Yvonne Blake, the Academy Award-winning costume designer for 1978’s Superman: The Movie and 1980’s Superman II, died in Madrid after suffering a stroke earlier this year, the Spanish Film Academy announced on Tuesday. She was 78.
Born in 1940 in Manchester, England, Blake designed costumes for such films as Jesus Christ Superstar, Fahrenheit 451, and Nicholas and Alexandra, the latter for which she won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. And of course, she designed Christopher Reeve’s iconic Superman costume for Richard Donner’s film (and Richard Lester’s sequel).
The Superman costume has gone through several other iterations on the big and small screens over the years. But the one Blake designed was the one that truly helped kick off an era of superhero films that continues to this day. Even Man of Steel director Zack Snyder dressed Henry Cavill in a replica of Blake’s Superman costume to convince Warner Bros. that Cavill was right for the job.
In addition to Donner and Lester, the roster of directors Blake has worked with includes François Truffaut, Paul Verhoeven, and Peter Bogdanovich. She was elected president of the Spanish Film Academy in 2016.
“I met Yvonne when she called me to accompany her in the presidency of the institution," said the current Spanish Film Academy president Mariano Barroso in a statement. “I witnessed her enormous generosity, her passion and her dedication, and at her age she chose to work for all of us, she took the Academy in difficult times and her work has been decisive for the new stage of modernization that we are experiencing.”