Own a piece of television history from the Comisar Collection auction

Calling all TV fans! On June 2-4, 2023, Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Tex. will present The Comisar Collection Platinum Signature Auction filled with nearly 1,000 pieces of television history, from Gilligan’s iconic bucket hat to Mr. Spock’s ears.

Gilligan's Island

In 1989, James Comisar acquired two hand-painted cards from “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” that promised “More to Come” before commercial breaks. Since then, he has collected more than 10,000 sets, props, and costumes spanning the history of television.

Comisar’s dream was to open a museum, but when that didn’t work out, he decided to offer some of his TV treasures to the public – most of which have never been to auction before.

James Comisar
James Comisar behind the “Cheers” bar

“After 30 years of saving and sacrificing to acquire and protect this collection, then meeting with studio heads, network presidents, theme parks, and different cities across the country, I have come to accept that I won’t be able to establish the museum for TV fans I always dreamed of,” Comisar said. “I am extremely proud to have done my part in assembling and safeguarding this collection. Now, it’s up to others to take over this cultural mission.”

The Comisar Collection auction highlights “must-see TV” from every era, including Captain Kirk’s gold uniform from “Star Trek” and animation cels from “The Simpsons.”

Star Trek

“When acquiring items like these – pieces that took decades to collect and wouldn’t have survived had it not been for James – you’re getting so much more than the object,” says Heritage’s Chief Strategy Officer Joshua Benesh. “You’re buying American history.”

Comisar hopes these iconic pieces will find new caretakers who appreciate them as much as he does.

“I feel like I’ve taken this as far as possible,” he said. “I am excited to find out who takes the baton and cares for and celebrates these objects. These pieces are part of our shared experience. And they need to go back out into the world.”

Here are some highlights from the upcoming Comisar Collection Platinum Signature Auction:

“Star Trek” Costumes

Earliest Known Sketch of “Star Trek” Costumes (Lot #89140) – Extremely rare pre-production artifact of the earliest known drawing of Starfleet uniforms by costume designer William Ware Theiss (acquired from Theiss’ collection). The costume sketch in black ink on the back of a mid-1960s Howard Johnson placemat depicts a male tunic and insignia, a woman’s tunic and high boots, and a female warrior’s costume, which resembles the costume worn by Sherry Jackson from Season 1, Episode 7 “What Little Girls Are Made of.”

Comisar Collection auction - Star Trek sketch

William Shatner “James T. Kirk” Signature First Season Original Starfleet Captain’s Tunic (Lot #89132) – Captain James T. Kirk’s iconic Starfleet Captain’s burnt yellow velour tunic worn by William Shatner on Season 1 of “Star Trek.”

Comisar Collection auction - Star Trek costume

Leonard Nimoy “Mr. Spock” Prosthetic “Vulcan” Ear Tips (Lot #89127) – The foam latex prosthetic pointed ear tips applied to Leonard Nimoy for his role as “Spock” on “Star Trek.” These come from the estate of Fred Phillips, the “Star Trek” makeup artist who created Spock’s iconic ears and many of the show’s creatures and characters.

Comisar Collection auction - Spock ears

Super Heroes and Villains

Lynda Carter “Wonder Woman” Metal Cuffs (Lot #89152) – Pair of original painted “bullet deflecting” metal cuffs embellished with red star sequins and lined with gray felt brandished by Lynda Carter during Season 1 as “Wonder Woman.” These Season 1 cuffs were acquired from the Warner Bros. archives and are noticeably different than the hammered gold look of Season two onward.

Comisar Collection auction - Wonder Woman bracelets

Batman and Robin Costume Ensembles (Lot #89158) – Among the most identifiable TV superheroes are Batman, “The Caped Crusader” and Robin, “The Boy Wonder” played by Adam West and Burt Ward in “Batman.”

Batman and Robin

The original pieces of the Batman costume worn by Adam West (many of which are marked “A” for Adam West) include a burgundy-toned satin cowl with painted black pointed ears, a full-length royal-blue satin walking cape with a bat wing shape, a gray long-sleeve leotard with an applied black Bat emblem on an oval canary-yellow field on the chest, matching gray leggings, burgundy-toned satin shorts, a wide yellow utility belt with brass bat-shaped buckle, four attached yellow pockets, and one yellow dowel, and burgundy satin long gauntlet gloves.

