Designer Robert Randolph died March 3 died in Palm Springs, CA, his home. He was 77.
A set, lighting, and costume designer, Randolph’s substantial Broadway career lasted from 1954 to the early 1980s. During that time, he designed some of the New York theatre’s biggest hits. Born in Centerville, IA, in he earned BFA and MFA degrees from the University of Iowa. He made his Broadway debut in 1954, with set and costume designs for Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera The Saint of Bleecker Street. However, he continued to assist other designers, including Raoul Pene du Bois and Cecil Beaton. His breakthrough success came in 1960, with his work on the musical Bye Bye Birdie; his design for one of the show’s numbers “The Telephone Hour,” a construction of cubes, was one of the more famous sets of the period. Among Randolph’s Broadway hits were How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961); Little Me (1962); Any Wednesday (1964); Funny Girl (1964); Sweet Charity (1966); Golden Rainbow (1968); Applause (1970); the Angela Lansbury revival of Gypsy (1974); The Norman Conquests (1975) and the Jack O’Brien-staged revival of Porgy and Bess (1976).
According to Variety, in the 1964-65 season, Randolph has 11 shows running on Broadway. He is equally revered by theatre fans—especially musical aficionados—for his work on some of the era’s most beloved flops, including Bravo Giovanni (1962); the Bert Lahr vehicle Foxy (1964); Julie Harris’ only musical, Skyscraper (1965); It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman (1966), Sherry! (1967); Henry, Sweet Henry (1967); and 70, Girls, 70 (1971). His career moved westward in the 70s, as he began designing for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera and the San Francisco Light Opera. His final Broadway credit was the 1986 revival of Sweet Charity, starring Debbie Allen.
Randolph also worked extensively in television. His credits include the series That’s Life! (1968), an attempt at presenting a new musical comedy each week, and such specials as Liza with a Z and Night of 100 Stars. He also designed all Tony Awards broadcasts from 1967-84; an eight-time nominee, he never won a Tony Award.
Randolph is survived by his partner, Chuck Guthrie.