
On the cover, the man on the right seems to be a doctor in one of these white uniforms: we can see the erect collar.
But mainly he is wearing a long coat. It might be leather. The man on the left is in a blue suit.
It looks incredibly shiny, maybe iridescent. Very unconventional for 1964.
Such uniform coats completely encase the heroes, both their chests and necks.
Their elaborate buttons make them look hard to remove.
Richard Chamberlain on the TV medical series Dr. Kildare sometimes wore such white medical uniforms.
They buttoned up the side, along the shoulder, and on the collar. However, the collar is shorter and flatter
than many comic book uniforms. See the episode A Shining Image (Buzz Kulik, 1961).
Cars: Magazine Ads
Firebird. White tee shirts sometimes appeared in glamorous ads: see the November 1968 print ad for the
1969 Pontiac Firebird 400.
It features a muscular young man in a white tee and his spectacular silver car.
The man's casual-looking tee is just the right size to show off his huge chest, arms and neck.
The white round motorcycle helmet he carries echoes the white curving muscles under his white tee shirt.
The helmet has a large black visor, and suggests a motorcycle cop's helmet.
The precise way the hero is carrying the helmet, tucked under his arm, also suggests a police official.
Both the helmet and his stance subtly suggests he is uniformed.
The helmet is phallic looking. So are his car and his motorcycle.
The ad is entitled "The Graduate." Its hero does look as if he is graduating from college, and achieving manhood.
The hero's white tee shirt anticipates Kent Paris in the romance comic book tale "Hard to Handle" (Love Stories #150, June - July 1973).
Both men's white tees are linked to roles: Kent Paris is a sailor, the Graduate is a biker.
Both men benefit from the macho mystique of these roles. But neither wants to be permanently
categorized by them either, as their tales make clear. The Graduate's big black motorcycle is now marked "For Sale".
The ad copy refers to both of the ad's main subjects:
The ad also appeared in college sports souvenir programs, as early as October 28, 1968.
- Motorcycles. It begins: "We'll grant you two wheels are better than none.
But look what happens when Firebird swoops onto the scene. If it's our 400 version."
- College Education. After an enthusiastic account of the car's powerful engine, it adds:
"Obviously all that genius is below decks. Topside, Firebird comes with all-new looks. Inside, new comfort."
The ad concludes: "Hood tach, front disc brakes, variable-ratio power steering, polyglas-cord, wide-tread rubber . . .
all that great Pontiac stuff . . . will practically let you build your own Firebird . . . if you want to.
And that's a liberal education in itself."
Another good ad for Pontiac (February 1969) is perhaps by the same photographer and gung ho writer.
It also has similar text formatting.
It's cleverly titled "We'd like to put in a good word for hoods."
It sounds like it's praising hoodlums. But then one realizes it's talking about car hoods.
The ad keeps up both meanings.
It shows five serious, well-dressed men in dark clothes and lots of attitude standing behind a bright red Firebird.
The handsome man in front in the slick suit is staring challengingly at the viewer.
So are many of the good-looking members of his team. The man in the photo is delightfully ambiguous.
Maybe he is the leader of a slick group of hoodlums, maybe from Las Vegas.
Or maybe he and his buddies are just a group of successful young businessmen.
Like the Graduate, who's a well-built biker, these guys have more of a dark side than typical men in ads.
The ad-copy continues to praise hoods: "Why not? We've got the toughest looking in the business.
Take that sweep of metal on the '69 Pontiac Grand Prix. You won't find a longer stretch from Sing Sing to Alcatraz."
And ends: "Obviously, this is no year to go around bad-mouthing Pontiac's hoods."
Both "We'd like to put in a good word for hoods." and "The Graduate":
- Are narrated by a group that refers to itself as "we". This group is allied to Pontiac, and perhaps is a spokes-group.
But it is not quite Pontiac, and refers to Pontiac in the third person. And "we" are definitely not the men in the photos.
- Have "we" offer logical arguments to the ad's reader.
- Have "we" be expertly knowledgeable on everything from cars to education to the virile, aggressive lifestyles of bikers and hoods.
- Have the men in the photos stare directly at the viewer.
Camaro. Ads for the Camaro resembled those for the Firebird.
The two best ads show a bright red Camaro, like the red Firebird in "We'd like to put in a good word for hoods."
These two ads are "New Camaro. Feb. 26th." (late February 1970) and
"New Camaro. One look says a lot. One drive says it all." (April 1970).
Both ads feature the same hunky guy. He's well-muscled, like the star of the Firebird ad "The Graduate".
He's more respectably dressed though, in sweaters:
"New Camaro. Feb. 26th." is sometimes made part of a two-page spread of even three-page spread.
(See Life magazine, February 27, 1970, for the three-page version.) It appears on the right page.
While the left page shows a guy with a blue Camaro.
The left page guy is wearing a white shirt with a big patch pocket,
over a bulky white sweater. The shirt has uniform qualities. It also looks restrictive, with tight cuffs,
and odd double buttons in front. He looks trapped in all this layered clothing.
The sweater has a high turtleneck collar, encasing and trapping his neck.
He wears a wide brown leather belt, adding to the layered, trapped look.
The brown leather is distinctly less macho than black leather would be.
It has an unusual shiny glaze, calling attention to itself.
The extra-broad belt loops of his black trousers also really stand out, against the brown belt.
- In the first ad he wears a light sweater over an open collar shirt. The sweater is full of glamorous phallic folds.
He's also got his hands on the car, which looks like a huge phallic symbol in front of him.
Both the hood and the headlight look spectacularly phallic.
He's got a big smile.
- His black sweater in the second ad is edgier.
It is all black, except for the erect yellow collar that encircles his huge neck.
His girlfriend looks like she is in control of the car.
Instead of a phallic symbol, the circular headlight of the car makes a circle or female symbol.
He looks apprehensive.
The two men look a bit like the pairs in romance comic "rock star" tales, such as "That Special Man" (1973):
Corvette. The enthusiastic car-talk in the Firebird ads recalls earlier ads for other cars.
These ads all have:
- The man on the right recalls the rock stars: in control, happy, well-built, and sporting large phallic symbols.
The discussion below the photo about announcing a car, links him to planning and an organization,
also rock star attributes.
- The guy on the left recalls the men in the audience at the concerts: encased in heavy odd Mod fashions,
and completely out of control of the situation.
The Corvette Stingray ad "The car that talks back." ran in The New Yorker (May 4, 1968).
"Corvette tells you what's happening under the hood - an instrument panel crammed with gauges
keeps you informed: water temperature, oil pressure, ammeter, tachometer, rally clock,
brake system warning light, even a fiber-optic monitoring system for the running lights.
The rest of the message you get from your fingers on the wheel and the seat of your pants.
It's a meaningful man-machine relationship." The handsome man in the sweater looks keen.
Like the other men in the Corvette ads, he is at once wholesome and aggressive.
The car's silver metal side mirror stands up in front of him like a phallic symbol.
- A large beautiful photo, showing a handsome man with a car.
- A title phrase with a period at the end.
- Enthusiastic prose full of car talk.
- A punchy final statement with some sort of clever phrase, often a parody on an intellectual reference.
The Corvette Stingray ad "Perpetual emotion machine." ran in Sports Illustrated (June 10, 1968)
and The New Yorker three days later.
The ad read: "Fair warning: Something about this one will get you all unglued.
Maybe the slippery shape. Or maybe all that energy under the hood.
Or the road-ready combination of independent suspension and disc brakes at all four corners.
Whatever it is, the '68 Vette has got to be one of the most desirable cars ever built.
So desirable, in fact, that you can order an exclusive new anti-theft warning system for it.
Now, if anyone opens a door or the hood, he triggers a blurting, blaring horn.
You might call it a piece of resistance for a pièce de résistance."
Here the bulging hood of the car itself, in front of the driver at the wheel, forms a phallic symbol.
Photo: Mickey McGuire and Jimmy Northmore of Boulevard Photographic, Inc.
McGuire and Northmore of Detroit's Boulevard Photographic studio provided car photography for many years.
The photo was included in a Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit, and in its accompanying book
The Car and the Camera: The Detroit School of Automotive Photography (1996) by
David Lanier Lewis, Bill Rauhauser, Alan Phipps Darr, Tracey Albainy.
A pair of ads show a gleaming off-green '69 Corvette. One is titled
"You don't have to beware of substitutes. There aren't any." It concludes:
"It figures Corvette is the only genuine sports car built in America.
One like this is enough to discourage anybody else from even trying."
The other ad reads:
"With this one beautiful exception, there is no such thing as a true American sports car."
The evocation of how "beautiful" the car is, is especially daring in this macho context.
It evokes all sorts of feelings. Some of these are transgressive.
Another ad is titled "Superiority complex." It features a bright red Corvette.
The text concludes "That's the real beauty of Corvette. It does all the work, you get all the credit."
This is a hidden evocation of the "beauty" of the car again.
It also links that beauty to an unfair advantage for the driver.
Earlier the ad says that Corvette is "The kind of car that brings out the driver in you.
And why not? Everything is in your favor."
A Corvette ad was titled "Did you expect anything less from The Leader?"
It calls the Corvette "an astonishingly beautiful sports car".
Stripes and pinstripes often appeared in men's clothes in the
romance comic books, around 1970. Here is a list:
Falling in Love
- 109 (August 1969) Cover
- 110 (October 1969) Cover; They Called Me a Boy Chaser
- 112 (January 1970) Cover; Match-Maker, Match-Breaker
- 114 (April 1970) Somewhere I'll Find Him
- 118 (October 1970) Cover; I Found My Love at the Woodstock Festival
- 129 (February 1972) Cover
- 141 (June - July 1973) Enemies in Love
- 143 (October - November 1973) Pushover
Girls' Love Stories
- 162 (October - November 1969) What Kind of a Girl are You?
- 180 (March 1972) Cover
- 183 (June 1972) Cover
- 181 (April 1972) The Shadow Between Us
- 184 (July 1972) Cover
- 192 (March 1973) Cover
- 193 (April - May 1973) Miss Peeping Tom
- 142 (April 1969) Cover
- 148 (January 1970) Cover
- 150 (April 1970) Cover
- 154 (October 1970) Cover; Too Spoiled for Love
- 156 (January 1971) Lover - or Liar
- 163 (November 1971) Cover
- 164 (December 1971) Cover
- 168 (April 1972) Cover for "The Bet"
- 170 (June 1972) Cover
- 173 (September 1972) Cover
- 177 (April - May 1973) Make Love To Me
- 128 (October-November 1970) Cover; No Love for Miss Goody Two-Shoes
- 132 (June - July 1971) Cover
- 135 (November 1971) Cover
- 138 (February 1972) Cover
- 140 (April 1972) Cover
- 145 (September 1972) Cover for "The Show Off"
- 146 (October 1972) Cover
- 132 (December 1968) Cover
- 143 (April 1970) Cover
- 149 (March - April 1973) Cover; Pretty Chick
- 151 (August - September 1973) Cover; Dumb Doll; Don't Use Me; The Game of Love
- 152 (October - November 1973) That Special Man
- 144 (October 1969) Cover (Flag Uniform)
- 148 (April 1970) Cover
- 152 (October 1970) Cover (Mod shirt)
- 157 (June 1971) Cover
- 2 (January 1973) Death of a City
- 6 (August 1973) Cover
Our Love Story
- 79 (March - April 1970) Cover; Go to Her, My Darling
- 91 (January 1972) Cover for Catch a Falling Star
- 103 (March - April 1973) Operation Star
- 104 (June - July 1973) Veil of Love
- 105 (August - September 1973) Angry Heart
- 5 (June 1970) But He's Not the Boy for Me
Athletes in Stripes
The college football player on the cover of "The Show Off" (Heart Throbs #145, September 1972)
has small sections of orange-and-white stripes on his sleeves, socks and helmet.
This is one of the best football uniforms in the comics.
The well-built fellow on the cover (Girls' Love Stories #173, September 1972) is in
an aggressively striped dress shirt that really shows off his muscular arms and chest. He's got bad news and looks sad.
But things can't be too bad, since he's surrounded by large phallic symbols on the dock where he's perched.
These include a long tilted board running under his seat. Art: Art Saaf.
Art by Don Heck
An earlier well-built guy in a striped dress shirt is on the cover (Girls' Romances #157, June 1971).
He too is on a dock filled with jutting phallic symbols. Art: Don Heck.
Both his striped shirt and snow white pants are skintight. He wears a tight big black leather belt.
He recalls the actor Paul Dennis on the cover of "Catch a Falling Star" (Young Love #91, January 1972), also by Don Heck.
Paul Dennis too is well-muscled and in a skintight sweater. He wears a giant black leather belt.
A piano player in the background wears striped bell-bottoms and a black leather vest.
Vertically Striped Swimsuits
Vertically striped bathing suits:
The tough, muscular man on Falling in Love #109 also wears a sleeveless beach jacket
that is styled like a motorcycle jacket, with a big collar, slash pockets and zippers.
Its gray color suggests a sweatshirt and other athletic practice wear: usually a symbol of jocks in the comics.
His clothes seem carefully designed to ooze aggression.
One of the young men on the beach in Falling in Love #109 holds a phallic guitar.
- The man on the cover of Falling in Love #109 (August 1969) is in an aggressively vertically striped bathing suit.
- So is the man on the cover of Secret Hearts #132 (December 1968).
- The lifeguard in "Somewhere I'll Find Him" (Falling in Love #114, April 1970) (page 3).
- The hero of "Veil of Love" (Young Love #104, June - July 1973).
A flashback shows him in a uniform with Sergeant's chevrons. Art: John Rosenberger.
- Super-hero the Elongated Man, in "Curious Case of the Barn-Door Bandit" (Detective Comics #328, June 1964) (page 10).
This tale is discussed in the article on The Flash.
- The posters for the film Lifeguard (1976).
Romance in Stripes
The hero and heroine are at an ice cream shop, on the cover of Falling in Love #112 (January 1970).
The muscular hero is in a orange-yellow-and-black striped shirt. He wears a turned-up collar.
The couple's ice cream sodas match their outfits: the heroine's pink strawberry drink echoes her red-and-white dress;
the hero's chocolate soda harmonizes with his shirt. Art: Nick Cardy.
The couple look like the couple in Cardy's "flag uniform" cover (Girls' Romances #144, October 1969).
Their clothes have similarities: the heroine on the flag cover is in red-and-white;
the hero on both covers is aggressively striped.
More casually dressed is the muscular hero on the cover (Young Romance #192, March 1973).
He's got the (very willing) heroine in a clench. His legs are encased in striped trousers.
Art: Probably Art Saaf.
These romance tales were actually before the fashion industry decided that
pinstripes were the power look for men, in the mid-1970's.
So comic books were a bit ahead of the fashion curve.
However, one can see non-comic-book fashion examples of pinstripe suits at an earlier date:
The faculty advisor in "Miss Peeping Tom" is really cool. He wears sharp, authoritative suits.
