Saturday, October 27, 2012

Costume Designer Jack Bear

The art of theater and performance is a collaborative art. Everyone depends on someone else to complete the work. There’s make-up and hair, costumes and sets, writers, musicans and arrangers. I had hoped to cover more information in this blog, but gathering information forty years after the fact sometimes takes a bit more time than one might think. Today I feel very fortunate to be writing about the man who created the very beautiful, sleek and unique costumes on The Julie Andrews Hour - Jack Bear. 


Jack Bear, costume designer for The Julie Andrews Hour, was an Academy Award nominated designer. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Later, he would say no one could get his name right, declaring that “Bear” was a name of Danish-German origin.

When he was seven, his parents moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio, where, after graduating from high school, he attended Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Always interested in the art of painting, initially Bear planned to be an artist, but after graduation, he moved to California, and attended the Chouinard Art Institute where he majored in fashion design.

For a short time, Mr. Bear had a shop on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. He closed the shop, however, after being offered a staff costume design position at NBC. During his ten or more years at NBC, he worked on shows like Hallmark Hall of Fame and Matinee Theater, among others, designing for stars like opera singer Dorothy Kirsten and Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Designer Ret Turner, who also worked at NBC during this time, recalls that Bear was “a lovely man and a hard worker."

After his time at NBC, Jack Bear moved to Paramount Pictures, where he worked under costume designer, Walt Hoffman. While working on The Great Race (1965), Jack Bear became acquainted with Blake Edwards. Two years later, Edwards would hire him to design costumes for his film, Gunn, an adaptation of his popular 1950s television series, Peter Gunn.

In 1966, Jack Bear designed costumes for the film, What Did You Do in the War Daddy? Following his work on Gunn, he also created costumes for the films, The Odd Couple and The Party in 1968.

In 1969, Blake Edwards hired Jack Bear to design costumes for Darling Lili. Designer Donald Brooks had already created Julie Andrews’ costumes, and a designer for the balance was needed. In total, Jack Bear designed over 400 costumes for Darling Lili, including those worn by Rock Hudson. Together, he and Donald Brooks received an Academy Award nomination for their costume design work on the film.

As a result of his work in film and television, Jack Bear enjoyed a fine reputation. He designed costumes for the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He was also asked to design clothing for Lucille Ball for some of her television specials.

In his spare time, Mr. Bear bought homes, redesigned them and sold them. According to one studio biography of the period, he was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Costume Designer’s Guild from 1967-1968. 
In 1972, Jack Bear happily accepted the job of costume designer for The Julie Andrews Hour. His designs for the show were simple and elegant, with a look that was both modern for the time and classic. Mr. Bear often repeated aspects of the designs he had created which were flattering to Julie, recreating them in new fabrics, patterns and colors. Ret Turner recalls that Bear “liked soft colors—blues and greens.” Some of his loveliest designers for Julie were in various shades of blue.

Lovely blue gown designed
by Jack Bear

Working on The Julie Andrews Hour, Mr. Bear also designed the clothing worn by Rich Little, Alice Ghostley and the dancers. According to director Bill Davis, in addition, he gave approval (if he did not design) for clothing worn by the guest stars.

In the tradition of old Hollywood, Jack Bear's costumes were made to move beautifully for the dance numbers. The number of costumes and the amount of work going into them each week – as with everything else in the show—was phenomenal. The costume room backstage was kept busy with whirring sewing machines and steam pressers. Everything had to be perfect.

When Jack Bear passed away in 2007, he still held in his possession a number of the gowns he had designed for Miss Andrews, as well as fabric swatches from the show. Some of these costumes had been lent to Western Costumes to be rented out. In 2011, Julien’s Auctions sold a number of  gowns and other items from the show.

 For further information, please visit the link below. Catalogs for this auction may still be available.

Many thanks to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ librarian for her help in finding information on designer Jack Bear’s history. Should anyone have further information or corrections, please contact me.

Coming Next: - In Between - My time between shows and how I came to be on the closed sets. Interestingly, this blog begins with making costumes!


  1. Love that show, miss it! Its production values were first-rate! --Alan (

  2. Hello!
    My name is Noé, I´m studying fashion design at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
    I am making research on the designer Jack Bear.
    My email is
    Can you help me?
    Thank you very much.