Noel Taylor, Costume Designer for Stage and Screen, has Died at 97

Photo by Wally Fong / Associated Press

Photo by Wally Fong / Associated Press

Noel Taylor, who died on November 4th of natural causes at 97, was an award winning costume designer who worked for over seven decades in film, television, and theatre. After Taylor dropped out of school and began acting at 16, he even worked on Broadway with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. Still a teenager he wrote the play Cross Ruff, which had a short run on Broadway. He would go on to study painting in Europe and began working as a costume designer. His big break came working with the artist Marc Chagall on George Balanchine's production of Stravinsky's Firebird at the Metropolitan Opera. Taylor painted virtually all the scenery and props in six weeks. Taylor was also a veteran, having served during World War II in the Coast Guard.

A pivotal point in his design career was when he was asked by actress and director Eva Le Gallienne to design costumes for her 1947 production of Alice in Wonderland. He would go on to create costumes for more than 100 stage shows, including more than 70 on Broadway including productions of Stalag 17, Dial M for Murder, and The Teahouse of the August Moon. He also designed the costumes for the original Broadway productions of No Time for Sergeants, The Night of the Iguana, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and What Makes Sammy Run?.

He also worked extensively in film as well as in television and dressed many stars including Gloria Swanson, Kirk Douglas, Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, and Katherine Hepburn. Among his notable credits was his 17 years of designs for the Hallmark Hall of Fame series. His Hallmark series work included Hamlet, The Green Pastures, and The Magnificent Yankee, for which he was nominated for the very first Emmy Award for Costume Design. Taylor was nominated for four Emmys and won for the PBS production Actor: The Paul Muni Story. The Costume Designers Guild gave him a lifetime achievement award in 2004 for his contributions to television.

Here is a link to a great video interview for the Archive of American Television that the Television Academy Foundation conducted with Taylor in 2005 about his career – http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/noel-taylor

Also here is a link to an excellent article on his work in the New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/arts/design/15taylor.html

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