They are both Mod and dressy, in the Art Saaf tradition. One is pinstriped, the other solid gray.
Both approaches indicate authority figures. The pinstripe suit has such flamboyant Mod features as huge peaked lapels
and large side pockets. Somehow these only underscore how dressy the suit is.
- The TV-movie A Clear and Present Danger (James Goldstone)
had its powerful lawyer hero in pinstripe suits. It was broadcast March 21, 1970.
Hal Holbrook played the lawyer.
This was around the same time that striped suits became big in romance comic books.
- The episode The Falcon (Part Three) of Mission Impossible has
classy hero Peter Graves in a gray pinstripe suit. Broadcast January 18, 1970.
The villain's jet-black uniform with gold trim is also sharp. Costumer: Forrest T. Butler.
The hero of "Lover - or Liar" is shown wearing probably the best suit Art Saaf ever gave to one of his heroes.
It's a remarkably sharp double-breasted gray one with numerous thin stripes. The high fashion hero also wears cuff links.
The hero combines the monied authority look with the Mod high fashion look in one sensational package.
If they ever make a movie about the seventies, one might do worse than use this as a model for the hero's clothes.
The hero also wears neat casual clothes. He climbs in and out of a window, with the window sill
serving as a phallic symbol (page 3).
The best image in "No Love for Miss Goody Two-Shoes" (1970) is on both the splash panel and the cover.
Art: Maybe George Tuska? Art Saaf?.
It shows a businessman making love to a woman at a party.
He is dressed in a blue-green suit with stripes running through it.
We see him at full length, stretched out over the seated woman, passionately kissing her.
He is one of the most dressed-up characters in the romance comics. His clothes mark him out as a big businessman.
He looks extremely elegant. He also looks overwhelmingly confident, both socially and sexually.
In the background, other slick business-suited men embrace women.
The cover of Young Love #79 (March - April 1970) shows
a well-built man all dressed up in a striped dark blue suit.
He is clearly a businessman, wealthy and successful.
He is holding a shiny black phone, which underlines the executive image, as well as giving him a power look.
The cover hero looks authoritative. He is giving an angry order.
His careful styling has certain Mod features: large side pockets on his suit, long black pointed sideburns.
The character of the boyfriend in "Too Spoiled for Love" (1970) changes between the cover and the story.
In both he is wearing a really good blue striped suit, and polished black leather shoes.
On the cover (maybe by Bill Draut), he is a smirking Bad Boy who knows how dressed up he is.
In the story (art by Ric Estrada), he's a sensitive Good Guy. He looks even more attractive though,
with a better build and a killer business power suit.
SPOILERS. The plot twist in the story, where he turns out to be working for the heroine's wealthy father,
will return in "Hard to Handle" (1973).
The cover of "They Called Me a Boy Chaser" (1969) has the heroine happily kissing a man in a good striped blue suit.
He's a well-built leading man type, and his suit is perfectly fitted and tailored,
showing off his muscular arms and chest. His suit makes him look both dignified and super-charged,
as if his muscular body is roaring to go. He also looks very successful and wealthy.
The story splash panel has an athlete in an orange and black striped sweater, another in a letter sweater.
The heroine of "Somewhere I'll Find Him" (1970) meets a man at a resort in a sharp pinstripe suit (pages 4, 5).
Tom Burns might actually be overdressed for a resort, but he looks good anyway in pinstripes.
The heroine Binnie regards Tom as an ideal figure of romance. His name is symbolic:
Tom is often associated with masculinity, while Burns suggests the heroine might be "playing with fire".
The desk clerk referring to him as "Mr. Burns" underscores his masculinity.
The clerk's deferential reference to him as "Mr." also suggests
a Chain of Command.
Tom Burns is the only person in the tale with a full name, giving him presence and suggesting his erotic power.
The racecar driver Brett of "Match-Maker, Match-Breaker" (1970) wears a black striped suit (page 3).
He earlier wears an overcoat over it, with a turned-up collar (page 3). He looks especially grown-up and mature.
The back view of him in the overcoat shows his broad shoulders. This anticipates another sexy Good Guy,
the hero Van Harrington of "Puppet on a String" (1973). Van Harrington shows even broader shoulders in his tux.
Art: Win Mortimer.
"But He's Not the Boy for Me" features a snobbish young woman who falls for a men's clothing salesman.
She's hunting for a rich husband, instead. The salesman's suits are some of the dressiest in comic books of the era.
Writer: Stan Lee Art: John Buscema. (Yes, Stan Lee wrote romance comics).
Go To Her, My Darling. (Young Love #79, March - April 1970).
The husband in this tale is extremely dressy throughout,
always wearing clothes that are appropriate for business.
This reaches its climax at the end of the tale, when he is in a very sharp double-breasted blue suit.
This is one of the dressiest images of any man in the romance comics.
The clothes are consistent with Mod fashions, but do not push them to extremes.
Instead, the suit emphasizes upper crust elegance.
The cover of the same issue shows a man all dressed up in a striped dark blue business suit.
This cover is for a different story. Still, it suggests that
this issue was experimenting in high-powered business looks for its heroes.
Both the cover hero and the husband in "Go To Her, My Darling" are in the spiffiest of business clothes.
Bad News (Falling in Love #143, October-November 1973). Susan can't decide
between her goody two shoes boyfriend and the slightly slimy hipster who pursues her.
This story is full of comedy. It takes clichés of the romance
comic and exaggerates them to the point of parody. Bob, her All-American
clean cut boy friend, never seems to make a pass at her. Bob is
always dressed in traditional clothes, including a tie and blazer
when on a date. The pathetic Ralph, on the other hand, dresses
like he is the ultimate Mod menace to women. Unfortunately, Ralph
is ugly, his clothes are tacky, and his bad boy repertory is limited
to trying to kiss the heroine at the end of their dates. He is
supposed to be the slimy Other Man, but the reader actually feels
sorry for him. He is in there, trying to be a major league romantic
menace, but life has not dealt him a very good hand. Bob is very
handsome, on the other hand, but he doesn't do anything with it.
He's like a block of wood. The romance starved heroine is caught
in the middle of this. She is completely confused, and not at
all sure what she wants. The fact that she is a perfectly "nice"
woman also makes her problems have an extra comic dimension.
All three of the characters are actually extremely good people.
Even Ralph just wants to wear Mod suits and kiss the heroine - he seems
like a genuinely decent guy behind his villain's mustache.
None of the characters has an ounce of meanness.
I have no idea how this story snuck into the romance comics.
It seems like a zany spoof of ideas taken seriously elsewhere.
Poor Paul (Young Love #100, October 1972) is an inventor.
The shirt the hero wears at the beginning is unusual.
It is a black shirt, with lots of small yellow dots all over it.
Whenever the shirt folds, the colorist has filled it with yellow creases.
The effect is of something strange and metallic, that reflects
light out of every crease. The collar also seems to reflect bright light at odd angles.
When the hero finally gets a job, he is wearing a suit with a
large patch pocket. It is very macho, and suggests that he has
now attained some sort of manhood. Such ne'er-do-well heroes who
finally get jobs always show up in suits at the end of the tale;
it is a romance comics tradition. See "Stray Cat" (Young Romance #202, November-December 1974)
and "No Wedding for Me" (1972). The heroes of those tales
wind up in extremely elegant suits or sport coats that suggest
they are now refined and well to do. By contrast, the hero "Poor Paul"
is dressed with macho assertiveness, as if he has finally got his act together.
The hero looks as if he might be a nerd. There are suggestions that
he is a genuine inventor. He might be very impractical, but he is not a phony
Dots. Mod shirts with circular dots, mainly in 1972/1973:
- "Poor Paul" (Young Love #100, October 1972).
- "Angry Heart" (Young Love #105, August - September 1973).
- The cover of Love Stories #149 (March - April 1973).
- "Somewhere I'll Find Him" (Falling in Love #114, April 1970) (page 4, lower left panel).
- The Mod shirt with a big pointed collar, worn by actor Joey Aresco in
Trial by Terror (November 21, 1973), an episode of the TV series Cannon.
This episode is most interesting for its sympathetic woman comic book artist (Anne Randall).
- Actor Michael J. Pollard appeared in a magazine fashion shoot (1973).
He wore a shiny dark blue shirt full of little dots of bright color.
Mod Clothes: Photographs
Mod Clothes: Magazines
Seagram's. Seagram's Gin had a long-running series of magazine ads.
They featured well-dressed men sharing their secrets for mixing perfect cocktails.
The series dates back at least to 1967.
In 1972, the men in the ads suddenly started wearing Mod suits, shirts and ties.
The three best 1972 ads have some of the top Mod fashion of the era.
The men have lots of neat, well-coifed hair: also a Mod ideal.
The men are shown with lots of phallic symbol tall thin glasses and bottles.
These ads are captioned:
Mod fashion was often wore by rock stars on record covers. And employed as stage uniforms of rock stars in comic books.
By contrast these Seagram's ads show "regular men", dressed in suits or sport coats for socializing.
- "Our summer drink secret? Pre-chill the glasses in the freezer." (July 1972). This thoughtful man is giving the viewer orders.
He's in a velvet jacket and wildly striped shirt.
- "Our martini secret? Onion stuffed olives." (October 1972). The muscular hero wears a spectacular off-red velvet sports coat, with giant lapels.
Or maybe it's a whole suit. He really looks as if he is enjoying himself. See Newsweek (November 6, 1972) (page 48).
- "The secret to a great Holiday party? Lots of mistletoe." (December 1972). His dark blue suit is far more conventional male attire.
But the hero looks really good in it.
Ken Harrelson. Baseball star Ken Harrelson appeared on the cover of
Sports Illustrated (September 2, 1968). He was dressed in one of the best Mod suits of the era.
The baby blue suit includes a Nehru jacket. Like the best Nehru jackets, it has an erect collar and broad shoulders.
He's photographed holding baseball bats: both a sign of his profession, and phallic symbols.
Harrelson, nicknamed "The Hawk", liked to wear other Mod styles too. He was one of the flamboyant figures of the era.
He was aggressive about pursuing a Mod look, in defiance of his baseball bosses:
- See this Mod shirt with puffy sleeves, and long tight cuffs with 3 buttons - a classic Mod approach.
- A spectacular double-breasted vest. Tight-fitting, with endless columns of buttons fastening it.
- A geometric shirt.
Robert Redford. Only Robert Redford could wear a spectacular pink suit in The Great Gatsby (1974).
It has that Mod feature, an elaborate double-breasted vest with columns of buttons.
Illustration by Richard Amsel, for GQ (March 1974).
Bobby Sherman. One of the best Mod outfits was worn by singer Bobby Sherman.
This was for his album Here Comes Bobby (1970).
Bobby Sherman wears a light-blue shirt, yoked in front like a cowboy shirt.
The shirt is also classically Mod, with puffy sleeves, tight cuffs, and a giant pointed collar.
The shirt's chest and arms are full of hanging fringe.
He wears this with deep blue leather pants. And black leather belt and shoes.
A similar shirt in white:
Mod Clothes: Books
Assignment Peking. Assignment Peking (1969) is a spy thriller novel by
Edward S. Aarons, published as a paperback original.
Its cover by Robert McGinnis shows the hero in a great off-white suit.
Charles Addams. Cartoonist Charles Addams put the Addams Family in over-the-top Mod clothes,
for the cover of his book My Crowd (1970). This is funny, and also creative.
Men's fashion magazines have some outstanding articles and layouts.
The 1986-1992 era is especially good in men's fashion. The dressy clothes actually look good on people:
not just the professional male models in magazines, but actual guys in real life.
For a bit more on fashion magazines, see this article's sections on The Wild One,
White Tie and Tails, Tuxedos.
"The Power Look" Issue. GQ's best issue of the 1980's is "The Power Look", GQ (September 1988).
It indicates the subtle way The Wild One and related films influenced business dressing.
The title article "The Power Look" shows well-dressed business executives -
and these photographs by Walter Chin are the definitive guide to 1980's business style.
Many are carrying expensive-looking, gleaming black leather attaché cases.
In their own executive way, these are as combative and aggressive-looking as
the black leather motorcycle jackets of The Wild One.
The men also wear excellent black leather business shoes, shined up to the max.
A second article "The Semiotics of Shoes" explores the meaning conveyed by footwear.
The table of contents illustration shows a well-shined upscale black leather business shoe,
worn by a man astride a motorcycle. It's incongruous but sexy. And makes its point
that business shoes can be as aggressive as the boots worn by bikers.
"The Power Look" is full of exceptionally dressy business suits.
Two chalk-striped suits are especially good: a navy blue (page 385) and a very dark gray (page 387).
A different photo of the gray suit is also on the issue's Contents (page 8).
Both suits are six-button double-breasted suits with peaked lapels: an archetypal good design for business suits.
See also an ad in the same issue for Alexander Julian showing such a suit (page 103).
The photo of Jesse Harris in the navy pinstripe (page 385) is so definitive a look at good business suits,
that it was used on subscription cards for GQ.
So was the close-up of Harris in a different suit, that opens the article (page 380-381).
Also good: Harris as one of two men in dressy light gray suits (page 389). These too look like business ideals.
(Harris also starred in a Walter Chin spread on casual wear "15 Easy Pieces", June 1988:
Harris' table-top pose is especially good.)
"The Power Look" (page 380) should be read together with a one-page introduction "City Style" (page 379).
"City Style" also introduces a later article, "GQ Predicts" (page 442), photographed by Lou Salvatori.
"GQ Predicts" is a pleasant look at tweed business wear, and shows its male models clowning around on New York streets.
"City Style" features one of the models from "GQ Predicts", James Guidera, similarly photographed on the streets.
But he is wearing, not casual tweeds, but a very dressy suit, like those in "The Power Look".
It's as if "The Power Look" and "GQ Predicts" were somehow magically fused together.
It's an unusual structural approach, to linking three articles. The broad-shouldered Guidera in "City Style"
looks exceptionally pleased, as if he knows he is outfitted in something special.
Guidera is surrounded by brightly colored phallic symbols: a fence, tow truck and tower in the background.
"City Style" and "GQ Predicts" are available online,
in a version that is clearer than the actual print edition.
The same model James Guidera in "GQ Predicts" is astride a red-orange and silver motorcycle.
The cycle's black leather seat is conspicuously phallic.
Guidera is encased in a tight-fitting gray tweed suit, a tweed with an attention-attracting surface.
Guidera in other shots holds a bicycle or chopsticks, both phallic symbols.
Another shot shows Guidera and another model John Pearson riding a bicycle built for two, a shot full of symbolism.
Blond John Pearson is on the front seat and dark-haired James Guidera is riding on the rear seat.
Much of the symbolism is "baked into" the design of the bicycle:
whoever sits on the rear seat looks like the Man in Charge. In this case rear-seated James Guidera is the boss.
Guidera also has a bigger smile, a dressier white shirt, shinier black shoes and a leather wrist-watch band:
all features that also make him look like the boss. With Pearson as his subordinate.