Comisar Collection auction - Batman and Robin costumes

The original items in the Robin costume worn by actor Burt Ward are the yellow satin fingertip-length cape, a cherry-red velvet vest with yellow shoelace closures, and a yellow felt “R” emblem on a black circular field at the proper left chest, a green cotton tee-shirt, nude leggings, green knitted shorts, green suede winged boots.

Bat Shield fromBatman” (Lot #89156) – The folding, transparent acrylic Bat Shield featured a distinctive bat shape and was used by Batman and Robin to defend themselves in the Season 1 episode “The Joker Goes to School’ and “The Joker Trumps an Ace,’ and the Season 2 episode ‘The Penguin’s Nest.”  This is believed to have been the only Bat Shield made, making it one of the most desirable Bat-props from the 60s series.

Comisar Collection auction - Bat Shield
Batman and Robin

Frank Gorshin’s “The Riddler” Signature Iconic “?” Green Suit Jacket and Vest (Lot #89160) –The iconic lime green “?” double-breasted suit jacket and vest worn by Frank Gorshin when viewers first met the supervillain in the pilot episode of “Batman.” Both pieces were custom-made for Frank Gorshin by Ernie Tarzia, and a label on the interior pocket features Gorshin’s name handwritten in faded ink. In addition, the stenciled question marks on the jacket have slight variations, which indicates they were individually applied by hand.

Comisar Collection auction - The Riddler Costume
Batman villains

Iconic 60s Television Costumes and Props

Barbara Eden’s Costume from “I Dream of Jeannie” (Lot #89380) – The original signature pink harem costume worn by Barbara Eden during Season 1 of “I Dream of Jeannie,” including a red velvet bolero-style short sleeve jacket with braided light pink trim and pink chiffon sleeves (with a handwritten label that reads “Barbra [sic] E., New 1965”), a matching pair of red velvet and pink silk chiffon harem pants, and magenta silk kitten-heel pumps with distinctive pointed toes, and foot opening trimmed with gold ribbon. The costume was acquired from the collection of Debbie Reynolds.

Glass Bottle from I Dream of Jeannie” (Lot #89377) – This ornate glass bottle was the home for Barbara Eden’s charming Jeannie throughout Season 1 of “I Dream of Jeannie.” The series pilot episode was in pre-production at the end of 1964, and its producer received that year’s Jim Beam Christmas decanter as a gift. The producer had the fancy bottle repainted for the show, and although the same bottle style was featured throughout the show’s five-year run, a more vivid color scheme and design was introduced when the show began filming in color after Season 1.

Gilligan Bucket Hat fromGilligan’s Island” (Lot #89386) – The original ivory cotton bucket hat worn by Bob Denver’s character throughout “Gilligan’s Island.” The signature hat was acquired from the estate of Helen Rowell, curator of the Celebrity Museum in Denton, Tex.

“The Skipper” Hat fromGilligan’s Island” (Lot #89387) –  Just as iconic as Gilligan’s bucket hat is the signature navy-blue wool skipper hat worn by Alan Hale Jr. The hat was acquired directly from the actor’s wife, Trinket Hale, who identified it as “show-used.”

“S.S. Minnow” Life Preserver Ring from Season 2 ofGilligan’s Island” (Lot #89388) – This life preserver ring has “S.S. MINNOW” printed in washed-out black block letters on a white canvas (on the reverse is painted “S.S. LUVVY” in darker black letters). This instantly-recognized prop dressed the boat built at CBS Radford Studios in Studio City, Calif. for Season 2 and was acquired from a prop master who worked at the studio.

“The Simpsons” Animation Cels

The Comisar Collection auction includes four original hand-painted cels from the longest-running series in television history – a rare find since the show now uses computer animation.

  • Homer and Marge Simpson Production Cel Setup (Lot #89744) – An original hand-painted cel setup of Homer and Marge, including a printed background for presentation purposes. The cel is accompanied by a Fox certificate of authenticity.
  • Marge, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson Production Cel Setup (Lot #89745) – An original hand-painted cel setup of Marge, Lisa, and Maggie, including a printed background for presentation purposes.
  • Homer and Grampa Simpson Production Cel Setup (Lot #89746) – An original hand-painted cel setup of Homer and Grampa, including a printed background for presentation purposes.
  • Homer and Lisa Simpson Production Cel Setup (Lot #89747) – An original hand-painted cel setup of Homer and Lisa, including a printed background for presentation purposes. The cel is accompanied by a Fox certificate of authenticity.

