Carl Toms, a set and costume designer whose 40-year career included stints in theatre, opera, ballet, and film, died August 4 in Hertfordshire, England. He was 72; the cause was emphysema.
After studying at the Mansfield College of Art in Mansfield, Nottingham, and at the Royal College of Art and the Old Vic Theatre School in London, Toms apprenticed at the English Stage Company, then worked for five years as an assistant to Oliver Messel starting in 1952.
After leaving Messel, Toms worked on the opera Susanna's Secret in 1958 for the Glyndebourne Festival and for various West End theatre productions. He then worked with many English non-profit companies, including the Old Vic; the National Theatre, where he designed Love's Labour's Lost, Marlowe's Edward II, and Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs; the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he designed the 1989 production of the Kaufman-Hart comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner and John Osborne's A Patriot for Me; and the English Stage Company.
In 1970, Toms began to work in the American theatre and won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award in 1975 for his production design of Sherlock Holmes. He worked frequently with playwright Tom Stoppard on his plays in New York and London productions, including Travesties, Night and Day, The Real Thing, Jumpers, and Hapgood. His most recent assignments included two Edward Albee plays, Three Tall Women (1994) and A Delicate Balance (1997), and the Peter Hall production of An Ideal Husband (1996).
The seemingly inexhaustible designer also worked on nine films, including the cult classic One Million Years BC, starring Raquel Welch in a fur bikini of Toms' devising; and other cave epics, including Prehistoric Women (1967) and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). He also was the production designer for a 1968 film of The Winter's Tale
In recognition of his accomplishments, he received the Order of the British Empire in the 1969 Honors, and a Laurence Olivier Award for his design of The Provok'd Wife.