Guidera is gripping a phallic symbol. The bike is shiny silver, like a mirror.
The shots as a whole feature vehicles: buses, cars, taxis, big trucks and another bicycle.
The vehicles are brightly colored, powerful and very clean looking.
One wonders if they were carefully prepared for the photo shoot.
Both the vehicles and building signs are mainly in primary colors: red, yellow, blue.
A matched pair of shots show well-built James Guidera and John Pearson in similar three-piece suits,
each with an endless column of six buttons on the vest.
The suits are designed to make the men instantly identifiable as businessmen.
But Guidera's suit is better, with peaked lapels and matching diagonals on the shoulders
- features lacking on Pearson's suit. It also looks dressier and more imposing.
In all these features, Guidera is designed to look like the boss and superior,
and Pearson is set up to look like James Guidera's subordinate and inferior.
Also: James Guidera gets three solo photos, while John Pearson is only shown in images where
he is boss Guidera's subordinate.
John Pearson returned on a bicycle three years later in a Pierre Cardin ad (M November 1991) (page 77).
Here he is the star attraction, in a sweater. He now gets the phallic symbols:
the bike, and a tilted champagne bottle on his front basket. A later ad in the same series
shows Pearson looking great in a Pierre Cardin tuxedo (M December 1991) (page 57).
A Mock "Business Manual". Business advice manuals talked of
chains of command,
expressed in references to superiors (bosses and executives) and
inferiors (their subordinates and employees) in the hierarchical chain.
The manuals gleefully celebrated superiors' abilities, power and success,
and gave instructions on their workings to businessmen readers.
Some of these business advice books also detailed
superiors' ability to invade rivals' turf, territory, personal space, and offices.
The men's fashion magazine GQ wittily played on such writing,
in the brief unsigned piece on business suits "City Style" (GQ, September 1988) (page 379).
It too pretends to give detailed instructions to businessmen:
"There are two cities one must be perfectly suited for these days.
In the daytime power city, one must one-up one's colleagues, both superior and inferior,
with one's utter suitability to the job at hand. And in the nighttime and weekend style city,
one must impress one's maître d' but otherwise run right over the top of one's colleagues
with one's social and sartorial superiority. All in the spirit of fun, of course.
Increasingly, these two urban playing fields are invading each other's territory.
More and more businessmen can wear a tweed suit to the office without setting off the sprinkler system,
while that serious double-breasted doesn't look so out of place on the avenue on the weekend
or at the new hot club at night."
The next page examines business suits that express "The Power Look", as the feature is titled.
It continues the business language: "double-breasteds rose from
about 5 percent to about 30 percent of the business market in the last few years",
calls an executive in a peak-lapel suit a "peak performer".
It opens with a limitlessly perverse celebration of
hierarchy and the opportunities open to superiors:
"Power to the people was merely one of those quaint ideals of the Sixties,
but power to the executive branches is in vogue now more than ever."
This clearly refers to business executives, but it subtly reminds one
of the power of the U.S. President, and his executive branch of government.
The previous page's "City Style" played on the political power phrase
"key to the city" by saying "And here's the key to the modern city suit".
Chairs. See also "The Way They Wore: 1957-1987", GQ (June 1987) (page 192),
for a look at a shiny leather executive chair. (The recreation of Kennedy-era Mad Men
style suits on the next page is also something to see. The ultra-confident man wearing it looks sexy.
So does what might be the same man, in a very traditional Lanvin tux (page 198).)
A column in GQ (July 1988), Howard Kaplan's "Confessions of a Headhunter", explores
the tricky deep chairs reserved for an executive's visitors.
These chairs are "sharp-looking numbers, cowhide and chrome" -
the mix of black leather and shiny silver chrome is seen as something special.
The column is in the tradition of the era's business manuals,
that explain and cheerfully celebrate executives' possibilities, opportunities and power.
The linked article looks at many examples of such deep chairs.
Desk Set. "Desk Set" (March 1988) also offers a business manual style treatise on
the care-and-feeding of business power. This is a manual with a difference, however.
Business books seemed to show how men who already had power could exert it or maintain it.
Such key GQ articles as "Desk Set", "GQ Predicts" and "The Power Look" instead
show how Good Guy outsiders could learn to project a power image too.
These outsiders include technical experts, not just executives.
As the great comedian Jimmy Durante used to say, "Everybody wants to get in on the act!"
"Desk Set" looks at "Six double-breasted business suits that work overtime" worn by businessmen at fancy desks.
The suits are extraordinarily dressy. These men are in suits that express and downright exude business power.
"Business suits in serious shades and traditional cuts define this season's most powerful profiles".
Readers are instructed "Show you mean business with aggressive" styles.
The men occupy black leather and shiny silver chrome chairs: always a prestige combination.
Both the chair arms and desk legs are phallic.
Black leather is as aggressive in the business world, as it is in motorcycle jackets.
The men also use jet-black electronic equipment, engagement calendars, phones and pens.
These men are not all executives: the first man we see seems to be writing
a complex "state diagram" in his black leather notebook, and is likely a computer whiz, doing an analysis.
His spectacular power suit is designed to call attention to his broad shoulders and good build.
He looks thoughtful in his concentration on his work, and highly brainy.
The suit's subtle, rich color and complex lustrous surface finish make him look beautiful: a classic Good Guy image.
The suit's unique fabric has a high-tech look, that is impressive and just a bit intimidating.
The black-leather-and-chrome motif of the chairs is kept up by his leather notebook
with its gleamingly shiny chrome silver binder rings. And he wears a shiny wristwatch with a black leather strap,
as do others of these men. The precise leather straps remind one of the leather armbands worn by 1910's movie cowboys,
or the studded leather wristbands of today's heavy metal rockers. 1910's Western films' leather gear
are discussed in my article on Fritz Lang.
The man on the third page is likely a financial consultant or expert, judging by his calculator.
He does not seem to be primarily an executive.
Of course, he might be a Vice President in Charge of Finance, or some other executive title.
He's in a black suit with black-and-white accessories: clothes that are accurately described as "aggressive" in the caption.
His clothes are both beautiful and intimidating. His calculator is one of the cooler toys of the era.
It's black-and-silver, in keeping with the chairs. It's a carefully designed phallic symbol.
It's emitting, or ejaculating, rolls of white paper at the top.
The bow-tied man on the fifth page looks like some sort of high-powered consultant in the arts.
Maybe an expert on paintings. This is top GQ model Jesse Harris.
He's photographed from below, making him look in charge, while the unhappy business manager on page 6
is pictured from high above, making him look subordinate.
The computer expert on page 1 and financial expert on page 3 also look in charge.
By contrast, the business manager types facing them on pages 2, 4, 6 look subordinate.
These three experts (pages 1, 3, 5) all look as if they are doing things,
while the subordinate manager types on pages 2, 4, 6 look inactive.
"Desk Set" wouldn't be a business manual of the era, without "superior" men in charge, and "inferior" subordinates.
As usual, it is the superiors who get celebrated.
The three experts have iconography associated with rock stars: they are doing things that cause them to be admired,
their clothes have uniform-like undertones, they employ black leather, metal and phallic symbols.
Online. Photography: Lothar Schmid.
Schmid's name is credited, on the phallic black vertical line that supports the first desk.
The geometric forms in the photos, overhead angles, and reflections in the glass desktops
and chrome chairs, all recall Constructivist photography of the era of Alexander Rodchenko and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
After Hours. Frans Van Der Hayden did the photo shoot "After Hours" (November 1968).
It shows the sophisticated looks men wore to take part in Manhattan night life.
Best: the double-breasted, peak-lapel gray suit by Pal Zileri.
Also good: the long black coat by Bill Robinson, the hero wears over his dressy gray suit.
The shiny black leather gloves by Flores also help make the hero look encased.
More Suits. Todd Eberle in GQ photographed a young man in an excellent corporate suit.
Everything is heightened in the suit, beyond normal street wear.
It's a rich medium gray, almost a caramel-color. It has really loud pinstripes.
Huge peaked lapels, with pinstripes running up them. Big trouser cuffs. He's seated on a pile of newspapers.
Jesse Harris starred as James Bond, in the photo shoot "One Up on James Bond, the 017 looks of 007"
(April 1989). Photos: Mario Testino. Harris is shown in a good black suit and well-shined black shoes.
By GQ (February 1992), numerous manufacturers were offering superb suits in ads.
These were a fashion ideal of the period: double-breasted suits in solid colors, mainly some version of gray, often richly textured.
The suits were terrifically well-shaped. They would be flattering to almost any real-life man,
making him look very dressed up. And also cheerful and fun-looking. They were a paradise of fashion.
See the ads for: Canali (page 3), Cole Haan (page 4), Pal Zileri (page 13), Lubiam (page 18), Corneliani (page 23),
Impressions by Hart Schaffner & Marx (page 41), Fabio Inghirami (page 57), Principe (page 63), Redaelli (page 79).
There were also ads for the brightly colored sweaters of the era: also flattering to actual real-life men.
See: Perry Ellis (page 9), Pronto-Uomo (page 12), Nani Bon (page 40). Also brightly colored: the fashion spread
"Prints of Bel-Air" (pages 168-175) photographed by Dewey Nicks. This featured super-loud print shirts for spring,
worn with white shorts or "basic black jeans", as the spread puts it (page 174). The black jeans make their wearer look macho.
Shirts with lots of big circles were "in": a fashion idea that should be revived. These too would be flattering to real-life men.
Recordings. Suits showed up in other media. Classical pianist Barry Douglas wore a sharp gray suit
on the cover of his recording Pictures at an Exhibition (1987). It is patterned, peak-lapeled and double-breasted.
And very, very well-shaped.
Television. Such suits also appeared on television. High-powered, well-dressed men on Murder, She Wrote wore them:
Jeffrey Nordling as the prosecuting attorney in Dead to Rights (1993),
Alan Thicke as a corporate raider in The Phantom Killer (1993), the stockbrokers and corporate raider in
How to Make a Killing Without Really Trying (1990).
A different kind of dressy suit was worn by Sean O'Bryan on the episode Bloodlines (1993).
This was a severe all-business, all-black three-piece suit. O'Bryan carries a glitzy black leather attaché case,
also part of the businessman look.
Shift to Neutral. "Shift to Neutral" is subtitled "Business Battle Dress in Various Shades of Khaki",
GQ (January 1991) (page 82). It looks at good suits in neutral colors: khaki, light blue.
The article explicitly avoids the main points of business dress: navy blue or gray, pinstripes.
Instead it offers unexpectedly dressy clothes in neutral tones.
The suits are in solid colors, without patterns. This emphasizes their shape -
the suits look like exercises in pure shape. The models who wear them have friendly, regular guy faces -
and perfect builds. The builds and the pure shapes of the suits call attention to each other.
Photographed by Walter Chin. Like Chin's earlier "The Power Look", this is aggressive, polished business wear.
Khaki is a traditional color of uniforms. Some of these suits do indeed suggest uniforms,
being worn by more than one man:
By contrast, the article ends with a young man duded up to the max in a light blue double-breasted suit in a bookstore (page 91).
He's reading, is totally absorbed, and holding the book in front of him at a phallic angle.
- The first shot (page 82) shows a slim young man in a taupe suit.
He's surrounded by two much bigger men in similar khaki suits, who look like two cops coming to arrest him.
The two are seen from behind, in identical poses that underscore their massive shoulders.
- Later (page 86) a grinning young man in a khaki suit is part of a group of five men
in nearly identical clothes.
- And three young men are in double-breasted khaki suits (page 90).
Barry McKinley. GQ had good spreads in earlier eras. "Thoroughbred Dressing" (GQ September 1981)
is photographed by Barry McKinley. It shows aristocratic young men in the countryside, in horsey situations.
The men are mainly wearing spectacular riding boots. The tall heavy boots go up to the men's knees.
They are not lace-up: the riding boots' shafts are unbroken expanses of shiny leather.
The men wear attractive trousers in rich colors and fabrics. One is in shiny leather pants.
Others are in corduroy. The title spread shows the hero dramatically extending his leg straight out as he mounts a horse.
He and the other men look as if they are enjoying being sexy looking.
I don't know where most men would actually wear clothes like this in real life, but they look fun.
Barry McKinley did a cover of model Michael Holder, GQ (September 1978). It anticipates the Thoroughbred shoot:
a young man in country-ish clothes that mix the casual and the aristocratic, brown sports jackets, a sweater or vest, a soft shirt and tie.
Traditional rural Australia is the setting of "Tough Wear!" (GQ June 1983).
The young man in the long yellowish duster is a classic image of how people imagine the Outback.
The duster goes down to his ankles, breaking just over his suede lace-up half-boots.
The title page shows two young men who are eagerly climbing the world's most phallic windmill.
Their glances are looking up, firmly fixed on its summit. The text of the title page proclaims
"Mountaineering gear, military fatigues and cowboy classics . . . brawnier than ever - are all on Summer's comeback trail."
Cowboys. A man in cowboy gear is on the cover, GQ (August 1979). He's in an elaborately stitched cowboy hat,
a gray suede cowboy shirt with red trim, and carries a fancy gray leather boot. Silver metal is part of the outfit:
the ends of the string tie, the tie fastener with a horned bull sculpted on it, his belt buckle, the boot buckle, the spur on the boot.
The tie around his throat seems to be made of twisted strands of leather. So does a wrist band on his left wrist.
The band has an elaborate, complex fastener.
The cover lettering matches his outfit: red lettering picks up the red accents of his shirt,
and the yellow lettering is almost a match for his yellow throat scarf.
Photo: Albert Watson, of model Bart Turner.
An internal illustration by Albert Watson in the same issue shoes a cowboy in related clothes: another gray suede shirt, light gray jeans,
a string tie and gray spurred boots. The gray jeans are especially good looking.
He also wears a brown coat, that is less interesting than the rest of his outfit.
A second photo shows a cowboy in fancy but clean-cut clothes: a blue cowboy shirt with white trim, and white chaps.
The hero of the film The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) also wore what looks like a gray suede outfit.
It is less colorful than the GQ cover, being a pure light gray.
But it has elaborate button fastenings for its front shirt panel.
The shirt has some fringe: less than traditional on Western movie buckskins. The matching suede trousers have unusually long belt loops.
The elite space pilots in the short story "The Game of Rat and Dragon" (1955) by
Cordwainer Smith wear glamorous brown suede uniforms.
M was another magazine that like GQ, focussed on business dressing for men.
M never became as proverbial as GQ. But it was often detailed and informative.
Best Issue. M had its peak issue (August 1987) a year earlier than GQ (September 1988).
The article "At "21": Clothes for Serious Business" is the other definitive article on 1980's corporate style.
It was mainly filmed at the New York restaurant "21". Photographed by George Chinsee.
The opening image, of three men all in subtly different double-breasted navy pinstripe suits and good ties,
is a definitive rendering of the "power look". The three look like insiders, and power players in business.
