But the kids? They loved it anyway, even if their vision was significantly impaired by the restrictive eyeholes in those hard, plastic masks that many of the costumes needed.
We’ve gathered up a large collection of the most popular vintage Halloween masks and costumes from the era, most of which you could pick up at your neighborhood drugstore or Woolworth’s.
Costumes popular for Halloween funsters (1974)
Evening Herald (Shenandoah, Pennsylvania) October 31, 1974
For a preview of what the little hobgoblins will be wearing Halloween, I talked with William Wimmer, an executive of one of the big two Halloween costume makers.
His firm, Collegeville, in Collegeville, Pa., and Ben Cooper Inc. in New York turn out most Halloween costumes — and that includes some for adults.
The hottest costume in the adult line is the Oil Sheik. More than a thousand dozen were sold way before Halloween. In fact, much to Wimmer’s regret, the costume was out of stock weeks before Halloween. (It moved fast, too, in the juvenile line.)
Vintage Halloween masks & costumes on display
The Sheik costume for adults outpaced the Shadow, Clown, Devil, Fortune Teller, Hobo, Skeleton and Witch.
In the juvenile department, the newest thing is costumes with lights that blink. The flasher-light unit is fixed into the head part of the mask and is said to be safe. Characters in the flasher-light rig include clown, devil, princess, dragon, and spooky monster.
In the tiny tot department, Casper the Friendly Ghost is the rage. The little kiddies also like Teddy Bear, Fluffy Kitten, White Rabbit, Friendly Lion, Bugs Bunny and Clowns.
Boo! Vintage Halloween masks: Skeleton & I Dream of Jeannie
These harmless disguises all pretend to be spittin’ images of characters found by children in cartoons, movies and storyland. In the costume line for older children, there are frightening characters but also some letting the boys and girls go as contemporary Idols. Namely — Football Superstar, Blues Singer, Beauty Queen, Soul Singer.
Halloween costumes are keeping up with the fever building toward the nation’s bicentennial. For girls, there are costumes of an Indian Princess, Miss Liberty, Betsy Ross. Boys can select from among the following costumes: Uncle Sam, George Washington, Indian and Brave.
To keep tuned to safety, many of the commercially made costumes have stripes that glow when lights hit them. Another safety twist: Costumes that are mostly all white — more easily seen at night.
At the Cooper firm, Planet of the Apes characters are new this year, and the costumes include Caesar, Lisa and Warrior. Other costumes from comics, the movies and television — Star Trek, Kung Fu, Batman, Superman.
From the World of Walt Disney, cartoons and creations are the all-time favorites — Donald Duck, Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse. Monsters are big with the kids and costumes catering to this appetite include the Creature, Wolfman, the Mummy, Vampire, Frankenstein, Spiderman.
Makeup sets offer the chance to look like almost anything or anyone. Expect a lot of Planet of the Apes trick-n-treaters. A hot item is a Planet of the Apes make-up set.
Monster-Glo Costumes and Vintage Halloween Masks (1966)
Black Cat – Devil – Body Snatcher – Monster – Skeleton – Ghastly Genie – Vampire – Ghoul
Collegeville vintage Halloween masks & costumes (1966)
Black Cat – Cinderella – Monster – Pirate – Hobo – Skeleton
Old plastic masks including Planet of the Apes, Frankenstein, Witch, Princess & Pirate
Vintage Collegeville Halloween masks from 1960s
Astronaut, Cinderella, Clown, Devil, Hootenanny, Monster, Pirate, Princess, Secret Agent, Skull, Tiger, Witch
Black cat, Brute, Clown, Devil, Ghastly Gertie, Ghost, Ghoul, Monster, Red Skull, Body Snatcher, Vampire, Witch
Bat, Brute, Ghastly Gertie, Gorilla, Ghoul, Monster, Body Snatcher, Weird-O, Fink.
Vintage Halloween mask & costume sets: Popeye, Hagar the Horrible, Lil’ Tiger, Stripe the Pup, The Phantom, Skeleton
Vintage Halloween masks & costumes: Sylvester, Daffy Duck, Mr Do Bee (from Romper Room), Underdog & Bullwinkle
Ill-fitting cheap costumes! Bugs Bunny, Hot Wheels, Road Runner, Casper the Friendly Ghost
Actual Flying Nun and Bugs Bunny vintage Halloween masks
Complete costumes for the wee folk (1966)
Clown – Kitten – Blue Fairy (sparkle velvet decorations) – Red Riding Hood – Pirate – Rabbit – Skeleton – Witch – Black cat
Amazing rubber masks – Comic wigs – Funny hair
Vintage 60s TV Hero Halloween costumes at Woolworth (1969)
These vintage Halloween costumes based on ’70s TV shows were creepy for all the wrong reasons
The manufacturers based the designs on popular characters at the time — on this page, we’re talking TV stars like Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul as Starsky and Hutch, cartoon characters like Bullwinkle — and even the canine star of stage and screen, the loveable mutt, Benji.
Seems like nice, wholesome fun, right? But the Shadow knows that when you see the make-believe next to their real-life inspiration, you’ll see why children dressed up as these ’70s TV stars were actually scary.
