Oscar Artists: Walton, Tony–Oscar and Tony Winner Costume and Set Designer, Dies at 87

Oscar and Tony Winner Costume and Set Designer for Broadway and Hollywood, Dies at 87

His résumé included an Oscar, three Tonys, an Emmy and work on ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,’ ‘The Wiz,’ ‘Pippin’ and ‘Death of a Salesman.’

 

Tony Walton, the legendary British costume designer, set-scenic designer and production designer who won an Oscar for his work on All That Jazz and Tony Awards for PippinThe House of Blue Leaves and a revival of Guys and Dolls, has died. He was 87.

Walton died Wednesday evening in New York in his Upper West Side apartment of stroke complications, Emma Walton Hamilton, his daughter said.

Walton also earned Oscar nominations for his costume work on Mary Poppins (1964) — he was married to the star of the film, his childhood sweetheart Andrews, from 1959 until their 1968 divorce —​ and Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and for his costume and design contributions to the Diana Ross-starring The Wiz (1978).

Walton received an Emmy for his art direction on the 1985 telefilm Death of a Salesman, starring Dustin Hoffman.

He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1991 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Art Directors Guild in 2012.

Walton, who worked on Broadway in Golden BoyChicagoA Day in Hollywood /A Night in the UkraineWoman of the YearSophisticated LadiesAnything GoesI’m Not RappaportGrand HotelThe Will Rogers Follies and Uncle Vanya, among others, received 16 Tony noms during his spectacular career.

Born on Oct. 24, 1934, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, Walton was the son of a surgeon. He trained at the Slade School of Art in London in the mid-’50s and served as a Royal Air Force pilot in Canada. His first design project was an off-Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s Conversation Piece in 1957.

Walton made his Broadway debut in 1961 as a costume and scenic designer on Once There Was a Russian, starring Walter Matthau, which opened and closed on the same night.

But his fortunes improved the next year when he landed on Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

His film résumé also included the big-screen version of that play as well as Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Petulia (1968), Equus (1977), Deathtrap (1982) and Regarding Henry (1991).

He described his work process during a 2008 interview with Playbill: “I try to read the script or listen to the score as if it were a radio show and not allow myself to have a rush of imagery,” he said. “Then, after meeting with the director — and if I’m lucky the writer — and whatever input they may want to give, I try to imagine what I see as if it were slowly being revealed by a pool of light.

“I try to get the palette — and the feel of it — whether it’s crispy or soft, whatever the flavor may be, before I get into any of the essential nuts and bolts. Generally, of course, it’s about how best to tell the tale.”

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife, Genevieve LeRoy Walton, stepsister Bridget LeRoy and five grandchildren.