They look as if they are collaborating together. But everyone in the article looks as if they
would be instantly acceptable in the business world.
The spread celebrates such navy pinstripe suits as a uniform, something all three men wear to look the same.
The three men exhibit disciplined precision in their mode of dress.
The three look very satisfied, as if they are enjoying themselves.
Fall Tweeds. The same issue's article on Fall Tweeds is also stylish,
if a bit more casual (sports coats and ties).
It too is photographed by George Chinsee. One wonders if this pair of articles influenced the
later pair in GQ (September 1988): "The Power Look" and "GQ Predicts".
Both magazines have a main article about high-powered business suits, followed by
a look at tweed sport coats for more casual events.
The men in both articles look wholesome, cheerful and well-dressed in their sport coats.
But: I personally rarely recall adult American men in sport coats, in real life.
If real-life men want or need to get dressed up, they simply wear suits.
The men in "At "21": Clothes for Serious Business" are engaged in a clear context:
attending business meetings at 21. But it is unclear what the men in "Fall Tweeds" are doing.
They are in an abstract context, or lack of context. They do seem patrician and upscale.
The article is shot at Teddy Roosevelt's mansion Sagamore Hill, now a public museum.
Are these men the wealthy young heirs of Old Money, hanging around the family estate?
Or are these nice middle class visitors from Manhattan, showing the proper attire to visit a museum?
Or does the mansion simply symbolize refinement - something these young men have in abundance?
The first man photoed in "Fall Tweeds" is remarkably sharp, looking like a social ideal (page 123).
He is engulfed in an endless series of layered clothing. He reminds one of the similarly layered dancer
in the comic book tale "That Special Man" (Love Stories #152, October - November 1973).
Both men look self-absorbed, having a pleasant personal experience that shuts out the rest of the world:
the dancer has his eyes closed, the tweed-encased hero in M has his face turned down. Both have something
powerful and prestigious above, dominating them: the dancer is standing below glamorous, macho rock stars on stage,
the M hero is below the imposing decor of the mansion. Still the M hero seems to
have wealth and power, in a way the dancer does not.
Best Clothes in the Best Stores. "The Best Clothes in the Best Stores" (October 1988) is a large scale survey.
This includes jazzy double-breasted suits, a bit more avant-garde than the power look.
A good photo by Stephen Orlick shows an arrogant upper crust young man in an especially elegant, lustrous dark suit.
He's the coach of a pro football team, and two of his dejected players are trailing behind him.
Unlike the cutting-edge coach, they look traditionally masculine in their conventional football uniforms:
clearly those of the Chicago Bears.
They've either been defeated by another team, or chewed out by their coach, or both.
The coach's lustrous near-black suit echoes the shiny black jerseys of the football players.
The suit's enhanced shoulders echo the padded shoulders of the football uniforms.
Avant-garde features include the subtle stripes, the besom pockets and the precisely sculpted shape.
The shape looks "thought through": a result of careful planning.
An earlier pair of Orlick photos (pages 248, 249) show a man looking bulgingly muscular
in a pair of forcefully polished double-breasted light gray suits. All of the suits in these
Orlick photos are six-buttoned double-breasted, with large peaked lapels.
This was a fashion ideal in this period.
"The Best Clothes in the Best Stores" is shot in real-life locales, in the various cities
the stores are located. These locales are glamorous, and visually interesting in the photographs.
Such named, real-life backdrops also appeared in "At "21": Clothes for Serious Business" and
its Fall Tweeds sequel. They seem to be an M tradition. They were much less common in GQ.
Art Streiber has a good series, mainly showing men looking good in traditional single-breasted suits.
They were filmed at Seattle's "Museum of Flight". The phallic planes, the clean cut "leading man" type models,
and the conventional, simple suits convey a "traditional masculinity". Unlike many clothes of this period,
these do not convey a business or upper class perspective. They could be men of any social class,
dressed up for some occasion.
"The Best Clothes in the Best Stores" (October 1989) is a follow-up to the 1988 piece of the same title,
one year later. It too is shot on locations. Unfortunately, many of the clothes are sports wear, and not too interesting.
But there are some good suits.
A young man looks friendly and inviting, in a nearly-solid dark blue suit (page 163, the title page of the story).
This suit has at least two dimensions, One the one hand, the suit is a perfect example of
the late 1980's ideal business suit: dressy, double-breasted, peak-lapeled.
On another level, the double-breasted suit recalls a ship's officer's dress uniform.
With his dark blue suit and white dress shirt, the hero looks as if he is in spit and polish, regulation uniform.
Clothes that some organization of older, authoritative men has specified and required.
The hero is smiling and looks as if he really enjoys all this.
The "naval officer" effect is enhanced by the blue-painted metal wall
in front of which the hero is standing - it looks ship-like.
Blue is the traditional color of authority figures, which is why ships' officers wear it.
Photography: Art Streiber in Portland, Oregon.
Other men show up in perfect business suits of the era: pinstriped, double-breasted, peak-lapeled (pages 166, 168).
These have the corporate executive look, in a pure, outstanding form.
Stephen Orlick has a good portrait of a suited man outdoors in Chicago (page 166),
and two of a man in the colorful architecture of Chicago's Auditorium Theater (page 184).
The International Style. Also nice: "The International Style" (January 1989) (page 86),
showing Italian fashion, both high fashion suits and sports wear.
The double-breasted suits that run through the article are especially good.
Two of the best are from Ermenegildo Zegna (pages 100, 101).
These are both gray with peaked lapels and broad shoulders, in the 1980's upscale yuppie style.
The man on the left (page 100) is gazing sternly out at the viewer,
his hair perfectly styled in a serious executive cut. Both the suit and the haircut convey Power.
He looks like the viewer's demanding executive boss.
The Ermenegildo Zegna suit on the right (page 101) looks terrific too: perhaps the best in the article.
This double-breasted suit does not look like business wear, however. Instead, it evokes
a social event or important personal event, one that has the hero getting really dressed up.
Also excellent: a dressy Navy blue suit by Gianfranco Ferre (page 94). It's worn by an intelligent-looking young man.
He's photographed in an official site, the State Archives in Lucca, and looks like a government official.
He matches a portrait of a gorgeously uniformed Marchese above him.
This suggests his very dressy suit also has qualities of a uniform. It does evoke naval officers' uniforms.
This Authority Figure young man is holding a large official book in front of him as a phallic symbol.
The illusion of Authority is skillfully done.
The opposite page (page 95) shows three young men in different sports coats, also by Gianfranco Ferre.
The coats are deliberately loud, in contradiction to the dressy fashion trends of the 1980's.
One is even plaid (!!!). My favorite is the bright red check jacket.
These young men are wearing clothes that deliberately proclaim their non-business status.
And having fun doing so. The three are clearly visitors to the Archive, and having fun.
The contrast between the dressed-up government official and the three guys recalls rock star comic book tales.
The official is dressed up, in charge, and linked to uniforms and phallic symbols: like the rock stars.
The three young men are like the audience members in the rock tales.
Features add to the official's status of dominance over the young men:
- They are encased in dramatic, odd-looking clothes.
- The one in the red jacket has elaborately coiffed hair that is too long and too un-macho for business.
- The young men are visually focussed on a subject of interest.
The photo spread also includes sweaters. Tennis sweaters are typically white, like other tennis clothes.
This one (page 102) by Enrico Coveri defies convention by being jet black, with a bit of white trim.
- The official's photo is much bigger than the young men's.
- The official has lots of space in his photo, while the three men are crowded together.
- The captions praise the official's clothes as a standard or ideal ("Serious but not stuffy")
while more-or-less apologizing for the young men's clothes ("Why not a wild jacket?").
More Suits. "Bankers' Stripes on the Move" (February 1991) shows real Wall Street traders,
engaging in hip activities while wearing dressy pinstripe suits. One is riding a motorcycle.
Another wears in-line skates. Their activities are sweet; their clothes are swaggering.
Advertisements. The Christian Dior ad (October 1988) (page 83) features a very good gray pinstripe suit.
It is just the right color gray. It is perfectly shaped and fitted.
The model looks like British actor Ralph Fiennes, who would have been 25 at the time.
He looks intelligent and thoughtful - an image not harmed by his classy suit.
This ad is one of a series in the same magazine. An earlier sportswear ad (pages 74, 75) shows two men messing around.
One is up to mischief and has pulled a chair out from under the other.
But magically this man is floating in space. There are undertones and subtleties.
The fancy chairs match those in the Fiennes suit ad. The chairs run through the whole series of ads,
often in surrealistic ways. An ad for a blue velour work-out suit is outstanding (page 85).
The Aquascutum ad (November 1988) (page 79) shows an excellent gray suit. It looks simple: just a solid gray suit.
But it also looks utterly dressy. This ad too seems to show Ralph Fiennes. He looks really grownup and adult:
definitely not a juvenile. His suits suggest a responsible person with a serious job.
And yet someone with a sense of humor.
Law. The best of the early Hugo Boss ads shows the hero in a lavish, imposing law office, filled with legal books.
He's wearing a corporate very dark gray pinstripe suit. This ad appeared in GQ (October 1987).
This young man is shown posing in the style used by oil paintings of middle-aged corporate Vice Presidents: a neat touch.
It makes him look expert at business Power.
Photography: Bob Krieger.
This was part of a series, showing the hero in law offices, always in gray double-breasted business suits.
The suits convey the corporate "power look" of the era. Photo: Bob Krieger.
Fashion magazines showed such power imagery in double-breasted suits, often in pinstripes:
Barber Shop. A Hugo Boss ad photographed by Neil Kirk (M, November 1991) (page 75)
shows four men in a traditional barbershop, but dressed to the nines in contemporary suits.
The well-dressed hero comes across as incredibly arrogant - which in this context is a plus, not a minus.
All four men customers in the barbershop are in sharp gray suits. The similar suits make the men seem uniformed.
They are well-dressed in what successful young businessmen wear.
There is a sense of brotherhood. And of belonging. They are part of the world of business.
The hero's suit is of a kind that would have maximum prestige:
double-breasted, solid-toned, peak-lapeled, gray. He also wears really shiny business shoes.
The shoes, which seem to be made out of some special leather, have just a touch of gray to them.
They are conspicuously laced-up.
- "At "21": Clothes for Serious Business" (M, August 1987) appeared two months before this Boss ad.
- "The Power Look" (GQ, September 1988) debuted the next year.
The hero's earth-tones-gray-leather-and-chrome barber chair seems designed to put him on maximum display, from head to toe.
It is also loaded with precisely positioned phallic symbols. A control lever stands nearly straight up.
The phallic arm of the hero's chair is the same gray color tone as his suit. One wonders if it
has been color-adjusted for the photo. And if the erect arm's complex silver head has been added in:
it doesn't seem to be present in the next chair.
The chair is full of circular rivets, binding pieces together. These remind one of complex construction sites.
A fifth man is dressed very differently from the four business suited men. This is a barber.
He wears a white uniform jacket. He is in conventional gray trousers, and well-shined black leather shoes without laces.
He's been caught in a moment of personal service to the hero, brushing the hero off with a small whisk.
The ad has features in common with "rock star" comic book tales:
- The four men recall rock groups: uniformed, linked to phallic symbols; in lace-up clothes;
men operating as a group; calmly in control; socially prestigious.
- The barber is like the mesmerized men in the rock tales: in layered clothes;
focussed on one of the elite men; under control; alone.
Shine. A Hugo Boss ad shows the hero as one of a group of seated men getting his shoes shined.
The hero is staring right at the viewer, breaking the "fourth wall". He seems deeply satisfied.
This ad was likely conceived as one of a series with the "Barber Shop" Hugo Boss ad.
Both have features in common:
- A business place of personal care (shoe shine stand, barber shop).
- A place steeped in tradition.
- An elite group of young man patrons.
- The men are seated in special chairs, as part of the service.
- An attendant is giving the hero personal service.
- Shiny shoes.
- The hero is staring directly at the viewer.
Silver Bar. The Hugo Boss ad in M (January 1989) (page 29). Photo: Bob Krieger.
The hero is in a fancy double-breasted black tux in front of an even fancier chrome bar.
He seems to be awaiting a holiday party guest. A vase of red roses suggests a private romantic evening.
The lavish silver bar is full of silver rivets, suggesting construction work and power.
An upper region of the bar sticks out over a lower, also recalling construction work.
The top surface of the bar is a silver metal mirror.
Two barstools mix silver chrome and shiny dark gray leather seats.
This subtly echoes the prestige leather-and-chrome chairs have in the business world.
One stool is higher than the other, suggesting hierarchy.
Soon the the hero will be sitting higher than his guest, looking down on them.
It's behavior from the business world and its business manuals,
here sneakily carried over into apparent "romance".
Gray Tux. Another Hugo Boss ad photographed by Neil Kirk (M, December 1991) (page 65)
shows a group of men again. This time they are all wearing tuxedos.
The tuxedos seem to be a dressy very dark gray, rather than black.
As in earlier photo, the gray conveys a prestigious image in this period. It suggests business success.
The hero's tux has gigantic peaked satin lapels. Peaked lapels were also a prestige feature of business suits.
On this tux the lapels are made out of acres of shiny gray satin.
Even in their tuxes, these men are conveying a business suit image.
However these Boss tuxes are not that great, considered purely as clothes.
While I sometimes like Hugo Boss ads of the period, their actual suits were far from the best of their era, either.
The suit manufacturer Kuppenheimer put out a brochure (Spring '93).
The clothes are very much the kind seen in GQ and M, serious dark gray business suits, full of glamour.
The cover shows a handsome young man done up as a successful businessman of the era. He has on a gray pinstripe suit.
He sits in a black leather and silver chrome desk chair with a padded leather back. And holds a phallic shiny black phone.
He's grinning with delight. It's an image of happiness.
Another photo shows two men at a glass-topped business desk. This echoes the photo spread "Desk Set" (GQ, March 1988).
Both the GQ and Kuppenheimer desks or tables are a long piece of glass supported by a single mid-section long bar.
Both photos show men writing in an engagement-calendar-style notebook. The Kuppenheimer man is making handwritten notes,
while the "Desk Set" man was concentrating on "state diagrams" used by analysts. Both look expert.
One of the men in the Kuppenheimer photo has a glossy black phone. This has a stylish keypad with bright white letters.
Phones in that era were seen as symbols of power, and as phallic symbols.
As in the Kuppenheimer photos, shiny black phones were linked to well-dressed businessmen. See:
An interior illustration shows the pinstripe-suited young man from the cover, holding a phallic pool cue.
A somewhat older man, clearly an authority figure, looks on him approvingly.
The young man's suit is single-breasted, the handsome authority figure's suit is an even dressier double-breasted.
Both are pinstriped. Both men are smiling and very happy.
Fashion images like this, showing a group of elite men dressed to the nines, playing pool, were standard.
See the tuxedo clad men in the "Polo University Club" ad: GQ (September 1988) (page 200).
- The shiny black plastic phones on the 1990's TV show CNN Sports Tonight.
