Saturday, October 8, 2022

Get Your Hands on These

Ben Cooper was the "goto" for Halloween costumes from the 1930's through the 1980's.  Most people remember them for their cartoon and comic character costumes made of vinyl and sharp plastic masks held to your face with rubber bands so thin they would snap if you merely flexed your cheeks (and not necessarily the ones on your face).

Ben Cooper also marketed latex and rubber masks that could be found hung on racks or piled unceremoniously in cardboard bins at stores such as Woolworth's and Ben Franklin's.  It was at my local Ben Franklin's around Halloween every year that would find me digging through the masks, trying each one on, the smell of latex filling my nose, and dreaming of buying one so I could REALLY scare some people while Trick or Treating that year.  And if the masks weren't enough, you could buy matching rubber gloves to complete your look.  Oh, who could possibly afford such luxuries? Not me.  So back in the bins they went.

I found these Ben Cooper rubber gloves this past year.  They date from the late 1970's to early 1980's.

At first I was unsure of the manufacturer as the maker's mark was so poorly molded in the gloves. But after taking the photo below and zooming in, I finally made out the barely visible "© Ben Cooper" and "Made in Taiwan".

I've seen these gloves in green and pallid flesh tones cited as Frankenstein's monster hands. Initially, I thought these might be Werewolf/Wolfman gloves, but the blunt fingernails and scar on the hand contradict that.  I suppose they could be generic monster hands.

Ben Cooper (the person) established Ben Cooper, Inc. in 1937, specializing in Disney costumes. Beginning in the 1950's, Ben Cooper licensed television show characters such as Superman and Zorro.  In the 1960's, they began licensing Marvel and DC comics characters. Ben Cooper even famously created a "Spiderman" costume in 1954, 8 years before Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created theirs.  Some people have suggested, given the proximity of the Ben Cooper office to Marvel's, the similarities are more than coincidence. 

Ben Cooper, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 1988 and was bought by Rubie's Costume Company in 1992.


  1. wow, i had no idea about the interesting connection between Ben Cooper and Stan Lee/Ditko. we have been working on what we call our "Marvel-cation," trying desperately to catch up on all the Marvel movies (they come out every 2 weeks, i swear!). Last night we finished Civil War, which was super fun, and of course the ... latest?... incarnation of Spider-Man was enjoyable and i think pretty correct, at least as far as his age goes. Anyway, this has nothing to do with random rubber monster hands, sorry. but i do have the same generational olfactory memory for those masks and hands. they were SO SWEATY!

    1. My daughter loves the latest Spider-man movies, but I'm pretty meh on them. You're right about the age accuracy, although Tom Holland is in his 20's, he does play a teenager. I don't care for the retrofitting of Tony Stark into the story. Did you know John Francis Daley, "Sam" from "Freaks and Geeks" wrote the screenplay for "Spider-man: Homecoming"?

    2. well, it's just fun to see them playing up how young he is. i haven't seen Homecoming yet, but if it's in the Marvel timeline, i'm sure we'll get to it eventually. we're working through the chronological order. I didn't realize they retrofitted Stark into things, but he's SO popular, i can't blame them. he's such a narcissistic overconfident blowhard, but he's also fun. i'm especially fond of Paul Rudd as Ant Man, because Paul Rudd <3. and omg Black Widow is amazing. Captain America is appropriately pure. Thor is just pure fun. even the new Hulk is great. i was never invented in the DC vs. Marvel thing, but Marvel certainly is having fun right now with all their characters.

    3. Yeah, having read Spider-Man since I was about 7, I'm heavily invested in the mythos, so I take exception to rewrites. To me, the closest Marvel came to capturing Spider-Man on film was the Toby McGuire in Spider-Man 2, organic webs notwithstanding .

  2. Replies
    1. Creepy without being gory. That's Halloween to me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...