Big Ticket Items

“Tattoo” Signature Golf Cart fromFantasy Island” (Lot #89560) – The custom-built red golf cart with striped canvas canopy was used by the actor Herve Villechaize on Seasons 1-6 of “Fantasy Island.” The Tattoo hood decal was added later in the show’s run. The golf cart was acquired from the Herve Villechaize estate.

Comisar Collection auction - Tattoo golf cart

Cheers Bar Counter (Lot #89686) – The only bar counter and back bar ever built for the production, the true star of “Cheers” was featured in all 275 episodes and includes three wood-paneled counter sections (studio-painted with faux woodgrain) with attached brass rail armrests and brass rail footrests.

Bar section A is where Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger and Norm Peterson (George Wendt) drank and held court – “Ratz” is carved into the bar top; Bar section B is where psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) dispensed advice; and bar section C ran parallel with the upstage wall.

The Comisar Collection: The Cheers Bar

“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” Set (Lot #89236) – Comisar’s favorite item in the auction is the set used during the final decade of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (including Johnny’s final telecast on May 22, 1992).

Comisar Collection auction - Tonight Show set

Comisar acquired the set from Carson himself, who described it as “the tackiest set in Hollywood.” This lot features iconic set elements, including the interview desk, Johnny’s swivel chair, the guest chair and couch, and a seven-piece mural of “beautiful downtown Burbank.” The guest chair is accompanied by an upholstered riser footrest that would electronically extend via a button behind Carson’s desk (no longer operational).

The Comisar Collection: Johnny Carson "Tonight Show" desk

You Can Own Piece of Television History

Versions of Archie and Edith Bunker’s living room chairs and the “M*A*S*H”hometown signpost can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History – but those weren’t the only ones made. Comisar tracked down the remaining survivors, and now they can be yours.

Directional Signpost with Characters’ Hometowns fromM*A*S*H” (Lot #89654) – Arguably, one of the most recognizable props in the history of television, the directional signpost from “M*A*S*H” features character’s hometowns and the number of miles to each city from the show’s location in South Korea, including Coney Island 7033 miles,  San Francisco 528 miles, Honolulu, 4548 miles; Burbank 5610 miles, Decatur 9412 miles, and Indianapolis, 6779 miles.

Comisar Collection auction - Mash sign

Only three signposts are known to have been built for the production: One was destroyed in a fire at the Fox Ranch in Malibu State Park (where exterior shots for the series were filmed), the sign from the show’s Twentieth Century-Fox soundstage is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, and this sign was retained by series set decorator Bert F. Allen, and acquired from his estate.

Archie and Edith Bunker’s Living Room Chairs fromAll in the Family” (Lot #89618) – “All in the Family” is considered to be the most influential series in television history, and its main characters – Archie and Edith Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton) are iconic characters. This lot features Archie’s well-worn wing chair covered in orange tweed upholstery and Edith’s low-back chair covered in a yellow floral and leaf pattern.

Comisar Collection auction - Archie and Edith Bunker chairs

The original chairs were acquired by the production from a Southern California secondhand furniture store for reportedly less than $20 for use in the show’s pilot episode and went on to star in eight seasons. After the final episode of Season 8 (believed to be the show’s last), the chairs were donated to The Smithsonian Institution on Sept. 18, 1978; however, the network later ordered another season, and since the original chairs could not be reclaimed from the national collection, a second set was fabricated for the final season for $15,000.

Comisar Collection : All In The Family Interview at Heritage Auctions

Since only two sets of living room furniture were utilized in the production of the 1970s series (and one set will forever be celebrated within the national collection), these are the only Archie and Edith Bunker chairs known to exist for private collection.

Comisar Collection Platinum Signature Auction Sessions

The auction is divided into three sessions:

  • Session 1 (Lots 89001-89327) on June 2, 2023, at 11 a.m. CT
  • Session 2 (Lots 89328-89702) on June 3, 2023, at 11 a.m. CT
  • Session 3 (Lots Lots 89703-89977) on June 4, 2023, at 11 a.m. CT

Bids will be accepted via live floor, phone, mail, fax, internet, and Heritage Live bidding. Proxy bidding ends ten minutes before the session starts; Live Proxy bidding on Heritage Live starts seven days before the live session begins and continues through the session.

Click here for more information and to register to bid.

James Comisar gives you a tour of his warehouse in California, showing costumes up for auction

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  1. In the living room of All In The Family, there is a picture on the wall just left of the closet door (above your head while you’re speaking).
    Could you’d send a detailed blow up of that picture.

    Thank you,
    Mel Birnbaum
    [email protected]