The sportscasters were exceptionally well-dressed, in good suits.
- The business-suited man holding his black phone, on the cover of the comic book Young Love #79 (1970).
- The good-looking young businessman, handcuffed to his office phone, on the cover of
the magazine Esquire (February 1986). The handcuffs are gold-plated and shiny, literalizing
the business phrase "golden handcuff". The story is titled "The Power of the Office",
invoking the business manuals of the era.
This Kuppenheimer brochure is clearly designed to look as much as possible
like an issue of M, or especially GQ.
An ad for Baumler shows a serious, good-looking man in an archetypal good business suit of the era.
It is just the right shade of dark gray, with just the right finish on the wool cloth surface,
pinstriped, and with large peaked lapels.
He's wearing a dressy white shirt with a subtle pattern, and a glossy serious tie.
The whole effect is of a serious businessman.
WIth touches of the authority figure and an executive in a command position.
He's seated in a silver car and holding a silver phallic-symbol computer device. The model is perhaps Greg Carswell.
Carswell also appeared in a 1991 ad for Baumler, seated on a desk, wearing a sports coat and
carrying a rolled-up newspaper with the word "Financial" at its top. A gold desk drawer handle is also phallic.
Greg Carswell appeared in magazine ads for the Italian suit maker Canali (1989-1990), photographed by Bob Krieger.
These suits are dressy, but considerably less pure American-businessman in style. The suits are luxurious, opulent and spectacular.
They are mainly double-breasted, and solid in rich colors. There is also a vested suit, worn with a watch chain.
Earlier model Rick Rider appeared in a pinstriped suit for Canali, photographed by Gaetano Besana (1984).
The suit is almost caramel-colored, conspicuously striped, and downright loud. But it looks fun to wear.
Like many Canali suits, it is double-breasted with peaked lapels, and very well cut.
The lapels, pockets and other lines of the suit have a knife-like sharpness. They look aggressive.
The suit looks like "I'm a businessman, and having fun wearing this unusual suit.
But I'm still as aggressive as hell."
Soap opera star David Fumero wore a full corporate look for a magazine photo.
This included a very dressy dark gray, almost black, pinstripe suit from Louis of Boston,
a white dress shirt and black-and-silver striped tie. This "power look" is remote from
his typical jazzy-young-man gear of leather jackets and pants. But he looks very good in it.
His hair is shorter than he usually wears it, and styled in a businessman's cut.
He is glaring seriously at something off-camera.
In recent years Fumero played a well-dressed villain on the TV series Power.
His pinstripe suit was especially good.
David Fumero modeled a shiny black fabric that looks much like leather for the Jean Claude Jitrois brand (1998).
He and the other models wore both black shiny pants and elaborately sculpted motorcycle jackets.
Fumero's jacket has huge horizontal zippered slash pockets across his chest.
There is nothing in the silver-zippered pockets - they are empty except for more of the black leather-look fabric.
The jacket sleeves are especially shiny and striking looking. They are bulky in the upper arms,
suggesting big muscles, and much narrower in the forearms.
A more recent example of Jitrois wear.
It's like what the college fraternity Vice-President or well-dressed yuppie wears.
Fumero was also photographed in a shiny red motorcycle jacket, and red pants.
The Men's Club. Esquire magazine had its high point for depicting good business suits,
in the spread "The Men's Club" (March 1 1983). Writer: Vincent Boucher. Photography: Fabrizio Gianni.
The five businessmen are all dressed in sharp gray suits, white dress shirts and gray ties.
Each suit is in a different version of gray, as are their ties.
The effect is of maximum variety, within very strict limits of what looks best in business
(gray suits and white dress shirts, well-shined black shoes). These men are uniformed.
The gray suits suggest a power image for men.
The men are seen full-figure, emphasizing they are in suits, with matching jackets and trousers.
The men share iconography with portraits of rock stars:
There is the mix of shiny silver chrome (the water cooler stand) and black leather, that is prestigious in the business world.
The man's belt also mixes the silver buckle with the black leather of the belt.
- Well-coifed hair.
- An elevated position.
- The men operate as a group.
- The men are calm and collected, and have clearly devoted much time to planning their appearance and behavior.
- Black leather: a man's belt, the men's shiny shoes.
- Phallic symbols: the water cooler, an orchid with a stick standing up out of its pot, a water pistol about to be fired.
Daytime soap operas were full of men in good suits, in this era.
The magazine Soap Opera Update (December 1, 1992) ran the results of a Reader's Poll.
The character Lawrence Alamain (played by actor Michael Sabatino) was voted the best-dressed man on the soaps.
A photo (page 53) shows him in one of the good gray double-breasted suits of the era, complete with peaked lapels.
The same issue shows actor Jim Storm dressed up to the nines in a navy blue suit and red tie (page 6):
also a standard of the period.
BMW: N Street. The BMW ad in the fashion magazine M (July 1988) (pages 16-19).
The ad is titled "N STREET", referring to the setting in the elite Washington D.C. district Georgetown.
It shows men in white tie and tails arriving outside a house, to a fancy party.
The many men in tails are pleased to be part of an elite group.
The last pair of pages (18-19) include an older macho man in front,
and a wistful patrician younger man in the house doorway.
A phallic lamppost is near the macho man, and a phallic chandelier is above the young man.
A man inside seen through a window is also near a phallic lamp.
All of these and other men are perfectly uniformed in white tie and tails.
ROCK STARS. These men in white tie have aspects that recall rock stars and athletes in comic books:
complex spectacular uniforms, operating as a group, performing in an elevated area (the high steps of the house),
phallic symbols, systematic advance planning, calm self control, and pleasure.
And like the rock stars, they are dominant over men below, who are garbed in awkward or tight clothes:
The men below are under the control of the men in tails above: also like the rock star stories.
Each man below has to experience the result of that control as an individual,
while the men in white tie function smoothly as a group: also like the rock stars.
- A tough-looking man in a chauffeur uniform, who has to stand in attendance outside by his car during the rain.
- A uniformed parking valet bent deferentially over a guest's car, while his uniform cap is pulled down over his eyes.
The chauffeur and valet are photographed from above - the camera is looking down on them.
This makes them looks subservient and disciplined. By contrast, the camera is positioned to look up
to the men in white tie and tails - even when the men are standing on the street.
The makes the men in tails look dominating. And big.
A similar approach is often used in rock star tales, like "That Special Man".
(This goes far beyond these tales. Photographing heroes from below is common practice in US film and television.)
HIERARCHY. These men below are likely employees of the men in white tie and tails.
So the ad is also a celebration of business hierarchy and the Chain of Command.
The men in white tie are business "superiors" (bosses, executives);
the men in the chauffeur and valet uniforms are their business "inferiors" (employees).
"Superiors" and "inferiors" are terms much used by business manuals of the period.
These manuals are definitely, enthusiastically on the side of the superiors. So is this ad - at least in part.
The ad evokes the celebration of superiors' opportunities, skill and power found in the era's business manuals.
The ad is one of the most opulent and visually clever celebrations of superiors' power in the period.
However, everyone in the ad is groping their way to fulfillment, in complex ways.
Not just the superiors, but the inferiors too.
Presumably the superiors, the bosses in white tie, ordered their inferiors to wear these chauffeur and valet uniforms.
The uniforms are especially sharp. They likely trigger cravings in viewers to wear such uniforms themselves.
The men is white tie are likely Government movers and shakers: they are attending a gathering on N Street.
So they embody both business power and Government power. This anticipates the classic GQ feature
"The Power Look" (September 1988), and its celebration of "the executive branches". That could refer to
business executives, or the President's executive branch of government. So these articles' men
represent Power at its maximum. Like the business manuals, these articles celebrate
these superiors' power, skill and opportunities with unlimited gusto.
BMW: Santa Barbara. The BMW ad in M (February 1989) (pages 6-7).
The ad is titled "The Santa Barbara Racquet and Polo Club".
This series of BMW ads have titles naming the upscale areas where they are set.
We see one of the polo players, a handsome man maybe in his late thirties, sitting just outside the stables.
He is grinning in total delight. The photography emphasizes uniform leather gear he wears.
He has big brown leather boots, tall and smooth. Just above them,
complex leather straps fasten leather knee protectors to him.
This is all for safety and the good of the game.
As a polo player and an apparent Santa Barbara (home for the elite rich) resident, this man is perhaps very rich.
Or perhaps he is just taking part in the game - say an office worker
from a middle class suburb who's been recruited because he can ride.
He looks like a friendly, nice guy next door type, genuinely likable. He seems more middle class than rich.
But comparing him to "N Street", he actually more resembles one of
the dominated men below in that ad, such as the chauffeur or valet parker.
And the dominated men below in the rock star tales:
This man looks exceptionably happy. Whatever is being done to him, he thoroughly enjoys it.
- His clothes are tight and awkward, something within which he is encased.
He is tightly strapped within leather devices.
A leather saddle with metal stirrups is seen on a fence in the background.
- He is all by himself, not part of a group of men like the white tie crowd in "N Street", or a rock group.
- His uniform shirt has three giant number "2"s all over it, on the chest and both sleeves.
2 is a real polo number. But it is also the traditional marking of a subordinate.
A throughly disciplined Yes Man, someone content to follow orders, is often called a "No. 2".
The ad creators could have easily made him No. 1, or some other Man in Charge number, had they wanted.
- He is at ground level, and even lower, because he is sitting in a low canvas chair.
- He is photographed with the camera looking down on him, like the chauffeur and valet.
Like them, this makes him look subservient and disciplined.
- Both as a No. 2 and an isolated man, he is not taking part in the decision making of an elite group.
Instead, decisions are likely made by men in charge without his participation. Then dictated to him.
- He is good looking, but far from highly muscled or spectacularly built.
- The only other man in the ad is a stable hand in the background - also a profession that suggests a dominated man.
- As the ultimate indignity, he's being rejected by a dog, who's moving out of the picture, at lower right.
- His appearance is asymmetric. We see only one boot, the other being obscured behind equipment.
He wears just one glove.
The 2 on his chest is way over to one side, rather than being centered like most sports numbers.
Even the 2's on his sleeves might not be perfectly aligned: one 2 looks a bit higher than the other.
He might be set up to convey this asymmetric appearance, to look less macho.
However, some real-life polo uniforms have numbers to one side.
- The red color of the 2's has a touch of pink. The uniform polo cap is the same pink-tinged-red color.
These look less than elite, and more subservient.
One wonders if this jersey and cap is a "real" polo uniform, or whether its was custom created for this ad.
The 2's, the asymmetry, and the pinkish color all set up this likable man as subservient.
On some Internet scans of this ad, it is hard to see the chest 2 on the hero's uniform.
Maybe the 2 is not there at all.
BMW: Ocala. The BMW ad in M (October 1988) (pages 16-17).
The ad is titled "Ocala". It shows many men at an outdoor horse show.
all clad in elegant tuxedos, mainly jet black. The tuxedos make them look like virile, successful businessmen.
Two guys in the upper left corner are staring into the camera, with big smiles.
There are no women near them, but they are all smiles. The right-hand man is especially good-looking.
Many of the eleven tuxedo-clad men in the photo are looking at the horses, or other men, rather than their girlfriends.
White Tie and Tails
Esquire Fashions for Men (1966) is a how-to book explaining how men's clothes work, and how to dress.
The cover calls it an "illustrated handbook" "on every aspect of fashion".
It has good illustrated explanations of formal wear, both tuxedos and "white tie and tails".
The book is credited to John Berendt and the Editors of Esquire Magazine.
Berendt was a long-time editor and writer at Esquire.
Book Covers. Book cover illustrations:
Music. There are many photos of classical musicians in white tie and tails.
Musicians perform in formal clothes. For them, tails are action wear:
- The illustration on the book cover of Raffles Revisited (1974) shows the hero in tails.
The focus is on his really gigantic, tall top hat. It is impressively shiny and precisely curved. Art: Richard Rosenblum.
- The 1983 US Paperback of The Last Houseparty. The entire tailcoat is shiny and gleaming. Art: Robert Crawford.
- The 1986 paperback of Magic Flutes. Art: John Ennis.
- The 1950's Dell paperback of Murder Leaves a Ring shows a man of distinction all dressed up in white tie and tails.
Art: James Meese.
- The 1968 paperback of Fire, Burn!. We see the hero from the side, with cane and giant top hat.
- The 2002 audiobook of The Bat shows two men in tails.
- The 2017 Librivox audiobook of Adventures of the Infallible Godahl shows its hero in tails.
Mysteries. Prose mystery novels sometimes had their detective heroes in tails.
(These were not pictured, but described in words.):
White tie is also worn by men other than detectives in prose crime fiction:
- Album: Leonard Bernstein, Beethoven Symphony No. 5 (1963?).
- Album: Leonard Bernstein, Beethoven Symphony No. 7.
- Album: Leonard Bernstein, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris (1967?).
- Album: Barry Douglas, Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 (1986). Front and back covers.
The shiny black rod propping open Douglas' piano serves as a phallic symbol.
- Violinist Svetlin Roussev is in white tie and tails for his solo in "Variations for Orchestra"
by Arnold Schoenberg. So are other musicians (2009). Video.
Roussev is shown tuning his violin at the start.
- Conductor Daniel Parkinson, with the Overture to "Wonderful Town" by Leonard Bernstein.
Parkinson's tails have a festive, bandleader-like feel.
In prose mystery fiction, white tie and tails seems especially common in 1928-1950.
- Good Guy Sir Justin O'Byrne in "The Great Ruby Robbery" (1892) by Grant Allen.
- The crook known as the Best Dressed Man in A Bid for Fortune (1895) by Guy N. Boothby.
- The elegant Parisian mobsters in The Lost Ambassador (1910) by E. Phillips Oppenheim.
- The sophisticated crooks who wear masks and white tie and tails in "A Trick of Memory" (1921) by
- The young American in "heightened" American white tie and tails in Mixed Relations (1929) by
Victor L. Whitechurch.
- The crooks infiltrating an upper crust party in The Ticker-Tape Murder (1930) by
Milton M. Propper.
- The slick crook masquerading as an upper class man in "The Scarlet Ace" (1933) by Theodore Tinsley.
- The boyfriend in "Double Trouble" (1936) by Richard Sale.
- Charles Hartshorn, upper crust young man-about-town, is an expert on white tie and tails in
The Last Express (1937) by Baynard Kendrick.
- The men at London debutante parties in Death in a White Tie (1938) by Ngaio Marsh.
- The nightclub owner's bodyguard in The Four of Hearts (1938) (Chapter 3) by Ellery Queen.
- The nightclub denizens in The Murder That Had Everything (1939) (Chapter 7),
the handsome con man in The House with the Blue Door (1942) (Chapter 1) by Hulbert Footner.
- Star nightclub dancer Lee Kenyon in If the Shroud Fits (1941) (Chapter 10) by
- Wealthy suspect Larry Shepard in "Episode of the Wandering Knife" (1943) by Mary Roberts Rinehart.
