Scenic designer and theatrical consultant Eldon Elder died on Monday, December 11, in New York City. He was 79 and lived in Manhattan. The New York Times reported the cause was heart failure. Elder was the first resident designer for Joseph Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival (NYSF) and designed the Festival's performing space, the Delacorte Theatre, in Central Park.
Elder worked for more than 50 years in the theatre, designing on and Off Broadway, regionally, and in London and Berlin.
Elder was born in Atchison, KS, and he attended Emporia State College and the University of Denver before studying scenic design at the Yale University School of Drama.
In New York, he worked for the Theatre Guild. In 1951, he designed Legend of Lovers. Ensuing projects included Time Out for Ginger, The Girl in Pink Tights, Young and Beautiful, Fallen Angels, Shinbone Alley, The Fun Couple, and many more plays.
In 1958, Elder became the first NYSF resident designer. He also worked for the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre in Stratford, CT. In addition, he was the art director for the St. Louis Municipal Opera for several years. He also worked as a designer and/or consultant for the Ypsilanti Greek Theatre in Ypsilanti, MI; the Harlem Cultural Arts Center; the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, NY; the 42nd Street Redevelopment Project; the Double Image Theatre in Manhattan; and the Zachary Scott Theatre Center in Austin, TX.
Elder also taught stage design at Brooklyn College and was the author of Will It Make a Theatre.