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John David Ridge Collection

Identifier: MSS 0425

Scope and Content

The John David Ridge Collection represents over 50 fifty years (c. 1960-2019) of theatrical history and the illustrious professional career of costume designer John David Ridge. The first two boxes contain folders showcasing family history dating back to 1890 through John Ridge’s formative years of the 1950s. The bulk of the collection consists of 142 boxes of theatre, film, television, opera and ballet ephemera including programs, playbills, photographs, personal correspondence and an impressive collection of costume "bibles" (preserved as they were used by Ridge on various working theatrical, film and television projects).The first donor gift was made in 1988 followed by additional contributions in the 1990s and 2000s. The collection is arranged under various headings (See ARRANGEMENT NOTE).


  • Creation: 1890 - 2020
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1960 - 2020



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

From an early age, John David Ridge was drawn to the theatrical life, acting in various community theatre productions, as a child and teenager, and apprenticing (beginning at age 14) in an Equity summer stock company. He worked in all aspects of the theatre, but discovered his niche in costuming. Ridge attended Pratt Institute and was one of the first graduates of the New York University School of the Arts, in Theatre Design, in 1968.

John Ridge has worked as a costume designer, costume maker and costume supervisor for Broadway (RING ROUND THE MOON, COPPERFIELD, DRACULA, AMADEUS, MY FAIR LADY, etc.), off-Broadway (A LIFE IN THE THEATRE, THE KITCHEN, THREE SISTERS, etc.), film (HAIR, THE WIZ, THE GOODBY GIRL, SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK, OCEAN’S 11, etc.), television (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE for the first 5 years of the series, JAMES DEAN starring James Franco, ME AND MY SHADOWS: LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND starring Judy Davis, THE BEST OF BROADWAY on PBS, THE DUDLEY MOORE SHOW, ROOM FOR TWO starring Linda Lavin, etc.), opera (SANTA FE OPERA, NEW YORK CITY OPERA, etc.) and ballet (various iconic productions for the Joffrey Ballet including the acclaimed 1987 presentation of THE NUTCRACKER), both in this country and in England. In addition to designing, he founded and was head of the costume department at the Juilliard School (personally selected by director John Houseman for this task) from 1970-73. He was Vice-President and General Manager of the Brooks-Van Horn Costume Company, Costume Supervisor for the National Theatre of Great Britain in 1983 and was Vice-President and Design Director for Halston Enterprises in New York from 1984 - 90. Ridge collaborated closely with Halston on the couture collection as well as product development. When Halston was forced to leave the company he founded, John Ridge replaced America’s first superstar designer at the helm of the company to design the couture collection, the prestigious ready-to-wear collection and the Halston III line of fashion.

From 1993 to 2015, he was the head of JOHN DAVID RIDGE, INC., his own Hollywood costume company, sought after by producers, studios, stage companies and performers, for the creation of costumes for over 100 films and over 200 stage productions. For over half a century, Ridge has worked with the biggest names in entertainment including Robert Joffrey, John Houseman, Cecil Beaton, Rex Harrison, Frank Langella, Julie Andrews, Patti LuPone, Bette Midler, Edward Gorey, Carol Channing, Celine Dion, Siegfried and Roy, Kevin Kline, Rod Stewart, Jack Nicholson, Lilly Tomlin, Jose Ferrer, Laurence Fishburne, Nicole Kidman, Sharon Stone, Drew Barrymore, Quentin Tarantino, Katherine Hepburn, etc. John Ridge has been nominated for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for costume design (RING ROUND THE MOON - 1999) and is the recipient of the Carbonell Award for Best Costume Design presented by the Miami Press Association in 1981, the Woodbury University (Los Angeles) Lifetime Achievement Award in Design in 2002 and the distinguished Theatre Development Fund/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award in 2010.


95 Linear Feet (146 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Costume sketches, notes, photographs, and ephemera, belonging to theatre, cinema, television and dance costume designer, John David Ridge.


Ephemeral materials in the John David Ridge Collection have been organized and contained in archival non-acidic folders and boxes (26 - 7 x 10 x 15 inch archival clam shell boxes, 102 - 5 x 12 x 15.5 inch archival clam shell boxes, 13 archival flat-storage boxes and a single costume archival box). The collection items have been categorized by BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION, various theatrical organizations (The Juilliard School, The City Center Acting Company, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Santa Fe Opera, The Joffrey Ballet, etc.), THEATRE EPHEMERA (By show title - AMADEUS, DRACULA, JEAN SEBERG, RING ROUND THE MOON, MY FAIR LADY, etc..), THEATRE COSTUME “BIBLES” (Filed Chronologically and by show title), THE JOFFREY BALLET (Filed chronologically and by show title), CINEMA - MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTION EPHEMERA (Part 1 -Filed alphabetically and Part 2 chronologically), TELEVISION (Filed chronologically), MISCELLANEOUS COSTUME “BIBLES” (Melissa Manchester, Siegfried and Roy, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, etc. - Filed chronologically), HALSTON ENTERPRISES (Filed chronologically), OVERSIZE EPHEMERA (Filed as BIOGRAPHICAL, THEATRE, DANCE, CINEMA, TELEVISION, HALSTON, etc.), a single DRACULA OVERSIZE costume box, etc.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Theatre, cinema, television and dance costume designer, John David Ridge, has a long family history on the University of Florida campus. His father, Dr. John Drew Ridge, was the head of the University of Florida Geology Department (c. late 1960s-early 1970s) and his mother, Margaret Ridge, was the Slavic Languages cataloguer/librarian in the University Libraries in the 1970s. Margaret Ridge’s friendship with Marcia Brookbank, curator of the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts, led to an agreement to accept the John David Ridge Collection, from the distinguished costume designer, in 1988. Tony Award-nominated (RING ROUND THE MOON – 1999) John David Ridge continued to donate career material to the existing Belknap holdings and his colorful 50 (plus) year career is represented with costume sketches, promotional ephemera, photographs, costume artifacts, etc. for use by University of Florida students and the general public.

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the John David Ridge Collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

Theatre Playbills and programs, representing the work of John David Ridge, may also be found in the Belknap Playbills and Programs Collection in the University of Florida/George a. Smathers Libraries Department of Special and Area Studies Collections.

Processing Information

Box 128 was removed from the collection after digitization occurred.

A Guide to the John David Ridge Collection
Finding aid created by Jim Liversidge
October 2019 (Updated September 2023)
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America