- Upper crust New Yorker Stuyvesant Winslow in The Deed Is Drawn (1949) by
Willetta Ann Barber and R.F. Schabelitz.
This illustrated mystery shows Stuyvesant Winslow in his tails.
- The man on the paperback cover of Murder Leaves a Ring (1950) by Fay Grissom Stanley.
- The victim and the father in Dead Drunk (1953), Gordon Hobbes in Two in the Bush (1976) by
- Men in Who's Calling? (1942), Minotaur Country (1975) by Helen McCloy.
Magazines. Print magazine photos of white tie and tails:
Print magazine illustrations of white tie and tails:
- An article "Evening Glory" in GQ (December 1980). Photo: Arthur Elgort.
- The Gianni Versace ad in GQ (1987). Photo: Barry McKinley.
A romantic young man in white tie holds a rose. He's standing in front of a bookcase.
- The BMW ad in the fashion magazine M (July 1988) (pages 16-19).
Please see my discussion elsewhere in this article.
- The Polo ad in M (November 1988) (page 3). A really elegant young man sitting on a fancy couch.
He looks aristocratic.
- The Canali ad (1989) with model Greg Carswelll in tails. Photo: Bob Krieger.
A dark gray topcoat with giant peaked lapels worn over the tails, makes it hard to see the outfit.
He's holding white gloves in his hand, in a proper gesture associated with wearing tails.
- A "Gentlemen Prefer Hanes" ad (1980) with an Embassy-ball style party. Most of the men are in white tie.
One foreign-looking dignitary is in a fancy dress uniform instead. The scene hints at the Cinderella legend.
- See also the cover photo of a paperback (October 1979) of James M. Cain's Love's Lovely Counterfeit.
It shows a confident, self-satisfied macho man in a set of vintage white tie and tails.
Photo by Ron Tunison. (Tunison also did the cover photo of the paperback (October 1979) of Cain's The Butterfly,
with a young man in a sharp vintage pinstripe suit.)
- A Cadillac ad, showing a powerful, elegant forty-ish man in tails. Sports Illustrated (February 10, 1969).
He's leaning on a balustrade at the top of a staircase. He's in an incredibly elegant, palatial building,
gleaming in white and gold. It has huge pillars. The photo is remarkably dream-like.
- A dreamy young man in perfect tails is gently kissing the heroine, on the cover of
Street and Smith's Love Story Magazine (July 15, 1933). Art: Modest Stein.
- A young man wears tails with a giant shiny black top hat, on the cover of Collier's Weekly (April 4, 1936).
- During the Depression the mystery "pulp magazine" Double Detective liked to put men in tails on their cover.
The first issue had a man in ultra-shiny giant top hat, evening coat, white gloves and scarf, and a black domino mask (November 1937).
He's one of those men who combine a mask with the height of men's fashion.
There are suggestions he might have a perfect build, too.
Men in full tails then appeared (March 1938), (March 1940).
See also the glamorously uniformed cops (May 1939), (January 1940).
- Young Sinners (John G. Blystone, 1931).
- The Skulls (Rob Cohen, 2000) has elite young men wear tails at their "secret society".
Comic Books. Golden Age comic books regularly featured their heroes dressed up in
white tie and tails. Often times, they were dancing in night clubs:
Later, during the Silver Age, white tie showed up in Lois Lane (1958-1967) and the Flash (1963-1965).
- During the 1930's, the many sleuth heroes in Detective Comics appeared once-or-twice in tails (not in every issue).
- In the 1940's, so did such masters-of-disguise detectives as the King and the Chameleon.
- Costumed crime-fighters without super powers such as the Firebrand
and the Sandman also wore them in 1941.
- A few super-heroes of the early 1940's also wore them while in their
secret identities, including the Flash, Starman, Dr. Fate and Green Lantern.
What follows is a checklist of comic book stories featuring white tie and tails.
Larry Steele, Private Eye
- 9 (November 1937) Case of the Hobo Hero
- 10 (December 1937) The Nick Orsati Case (Part 1)
Cosmo, The Phantom of Disguise
- 13 (March 1938) At Sea
- 20 (October 1938) The Magician
- 81 (November 1943) The Case of the Deceased Ham
- 85 (March 1944) The Perfumed Diamonds
- 132 (February 1948) Society Plumbers
Steve Malone, District Attorney
- 17 (July 1938) Von Ruyter's Explosive Gun
- 26 (April 1939) The Van Dorn Murder Case
29 (July 1939) Colonel Walsh and the Coastal Defense Plans
Mystery Thriller of the Month
- 11 (December 1939 - January 1940) The Pixie Panto Problem
Blue Ribbon Comics
- 3 (January 1940) Stuart Logan (Society detective Logan and guests at a fancy party. Well drawn.)
- 3 (March 1940) The Terror of the Underworld
- 5 (May 1940) Get the King; Cover
- 4 (Fall 1943) A Pair of Kings
- 7 (Vol. 1 #7) (August 1940) The Kohinoor Diamond
- 11 (Vol. 1 #11) (December 1940) The Mysterious Miss De Laise
- 12 (Vol. 1 #12) (January 1941) The Rescue of Robert Gray
- 1 (August 1941) Introducing the Firebrand
World's Finest Comics
- 51 (June 1940) The Van Leew Emeralds
- 3 (Fall 1941) Crime Visits the Opera
The Crimson Avenger
- 4 (April 1940) The Stolen Message
World's Finest Comics
- 2 (Summer 1941) Lee Travis, publisher of the Globe-Leader also plays a role
- 75 (May 1943) The Robber Baron (criminal in white tie)
- 59 (January 1944) Inspector Dayton! Lansing, the notorious killer will be
Mr. District Attorney
- 10 (June-July 1949) The Gay Masquerader (fake Marquis in uniform, Society party in white tie)
Mr. District Attorney
- 7 (January-February 1949) The Case of the Vanishing Crook (magician)
- 8 (March-April 1949) Ribbon of Honor (fake Marquis)
- 17 (September-October 1950) The Case of the Double Killing (magician)
- 25 (January-February 1952) The Case of the Plundered Pearls (opera opening night)
The Flash - the Golden Age Hero
- 4 (April 1940) The Gambling Ship
The Flash - the Silver Age Hero
- 1 (Winter 1942) Crime's Birthday Party (Party guests)
- 2 (Spring 1943) The City on Wheels
- 4 (Fall 1943) Winky Turns Wrestler (The Flash and athlete friend)
- 136 (May 1963) The Mirror Master's Invincible Bodyguards
Blue Bolt Comics
- 7 (Vol. 1, #7) (December 1940) The Murder of Bert Hart
- 61 (April 1941) The Amazing Starman
- 65 (August 1941) The Mystery of the Undersea Terror
More Fun Comics
The Human Bomb
- 69 (July 1941) The Shadow Killers
- 76 (February 1942) The King of Crime
- 86 (December 1942) The Man Who Wanted No Medals
The Shining Knight
- 5 (December 1941) The Phony Murder of Col. Stanford
Green Lantern - the Golden Age Hero
- 73 (April 1942) The Golden Quest
- 2 (Spring 1943) Handsome John Riley
- 97 (May 1955) The Amazing Mr. Memory (memory expert performs in tails)
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- 6 (July-August 1955) The King of Magic (magicians)
- 40 (October 1959) The Invisible Life of Jimmy Olsen (magicians)
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane
- 4 (September-October 1958) The Super-Courtship of Lois Lane (Superman in tails)
- 16 (April 1960) The Mystery of Skull Island (party guests)
- 40 (April 1963) Lois Lane, Foreign Correspondent (embassy party guests)
- 43 (August 1963) The Girl Who Mourned for Superman (UN diplomat party guests)
- 76 (August 1967) The Demon in the Bottle (special tails costume for Superman)
Science Fiction Comics
Stuart Taylor, time traveler
- 60 (February 1944) Through the ages men grit their teeth...and
Mystery in Space
- 61 (March 1944) The Rise of John Roman
Mystery in Space
- 18 (February-March 1954) The Chain Gang of Space (political leaders at final celebration)
- 65 (February 1956) War of the Mind Readers
- 163 (April 1964) The Creature in the Black Light (symphony orchestra)
A Date With Judy
A Date With Judy
- 7 (October-November 1948) Cover (Movie star on poster)
Girls' Love Stories
- 4 (June 1950) Fool's Paradise
- 16 (March-April 1952) Wake Up and Dream (hero at first night of play)
- 24 (July-August 1953) Cover
- 126 (April 1967) Cover; Too Late to Change Your Mind (bridegroom)
- 74 (October-November 1954) Cover
Variations in Formal Wear
Blue Bolt Comics
- 11 (Vol. 1, #11) (April 1941) Return to the Outer World (blue coat and vest with white tie)
- 3 (January-February 1948) Cover (White tie and vest, peaked lapels on coat, but worn with gray cutaway and striped trousers)
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
Green Lantern - the Silver Age Hero
- 21 (June 1957) The Wedding of Jimmy Olsen (cover: white tie with cutaway as wedding costume)
- 14 (July 1962) My Brother, Green Lantern (white tie worn with tuxedo-like coat)
- 150 (February 1965) Captain Cold's Polar Peril (black tie and tail coat)
Magazines. Print magazine photos of tuxedos (which usually appear around the winter Holidays):
- The fashion spread "Formal Yves" in GQ (December 1988) (pages 251-265), photographed by Matthew Rolston.
These tuxedos recall prestige business suits. They make their wearers look successful and powerful.
- The Canali ad (1988) with model Randall Paul in a jet-black elegant sleek tuxedo with a shiny shawl collar. Photo: Bob Krieger.
A related ad has Randall Paul wearing a luxurious long black evening coat over his tuxedo, and gray gloves.
Both the tuxedo and the coat show originality in their design.
- The Canali ad in GQ (December 1983) with two men, one in a white tux, the other in a patterned black tux with shiny peaked lapels.
It's a good image of buddyhood.
- "Palmy Days" is a Florida-based fashion spread in GQ (May 1989).
Model Grant Caradine is in a white tux, in Key West, Florida. Photo: Fabrizio Gianni.
- "Ocala" is a BMW ad in M (October 1988) (pages 16-17).
Please see my discussion elsewhere in this article.
- "Black Tie Requested" in GQ (December 1986) (page 194), photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.
The premise of this fashion shoot is a "private formal party" in the Hamptons modeled on the party in The Great Gatsby.
The invitees are assertive businessmen who want to show off.
- The Gingiss Formalwear ad "Play Clothes for Big Boys" in GQ (July 1991) (page 50).
The smirking, confident Bad Boy does indeed look great in his dapper tux.
- The Greif Companies ad in the fashion magazine M (November 1991) (page 78).
- Givenchy (page 53), Pierre Cardin (pages 56, 57) and Hugo Boss (page 65) have ads in M (December 1991),
(The same issue promoted a fashion trend that looked good, but never took off: bright blue sport coats worn with white trousers.
See ads by Mizani Uomo (page 16), Gieves & Hawkes (page 82). These had nothing to do with tuxedos.)
- A More ad (1982) showing an All-American hero in a classic tux, styled like a good business suit.
It's hard to see, but the tuxedo might be double-breasted, giving it a festive, dressy and Mod look.
His large rounded shiny black patent leather shoes are especially good. He's escorting a woman playing hopscotch.
- A Gordon's Gin ad (1957) shows a tuxedo-clad man who has just taken off a black mask.
He's standing near a huge pillar. "Most popular at any party" is the caption.
- A Gordon's Gin ad (1973) shows a seated tuxedo-clad man holding a Gordon's umbrella.
It's part of a series "How the English keep dry." The man looks a bit like actor Hugh O'Brian.
- Seagram's Gin had at least four ads showing tuxedo-clad men (1978). The men look confident and towering.
The traditional black tuxedos have business-suit like features such as vests, cuff links and peaked lapels.
The men look like successful, well-dressed businessmen in them.
While the lapels are often big, they are not especially shiny: this too gives them a business-suit look.
Their businessman image is enhanced by their perfect, well-groomed businessman haircuts.
And by the expensive black leather furniture in two of the ads: it recalls the
offices of business power players.
However, all the men's tuxedos have swaggering giant black bow ties. The ads:
All of these men look dominating.
- "Crystal Martini" shows the hero in a tux with huge peaked lapels.
- "Perfect Martini" shows the hero leaning over a shiny black leather couch.
- "Midnight Martini" showed the hero standing over a black leather chair.
- Actor Matt Bomer in a tux.
- Actor Ernie Townsend (real name Ernest Pysher),
is best known for playing good guy Cliff Nelson on the soap opera The Edge of Night.
He wore a spectacular outfit, a cross between a Western suit and a tuxedo, to a holiday party for that soap (December 1979?).
The suit is full of complex curving lines over its surface. It even comes with a matching bow tie.
The suit also has elaborate Western-style stitching all over its edges and seams; so does the bow tie.
He looks transgressive, talking with fellow actors John Driver and Bennett Cooperman,
who are in classic dressy business suits of the era, looking like millionaires.
The caption aptly calls this his "full cowboy regalia".
It has Mod features like a giant collar, giant bow tie, and conspicuous vest.
This photo might have appeared in the 4-1-1980 edition of Soap Opera Digest.
Townsend also stars as the Space Cowboy in the commercial "A Far Star Bar" (1984):
He wore a complex spaceman's uniform and a matching gray cowboy hat.
Many tuxedos of the 1986-1992 era are styled to look like business suits.
The men wearing them look like successful businessmen. The men look very dressed up.
Comic Books. Tuxedos seem more popular in the Silver Age of the 1950's and 1960's,
than they do in the Golden Age of the 1930's and 1940's. They are especially prevalent in
the Silver Age comic books featuring the Flash and Jimmy Olsen.
This is perhaps paradoxical: the Flash and Jimmy are relentlessly middle-class characters,
and definitely not part of a moneyed elite.
What follows is a checklist of comic book stories featuring tuxedos.
