Tony Award winning costume designer, Freddy Wittop, died February 2 at age 89 at the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, FL.
Wittop was born in Bussum, the Netherlands, on July 26, 1911. Wittop moved with his family to Brussels where he apprenticed at 13 years of age with the resident designer at the Brussels Opera. Moving to Paris in 1931, Wittop designed for the Folies Bergere and other music halls, creating hundreds of costumes for chorus as well as stars Mistinguett and Josephine Baker. Wittop studied Spanish dance and in the 1930s began a professional dancing career in Paris that led to international acclaim as he and his first partner, the famed Argentinita appeared world-wide. He also toured with Pilar Gomez, Jose Greco, and Tina Ramirez.
Wittop started designing for the Ice Capades in 1942, the same year he created costumes for George Abbott's musical Beat the Band. By 1949 Wittop was desiging costumes for The Latin Quarter Night Club Revue. Harold Clurman's revival of Shaw's Heartbreak House with Maurice Evans brought Wittop significant acclaim and was followed by the successful Carnival with Jerry Orbach and Anna Maria Alberghetti, followed by Subways Are For Sleeping for David Merrick. In 1964, Wittop won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Hello Dolly, starring Carol Channing. Subsequently, he was nominated five additional times for Best Costume Design for The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd; I Do! I Do! with Mary Martin and Robert Preston; The Happy Time with Robert Goulet; A Patriot for Me; and Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen.
After an eleven-year retirement in Ibiza off the coast of Spain, Wittop returned to New York City to design costumes for The Three Musketeers. Wittop retired again in 1986 to Tequesta, Florida, although he made frequent trips to Athens, Georgia, where he held a position as adjunct professor in the school of drama at the University of Georgia. He is survived by a sister, Martina Wittop Koning, of the Netherlands.
Mr. Wittop had recently had been chosen as the 2001 recipient of Theatre Development Fund's Irene Sharaff Award for "lifetime achievement in theatrical costume design." The award will be accepted posthumously on his behalf at a reception on Friday, April 6, at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.