The costume makers clearly spent several whole minutes on the artistry, before mass-producing plastic clothing and masks that harried parents could pick up at the drugstore or supermarket. Because they knew that spending a few bucks was a lot easier than sewing a custom costume… and besides, kids thought the lousy store-bought versions were super cool. Especially the ones featuring superheroes.
The costume/mask combinations were considered to be so cool, in fact, that even Jerry Seinfeld wore ’em… and years later, worked them into one of his best-known standup shows:
“I was thinking that this is probably the same exact costume that Superman wears himself. When you put these things on, it’s not exactly the super-fit that you are hoping for. It looks more like Superman’s pajamas, that’s what it looks like.” – From Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I’m Telling You for the Last Time
If you aren’t too creeped out by these unintentionally terrible ’70s costumes, you can watch the whole Seinfeld clip at the end of this page.
Vintage 1970s Halloween costumes & mask sets: Starsky & Hutch
In 1977, we imagine people around the country reported thousands of sightings of Starsky and Hutch, because these masks were so incredibly lifelike. I mean, can you say with certainty that’s not David Soul on the far right?
See more of these guys here: Starsky and Hutch: The TV story & the classic theme music (1975-1979)
Benji the dog 70s Halloween costume
Benji? Is that really you? Can’t be. You’re so cute, and the Benji here is the stuff of nightmares. That’s ruff.
Vintage Halloween costume from The Blue Knight
Poor George Kennedy. In 1967, he played opposite Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke,” and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. A decade later, he was starring in “The Blue Knight” as a guy with the unfortunate name of Bumper Morgan.
As if that character name wasn’t bad enough, soon there was a Halloween mask being sold nationwide that was supposedly made in Kennedy’s image. The problem is that the mask looked less like him as a cop, and more like the face on one of your grandma’s creepy antique dolls. See?
Vintage Halloween costumes from Charlie’s Angels
We’re not sure which gal from Charlie’s Angels is supposed to be represented here, so here are all three of the original angels as of 1976-1977.
Our best guess based on the blonde hair: This is supposed to be Farrah Fawcett’s character, Jill Munroe — though maybe it was supposed to be Fawcett’s replacement, Cheryl Ladd who played Kris Munroe (inset photo). Or, hey — maybe it’s supposed to be Bosley?
One thing for sure: the mask doesn’t look like any of them.
Vintage Halloween costume with everyone’s favorite moose, Bullwinkle
And now, here’s something we hope you’ll really like!
Yes, we understand that it’s hard to translate a face that long — and antlers that wide — to a kids’ Halloween costume. And if there was ever any question as to the difficulty of such an endeavor, this outfit makes it very, very clear.
Wonder Woman’s 1970s Halloween costume makes us wonder
There is no way that anyone actually believed this costume resembled Wonder Woman, as played by the phenomenally gorgeous Lynda Carter. Sure, the plastic T-shirt in place of the bustier was a clever touch, but the real dealbreaker was obvious: Wonder Woman didn’t wear pants like this.
But that’s okay, because there’s no good reason for a little girl to have have been out in public (especially on a cold night) in the outfit Diana Prince’s alter ego wore.
Vintage 1970s Halloween costumes & masks: Holmes & Yoyo
Holmes & Yoyo was a very short-lived police comedy TV show that ran in 1976-1977 for 13 episodes. This costume and mask depicted the android Yoyo, played by John Schuck. When it came to designing the show’s human/computer interface, looks like they decided to tape a couple calculators to his chest and call it good.
And on this old Halloween costume? Well, the calculators looked decent enough, and they got John’s eyebrows close.
Eh, forget it. We’re just going to call this one a really strange Tony Curtis costume.
More vintage Halloween costumes based on old TV shows
If Angie Dickinson — the lead actress in the Police Woman TV series, who played Sergeant “Pepper” Anderson — actually looked like this mask, her TV career would have ended before it ever began. But the dress, though. They got that part totally right.
Old-school costumes you could buy
Years after his 76-episode run on Mission: Impossible, Martin Landau caught the role of Commander John Koenig in the sci-fi TV show Space: 1999.
The mask isn’t terrible — the helmet helps — but we doubt Landau’s character would have spent his time on the moon wearing this shirt with what looks like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopied picture of him with his co-star/wife Barbara Bain.
Halloween costumes from the classic sci-fi show Space 1999
This gorgeous woman — Maya from Space 1999, played by Catherine Schell — is so poorly portrayed by this vintage Halloween costume, she probably could have filed a defamation of character lawsuit. (Note: I’m not a lawyer, nor did she play one on TV. She was a science officer.)
Jerry Seinfeld on the struggle of trick-or-treating wearing vintage Halloween masks (video)
“So I’m going out trick-or-treating, but the mask’s rubber band keeps breaking and keeps getting shorter. I’m fixing it, it’s getting tighter and tighter on my face.
“You know, when it starts slicing into your eyeballs there and you’re trying to breathe through that little hole… getting all sweaty. ‘I can’t see, I can’t breathe, but we gotta keep going, we gotta get the candy.'” – From Jerry Seinfeld Live on Broadway: I’m Telling You for the Last Time
Vintage kids’ Halloween costumes for trick-or-treating
Famous Collegeville Safety Halloween Costumes (1967)
Vintage Halloween Masks & Costumes (1968)
Collegeville safety Halloween Costumes – $1.58
The Witch – Mr Spock – Dr Doolittle – Bugs Bunny – Casper