Larry Steele, Private Eye
- 13 (February 1937) Mad Knife-Killer Spreads Terror
- 5 (July 1937) Mystery of the Wholesale Kidnappings (Part 1)
- 23 (January 1939) The Corpse in the Car Trunk
Adventures in the Unknown
- 13 (March 1938) The Peter Rawley Case - anti-gambling
- 7 (October 1939) The Mystery Men of Mars, Part 7
More Fun Comics
- 52 (February 1940) The Spectre: Introduction
- 19 (September 1940) Into New York harbor steams the 'Beggars' Yacht
- 9 (September 1940) The Orphanage Benefit (Part 1)
- 10 (October 1940) The Orphanage Benefit (Part 2)
Blue Bolt Comics
- 6 (Vol. 1, #6) (November 1940) The Stealing of "Shining Star"
- 7 (Vol. 1, #7) (December 1940) The Murder of Bert Hart
- 12 (Vol. 1, #12) (May 1941) Attack on a Princess
- 87 (Vol. 8, #9) (February 1948) Returning east from Arizona for the Christmas holidays, Dick arrives
- 10 (Vol. 1 #10) (November 1940) Architect of Madness
- 12 (Vol. 1 #12) (January 1941) The Rescue of Robert Gray
- 17 (Vol. 2 #5) (July 1941) Washington, D. C. The Chameleon, master of disguise, is attending a conference of FBI officials
The Flash - the Golden Age Hero
- 4 (April 1940) The Stolen Message
Hawkman - Golden Age hero
- 4 (April 1940) The Gambling Ship
- 12 (December 1940) The Heart Patient
- 17 (May 1941) Murder at the Opera
Blue Ribbon Comics
- 8 (January 1941) The Fox Goes to a Nightclub
World's Finest Comics
- 3 (Fall 1941) Crime Visits the Opera
Star Spangled Comics
- 4 (January 1942) The Blade
Blue Bolt Comics
The Crimson Avenger
- 21 (Vol. 2, #9) (February 1942) It's 'shoot-the-works' when Sub-Zero and his pal, Freezum
World's Finest Comics
- 5 (Spring 1942) Crime's Stage Manager
- 65 (August 1941) The Mystery of the Undersea Terror
- 70 (January 1942) Adventure of the Ring of Hijackers
- 75 (June 1942) The Strange Case of the Luckless Liars
The Shining Knight
- 68 (November 1941) Death at the Opera
The Human Bomb
- 73 (April 1942) The Golden Quest
- 12 (October 1942) The Liebestraum Code
- 2 (Spring 1943) The Story Behind the Bellyache
The Green Lama
- 70 (December 1942) The Man Who Could Read Minds
- 85 (March 1944) The Joker's Double
- 92 (October 1944) Crime's Man-Hunt
- 95 (January 1945) The Blaze
- 329 (July 1964) Castle with Wall-to-Wall Danger
- 334 (December 1964) The Man Who Stole From Batman
- 5 (May 1945) The Four Freedoms
Blue Bolt Comics
- 58 (Vol. 6 No. 2) (August 1945) When a spoiled child of the smart set
- (Vol. 6, #1) (August 1946) Mr. Risk goes to a party uninvited
- 106 (July 1946) The Shipwrecked Romance
The Black Canary
- 105 (June 1946) Pennants of Plunder
- 107 (August 1946) Green Arrow, Junior
The Brave and the Bold
- 86 (August 1947) The Black Canary
- 61 (September 1965) Mastermind of Menaces
- 181 (October 1952) A Mask for a Hero
Roy Raymond TV Detective
- 154 (December 1949) Death in the Northwoods
- 193 (March 1953) Roy Raymond's Rival
- 202 (December 1953) The Dummy with a Mind of Its Own
These are mainly gambling dens. Not glamorous.
Mr. District Attorney
- 1 (December 1947 - January 1948) Hot Money
- 1 (December 1947 - January 1948) Crime on the Sea
- 4 (June-July 1948) The Lady and the Cop
- 10 (June-July 1949) The Gambler's Chance
- 11 (August-September 1949) The Man Who Lost His Face
- 15 (April-May 1950) You Sue 'Em - I Serve 'Em
- 15 (April-May 1950) The Four Sons of Crime
Mr. District Attorney
- 6 (November-December 1948) The Big Frame
- 7 (January-February 1949) Concerto in Murder
- 8 (March-April 1949) Fighting Editor versus the Underworld
- 11 (September-October 1949) The Game That Has No Winners
- 13 (January-February 1950) The Execution of Caesar Larsen
- 14 (March-April 1950) The Alibi King
- 17 (September-October 1950) The Bachelors of Crime
- 21 (May-June 1951) I Was a Killer's Bodyguard
- 22 (July-August 1951) The Revenge of Johnny Raadik
- 24 (November-December 1951) The Killer in the Iron Mask
- 25 (January-February 1952) The Case of the Plundered Pearls
- 9 (September 1951) Johnny Law vs Johnny Lawless
- 14 (March-April 1952) The Disappearing Diner
- 33 (May-June 1955) The Amazing Mr. Presto
- 36 (November-December 1955) The Mysterious Stranger of Mazda Lane
- 43 (January-February 1957) Beware the Man in Black
More Fun Comics
- 86 (December 1942) Race Around the World
Challengers of the Unknown
- 107 (August 1946) 'Ware Water
- 214 (July 1955) Station Neptune
A Date With Judy
- 6 (February 1957) The Secrets of the Sorcerer's Box
A Date With Judy
- 16 (April-May 1950) Cover
- 28 (April-May 1952) Cover
- 46 (April-May 1955) Cover
- 79 (October-November 1960) A Rented Car
- 111 (February-March 1960) Invasion of the Cloud Creatures
- 112 (April-May 1960) The Mystery of the Elongated Man
- 113 (June-July 1960) The Man Who Claimed Earth
- 121 (June 1961) The Trickster Strikes Back
- 133 (December 1962) The Plight of the Puppet-Flash
- 136 (May 1963) "Barry Allen--You're the Flash!--and I Can Prove It!"
- 138 (August 1963) The Pied Piper's Double Doom
- 140 (November 1963) The Heat Is On...For Captain Cold
- 146 (August 1964) Fatal Fingers of the Flash
- 170 (May 1967) The See-Nothing Spells of Abra Kadabra
Green Lantern - the Silver Age Hero
- 342 (August 1965) The Bandits and the Baroness
- 7 (July-August 1961) Wings of Destiny
- 23 (September 1963) The Threat of the Tattooed Man
- 44 (April 1966) Saga of the Millionaire Schemer
- 53 (June 1967) Two Green Lanterns in the Family
Superman and Supergirl
- 4 (December 1962 - January 1963) The Machine That Made "Miracles"
- 6 (April-May 1963) The Riddle of the Two-Faced Astronaut
- 11 (February-March 1964) Voyage to Beyond
- 245 (October 1958) The Shrinking Superman
- 281 (October 1961) The Man Who Saved Kal-El's Life
- 296 (January 1963) The Girl Who Was Supergirl's Double
- 312 (May 1964) The Fantastic Menace of the "LL's"
- 317 (October 1964) The Great Supergirl Double-Cross
- 318 (November 1964) Supergirl Goes to College
- 325 (June 1965) The Ugly Duckling Teacher of Stanhope College
- 326 (July 1965) The Secret of Supergirl's Suitor
- 336 (April 1966) The Forbidden Fortress of Solitude
World's Finest Comics
- 135 (February 1960) The Trio of Steel
- 156 (March 1966) The Federation of Bizarro Idiots
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane
- 3 (August 1958) The Man Who Was Clark Kent's Double
- 4 (September-October 1958) Lois Lane, Working Girl
- 11 (August 1959) Lois Lane's Super-Perfume
- 15 (February 1960) The Super-Family of Steel
- 26 (July 1961) The Day Superman Married Lana Lang
- 27 (August 1961) Lois Lane's Super-Brain
- 29 (November 1961) Lois Lane's Secret Identity
- 39 (February 1963) Lois Lane's Romance with Clark Kent
- 41 (May 1963) The Devil and Lois Lane
- 42 (July 1963) The Romance of Superbaby and Baby Lois
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- 2 (November-December 1954) Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Ex-Pal
- 6 (July-August 1955) The King of Magic
- 8 (October 1955) Jimmy Olsen, Crooner
- 9 (December 1955) The Million Dollar Question
- 11 (March 1956) T.N.T. Olsen, The Champ
- 23 (September 1957) The Bearded Boy
- 26 (February 1958) The World's "Heavy Weight" Champ
- 32 (October 1958) The Rock 'n' Roll Superman
- 32 (October 1958) The Jimmy Olsen from Jupiter
- 36 (April 1959) Lois Lane's Sister
- 40 (October 1959) The Invisible Life of Jimmy Olsen
- 44 (April 1960) The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- 44 (April 1960) Miss Jimmy Olsen
- 46 (July 1960) The Irresistible Jimmy Olsen
- 48 (October 1960) The Disguises of Danger
- 56 (October 1961) Jimmy Olsen's Sweethearts
- 69 (June 1963) Jimmy Olsen's Viking Sweetheart
- 56 (May-June 1965) Perils of the Psycho-Pirate
Science Fiction Comics
Especially good: the tuxedo-clad athlete groups in Strange Sports Stories,
such as "Danger on the Martian Links" and "Warrior of the Weightless World".
These have art by Carmine Infantino, who frequently drew tuxes in The Flash.
- 61 (March 1944) The Rise of John Roman
Strange Sports Stories
- 7 (April 1951) Hollywood: 3000 A. D.
- 8 (May 1951) Evolution Plus
- 34 (July 1953) The Star Oscar
- 41 (February 1954) Last Day on Earth
- 121 (October 1960) The Wand that Could Work Miracles
- 127 (April 1961) Battle of the Bouncing Bombs
The Brave and the Bold
- 46 (February-March 1963) Danger on the Martian Links
- 49 (August-September 1963) Warrior of the Weightless World
- 194 (April 1953) The Crime Collector
- 198 (August 1953) Robotman --- On the Loose!
Some of the best tuxedo depictions are in the comic book Love Stories, notably
"One Kiss Too Many" and "Puppet on a String". The men start out in good suits,
then move on to tuxedos for the climax of the tale.
The hero Gary Jackson of "One Kiss Too Many" is in a series of Mod suits.
All of these outfits are extremely spiffy.
Gary is always dressed up to the max. The suits are totally hip and Mod.
The hero later gets into a spectacular white tuxedo.
Earlier, he had appeared in a double-breasted white suit, with a huge pocket on the chest.
The patch pocket gives it a uniform feel. He looks like a Commanding Officer.
And in a blue business suit with a red tie that gives him a business Authority Figure look.
So he's covering all his bases. He wears this suit while dispensing some bad news over the phone.
This suggests he already knows all about business power techniques.
Gary Jackson is nearly the only person in the tale with a full name,
giving him presence and suggesting his erotic power.
Brides in Love
Falling in Love
- 32 (October 1962) The Wrong Choice?
- 32 (October 1962) Love Without Lies
Girls' Love Stories
- 9 (January - February 1957) A Love Like Ours
- 19 (June 1958) Cover
- 47 (December 1961) Cover
- 50 (May 1962) Cover
- 53 (September 1962) Cover
- 57 (February 1963) Cover
- 118 (October 1970) No Chance at Love
- 120 (January 1971) Hide My Past, My Heart
- 121 (February 1971) I Gave My Love Away
- 122 (April 1971) Too Old for Love
- 127 (December 1971) Cover
- 44 (November-December 1956) Cover
- 53 (March 1958) A Lesson in Love
- 54 (May 1958) Rival Heart
- 55 (June 1958) Love of My Dreams
- 73 (September 1960) Cover
- 76 (February 1961) Cover
- 91 (December 1962) Cover
- 100 (January 1964) Love Be My Guide, The Wrong Bride
- 128 (July 1967) Girl Loves Boy -- Boy Loves Girls
- 162 (October 1971) Cover
- 165 (January 1972) Cover
- 177 (April-May 1973) Last Love
- 179 (September-October 1973) Kisses to Forget
- 59 (April-May 1959) Cover
- 68 (October-November 1960) Cover
- 80 (October-November 1962) Cover
- 64 (July 1960) Cover, Something Borrowed -- Something Blue
- 66 (October 1960) Cover, Sad Song of Love
- 72 (July 1961) Cover, Hold Me Forever
- 90 (September 1963) Cover, Dream with Danny
- 92 (December 1963) Cover, Love -- Look the Other Way
- 101 (January 1965) Cover, Love Is Two Strangers
- 120 (June 1967) Cover
- 129 (July 1968) Cover
- 72 (January-February 1969) My Love Lie
- 90 (December 1971) Love on a Rooftop
Our Love Story
- 97 (December 1958-January 1959) Cover
- 144 (October-November 1966) Cover
- 150 (October-November 1967) Can Any Man Really Be Trusted?
- 172 (June-July 1971) Cover
- 179 (February 1972) Cover
- 181 (April 1972) The Shadow Between Us
- 16 (June 1972) The Boy Who Can't Be Mine
- 150 (June - July 1973) One Kiss Too Many
- 150 (June - July 1973) Enjoy Being Young
- 151 (August - September 1973) Don't Use Me
- 152 (October - November 1973) Puppet on a String
Daytime Formal Wear
Television. The episode A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (1967)
of the British TV series The Avengers. This has a memorable man in a cutaway coat (played by Drewe Henley).
This episode is also full of men in uniform. Wardrobe: Jean Fairlie.
Comic Books. Formal day wear (cutaway coats) is a distinctly different kind of apparel than tuxedos.
Cutaways are almost always the garb of men at weddings, in the romance comic books.
Tuxedos can be for weddings too, but they are most often shown at dances and parties rather than weddings.
There is no standard look for cutaways in the comics. They have widely varying approaches.
"The Wrong Bride" (1964) is especially good, with the cover showing its patrician hero looking arrogant
in a striped ascot tie and erect stiff collar.
He's linked to numerous phallic symbols, including the church rafters and beams, and two tall pointed windows.
Art: Jay Scott Pike. The image is repeated as the splash page.
"Take My Love to Heart" (1958) shows o macho man groom in a slick cutaway. Groom Tommy has to compete with
the heroine's old boyfriend Doug, who's shown up in a suit and tie. Art: John Romita.
A Date With Judy
A Date With Judy
- 38 (October-November 1953) Cover. This shows hero Oogie in a cutaway at his wedding.
Brides in Love
- 131 Superman's Future Wife (August 1959)
Falling in Love
- 32 (October 1962) Return to Love
- 32 (October 1962) Model Wife
- 32 (October 1962) Shameless Wife
Girls' Love Stories
- 38 (November 1960) Cover
- 96 (January 1968) Wake Up to Heartbreak
- 121 (February 1971) I Gave My Love Away
- 12 (July-August 1951) Cover
- 53 (March 1958) Cover, Take My Love to Heart
- 81 (September 1961) Cover
- 100 (January 1964) Cover, The Wrong Bride
- 166 (June-July 1970) Cover
- 101 (November 1972) Cover
Book Covers. Trenchcoats appear on book covers:
- The spy hero on the cover of the paperback novel The Counterfeit Courier (1961). Art: Bob Abbett.
- The cover of the old paperback novel Affair in Tokyo.
- The dust jacket of the British edition of Death Plays Solitaire. An overhead view shows both
a sharply uniformed cop, and a man in a trenchcoat. The epaulettes of the trenchcoat echo those on the police uniform.
- The paperback My Gun, Her Body (1952) Art: Robert Maguire.
- The well-dressed spy on the paperback cover W.I.L. One to Curtis (circa 1967).
He seems to have dropped his expensive black leather attache case over a fence, as part of an intrigue.
The iron fence is full of phallic arrows. Art: Victor Kalin. W.I.L. stands for Western Intelligent Liaison.
- A couple running dramatically down a rainy urban street. The man is in a sharp trench. Art: Victor Kalin.
- The British paperback of It's Raining Violence shows two well-dressed men in raincoats carrying
a man in a suit, during a thunderstorm. The coat of the man on the left has trench-like features:
a big turned-up collar, epaulettes, a huge buttoned-up front flap. The coat looks tight and form-fitting.
Television. Trenchcoats appear on television:
- The copper-colored trenchcoat worn by the hero of the TV series Dick Barton: Special Agent (1979).
It looks both macho and spectacular.
Comic Books. Trenchcoats are sometimes worn by comic book heroes.
I've included various fancy raincoats too, which strictly speaking might not actually be trenchcoats.
What follows is a checklist of comic book stories featuring trenchcoats.
Steve Malone, District Attorney
- 26 (April 1939) The Van Dorn Murder Case
The Black Canary
- 110 (November 1946) The Monster and the Mermaid
Private eye Larry Lance wears a trenchcoat over his pinstriped noir-era suits.
- 94 (April 1948) Corsage of Death
- 96 (June 1948) The Riddle of the Topaz Brooch
- 99 (September 1948) Time Runs Out
- 100 (October 1948) The Circle of Terror
- 101 (November 1948) The Day That Wouldn't End
- 104 (February 1949) Crime on her Hands
Mr. District Attorney
- 3 (February 1969) Special Delivery Death
Mr. District Attorney
- 2 (March-April 1948) Camera Cop (Police photographer wears trenchcoat on the job)
- 17 (September-October 1950) The State vs. Harrington (District Attorney on a rainy night)
- 11 (August-September 1949) The Man Who Lost His Face (Agent impersonates hoodlum)
- 16 (June-July 1950) The Riddle of Niagara
- 1 (July-August 1950) Hunters of the Whispering Gallery
Date with Danger
- 50 (May-June 1964) I -- Spy
Date with Danger
Roy Raymond TV Detective
- 5 (December 1952) The Betrayal (Diplomatic Courier in Paris wears one)
Mystery in Space
- 200 (October 1953) The Maker of Mental Giants (A cop wears a trenchcoat)
Mystery in Space
- 4 (October-November 1951) The End of the World
J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars
- 66 (March 1956) The Flying Raincoat
- 224 (November 1955) The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel
- 228 (September 1956) Clark Kent's Bodyguard
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- 4 (March-April 1955) King for a Day (A villainous foreign agent wears a trenchcocat.)
- 25 (December 1957) The Day There Was No Jimmy Olsen
(Jimmy wears trenchcoat as foreign correspondent in Paris at tale's end.)
- 48 (November-December 1957) The Dangerous Coat of Dan Brewster
(The hero borrows the snazzy trenchcoat of a foreign correspondent friend,
and immediately gets into trouble.)
- 133 (December 1962) The Plight of the Puppet-Flash (page 3)
(Hero Barry Allen wears it with hat and gloves.)
Mystery in Space
Strange Sports Stories
- 82 (March 1963) World War on Earth and Rann
The Brave and the Bold
- 45 (December 1962-January 1963) Goliath of the Gridiron (the transformed hero also gets an upgrade to a trenchcoat)
- 11 (May-June 1949) The Town and Toni Benson (The romantic hero gets dressed up in one at the finale)
Girls' Love Stories
- 39 (September - October 1963) No Cure for Love
(A young doctor wears a long dashing coat when not in his white medical uniform.
It's not a trenchcoat, but it has some of the same pizzazz.)
- 15 (January-February 1952) Cover (Hero in trenchcoat races to rescue heroine)
- 39 (January - February 1956) Cover
- 137 (August 1968) Cover, Not Good Enough for Me
- 158 (July 1971) Deception
- 122 (October-November 1969) Cover (The hero involved in espionage wears a trenchcoat in London.)
Costume Parties in Comic Books
Comic books sometimes featured costume parties.
Costume parties are highly visual. They are seemingly perfect for the medium of comics.
The Justice Society of America
- 19 (September 1940) Into New York harbor steams the 'Beggars' Yacht
- 57 (November 1943) A wealthy oil man calls his young secretary
Ed Wheelan's Humor Series
- 3 (Winter 1940) The First Meeting of the Justice Society of America (Hourman episode)
- 28 (April 1942) Masquerade Mystery
Stuart Taylor, time traveler
- 79 (September 1943) Two Tickets to Trouble
- 59 (January 1944) Stuart, Laura, and Doctor Hayward get ready for
Blue Bolt Comics
- 71 (Vol. 7, #5) (October 1946) Sully Meadows, a new cadet at Farr Military Academy
A Date With Judy
- 123 (December 1947) Villainy in Venice
A Date With Judy
- 4 (April-May 1948) Cover
- 17 (June-July 1950) Cover
- 62 (December 1957-January 1958) Cover
- 33 (May-June 1955) The Amazing Mr. Presto
- 108 (August-September 1959) The Origin of Johnny Thunder
- 67 (April 1956) The Martian Masquerader
- 16 (September-October 1958) The Secret of the Space Monster
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane
- 3 (August 1958) The Man Who Was Clark Kent's Double
- 22 (January 1961) Lois Lane's X-Ray Vision
- 27 (August 1961) Lois Lane's Super-Brain (science fiction costume party)
- 35 (August 1962) The Fantastic Wigs of Mr. Dupre
- 37 (November 1962) The Immortal Lois Lane
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- 37 (June 1959) The Jimmy Olsen Signal-Watch
- 44 (April 1960) The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- 59 (March 1962) Jimmy Olsen, Freak
- 127 (February 1959) The Make-Believe Superman
- 131 (August 1959) The Unknown Super-Deeds
- 138 (July 1960) Superman's Black Magic
- 178 (July 1965) When Superman Lost His Memory
World's Finest Comics
- 296 (January 1963) The Girl Who Was Supergirl's Double
- 8 (January-February 1954) Menace From the Stars
Green Lantern - the Silver Age Hero
- 126 (February 1962) Snare of the Headline Huntress
- 129 (June 1962) Double Danger on Earth
- 4 (January-February 1961) Secret of Green Lantern's Mask
- 22 (July 1963) Dual Masquerade of the Jordan Brothers
- 11 (February-March 1964) Voyage to Beyond
- 25 (June-July 1966) The Man in the Ion Mask
Girls' Love Stories
Falling in Love
- 11 (May-June 1951) Cover, Lonely Masquerade
- 40 (March-April 1956) Cover, Mask of Love
- 113 (February 1970) Please, Please, Don't Tell Him About Me!
World's Finest Comics
- 4 (Winter 1941) The Pageant of Plunder (Mardi Gras pageant with costumed participants)
More Fun Comics
- 77 (March 1942) Doom Over Gayland (gang costumed)
The Human Bomb
- 66 (August 1942) The Adventure of the Shooting Spooks (gang costumed)
- 13 (November 1942) The Living Dead of Skull Valley (gang costumed)
- 78 (August 1943) The Bond Wagon (volunteers in historical pageant about Revolutionary War)
Crime Must Pay the Penalty
Crime Must Pay the Penalty
- 20 (June 1951) Cover (Mardi Gras pageant with costumed participants)
Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
- 36 (April 1959) How Jimmy Olsen First Met Superman (Kryptonians in Earth costumes for pageant)
- 38 (July 1959) MC of the Midnight Scare Theater (Jimmy wears costume as TV host)
- 45 (June 1960) Tom Baker, Power Lad (Different fashion designers create costumes for the young super-hero)
- 45 (June 1960) The Animal Master of Metropolis (Jimmy and Daily Planet staff in marching band costumes)
- 61 (June 1962) Jimmy Olsen's Wildest Adventure (Jimmy lookalikes in odd costumes)
Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane
Superman and Supergirl
- 39 (February 1963) Lois Lane's Romance with Clark Kent (pirate costumes in restaurant)
- 41 (May 1963) The Devil and Lois Lane (disguises)
- 246 (November 1958) Krypton on Earth (Earth people in town imitating Krypton wear Krypton costumes)
- 292 (September 1962) The Super-Steed of Steel (students in historical pageant about Salem Witch Trials)
- 300 (May 1963) The Return of Super-Horse (Townspeople in Ancient Greek costumes for historical pageant)
- 301 (June 1963) The Day Super-Horse Went Wild (hero disguises as carnival fortune teller)
- 6 (April-May 1963) The Riddle of the Two-Faced Astronaut (A magician's assistant is costumed)
- 130 (August 1962) Who Doomed the Flash? (crook with many costumes)
- 141 (December 1963) The Mystery of Flash's Third Identity (where do villains get their costumes?)
- 7 (April-May 1965) Attack of the Crocodile-Men (not a party, but elaborate costumes worn by bad guys)
Men who get made over are a long time movie subject: maybe longer than most people realize.
Like many things in film, male makeovers go back at least to the 1910's:
a decade in which many film traditions were founded.
- From the Submerged (Theodore Wharton, 1912).
- L'Enfant de Paris / The Child of Paris (Léonce Perret, 1913).
- Don't Change Your Husband (Cecil B. De Mille, 1919).
- The Busher (Jerome Storm, 1919).
- Underworld (Josef von Sternberg, 1927).
- Spies (Fritz Lang, 1928).
- Union Depot (Alfred E. Green, 1931).
- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1933).
- Alexander Gray in the "Dusty Shoes" finale of Moonlight and Pretzels
(choreographer: Bobby Connolly, 1933).
- The World in His Arms (Raoul Walsh, 1952).
- The Conspirators (Leslie H. Martinson, 1957), an episode of Cheyenne.
- Game at the Beacon Club (Arthur Lubin, 1959), an episode of Bronco.
- Swan Song for an Ugly Duckling (Dennis Donnelly, 1978), an episode of Flying High.
- Grease 2 (Patricia Birch, 1982).
- The Heavenly Kid (Cary Medoway, 1985)
- Student Exchange (Mollie Miller, 1987).
- Daddy's Home (Howard Storm, 1987), an episode of Full House.
- Taking Care of Business (Arthur Hiller, 1990).
- Don't Tell Her It's Me (Malcolm Mowbray, 1990).
- California Casanova (Nathaniel Christian, 1991).
- Hero (Stephen Frears, 1992).
- Living on the Streets Can Be Murder (Christopher Hibler, 1996), an episode of Diagnosis Murder.
- The Prince and the Rebel (John L'Ecuyer, 2008), an episode of Murdoch Mysteries.
- Fixing Pete (Michael Grossman, 2011).
- The Makeover (John Gray, 2013).
See also the prose novel Powder and Patch (1923) by Georgette Heyer.
Taking Care of Business (Arthur Hiller)
Director Arthur Hiller is a veteran of the Golden Age of television in the 1950's.
His theatrical career has mixed serious drama with comedy, often
with a satirical edge. While his dramas tend to be rather less
than first rate, his comedies have included such artistic successes
as Teachers (1984) and Outrageous Fortune (1987).
In Taking Care of Business (1990) he's hit pay dirt again,
with a comedy that gets in some sharp jabs at the yuppie lifestyle and the business world.
Taking Care of Business benefits from the presence of John de Lancie.
Lancie is always associated with his role as Q in Star Trek.
But his performance in Taking Care of Business likely draws on another side of his career.
Lancie has an uncanny ability to embody upscale executives, finance whizzes and yuppies.
He can really look exceptionally well-dressed.
On the TV comedy series Trial and Error he played the hero's
formidably Establishment boss. He has a similar role in Taking Care of Business,
representing business upper crust.
While this film has "makeover" aspects, it is less purely a makeover-film
than are many others. The poor hero does indeed get to borrow one of many lavish business suits shown in a
upbeat scene. But his main "success" in the film is not attributed to new clothes,
but to the businessman's notebook he finds and uses.
The Boyfriend School / Don't Tell Her It's Me (Malcolm Mowbray)
Don't Tell Her It's Me is also known as The Boyfriend School,
which was the title of Sarah Bird's original novel (1989).
Bird wrote this film adaptation as well.
This sparkling romantic comedy also fell into critical oblivion,
despite a great cast and a very literate script. The characters
in this film are far more intellectual than those in many American
movies: three are professional writers, and the hero is a highbrow
cartoonist. With Shelley Long along as the deus ex machina of
the plot, convincing intellectuality reigns supreme, whether she
is discoursing on the evolution of the romance novel, or instructing
her tiny daughter on the consequences of eating electric cords.
Her character is always wonderfully articulate.
This sparkling character might be the best role Shelley Long has ever had.
The film benefits from the location filming in Charleston, South
Carolina. As filmed by cinematographer Reed Smutley (The Long
Hot Summer, Gleaming the Cube), a specialist in glowing,
sun-drenched, exterior scenes, Charleston's historic architecture
and summertime fertility casts a beautiful glow over the proceedings.
Even among today's virtuosic color cameramen, Smutley's work is
distinctive. His interiors are not bad either, with their bright
lighting and rich colors.
Fixing Pete (Michael Grossman)
Fixing Pete (2011) is a little comedy about a slob sportswriter
who gets a fashion do-over from the newspaper's style expert, a glamorous woman.
It has plenty of charm.
Both of the actors cast as slob men are playing against type and their previous films roles.
Hero Pete is played by Dylan Bruno, best known as the dapper FBI agent in the TV series Numb3rs.
He was part of a long tradition of slickly groomed FBI men. See other such characters
in the TV series White Collar and Battle Creek.
And sidekick Charlie Schlatter was very well-dressed as the young doctor and amateur detective in Diagnosis Murder.
The hero is not only changed in his physical appearance: he is also taught manners.
And most importantly, he learns to revise his male chauvinist attitudes towards women.
The hero is treated as a good writer, from the start to end of the film.
Writing is seen as an admirable occupation.
It gives the hero prestige and value throughout the story, whatever his other faults.
The Makeover (John Gray)
The Makeover (2013) is a modern-day version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.
It has a gender reversal, with the professor being a woman, and the
lower class person who gets transformed is a working class man.
The original Professor Higgins was an expert on speech and linguistics.
This is still part of the repertoire of the scholar Hannah Higgins in The Makeover.
But her expertise has been extended in interesting ways.
She is now a specialist in innovative education techniques.
She is applying these in schools, on an industrial scale.
She is best described as an expert in cognitive science: the study
of how people think, perceive and learn. Cognitive science, also known as
cognitive psychology, is today a cutting edge discipline.
It is interesting to see it embodied in a movie.
I only wish these scenes were longer, and took up a greater share of the film.
See my list of cognitive science films.
Scientist characters are widespread today on American TV, especially in
crime dramas and science fiction shows. The Makeover
is an example of a romantic comedy with a scientist in the lead.
Many makeover films show the hero as a tramp, before he appears in regular clothes.
The Makeover is different. The hero plays a respectable working class man,
with a steady job, a responsible attitude, and a place in society.
But he looks terrible in his standard working class get-up.
And startlingly better in a good suit and tie. There is an eerie dimension of social commentary.
Working class life is depicted as people getting the short end of the stick.