Friday, May 24, 2024

Three Time Tony Award Winner Tony Walton Dies at 87, Famed Costume and Set Designer Of “Mary Poppins”


Tony Walton, 87, was one of the great costume, set, and production designers of our lifetimes. He was married famously to Julie Andrews, who he was married to from 1959 to 1967. Walton earned three Tony Awards from 16 nominations. He was also nominated for three Oscars including “Mary Poppins.” The others were 1974’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” and 1978’s “The Wiz.”

Even though they divorced and remarried others, Andrews and Walton were great friends. Their daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, settled in Sag Harbor, New York and took over the Bay Street Theater. Tony was married a second time to Gen LeRoy, a former model for artist Norman Rockwell, and ex-wife of Warner LeRoy (the famed restaurateur and son of producer Mervyn LeRoy). Walter, who was British, was a familiar and popular presence in Sag Harbor was and was often seen at Broadway openings. Besides his wife and daughter other survivors include stepdaughter Bridget LeRoy and five grandchildren.

Tony’s three Tony Awards winner for set design were for “Guys and Dolls” in 1992; “The House of Blue Leaves” in 1986; and the original “Pippin” in 1973. He won an Emmy award for “Death of a Salesman” in 1985. the famed Dustin Hoffman production.

He had five Oscar nominations and one win, for “All That Jazz.” He worked closely with his friend, Nob Fosse, and received two different Oscar nominations in 1978 for the movie version of “The Wiz,” costume design and art direction. Among his other film credits : Murder on the Orient Express, Fahrenheit 451, The Boy Friend, All That Jazz, Death of a Salesman, The Glass Menagerie, Regarding Henry, and Deathtrap.

Broadway credits:  Chicago, Grand Hotel, The Real Thing, The Will Rogers Follies, The House of Blue Leaves, Our Town, I’m Not Rappaport, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Uncle Vanya, Annie Get Your Gun, 1776, A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, She Loves Me, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, Harold Pinter’s Moonlight and Ashes to Ashes. He was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1991.

Following closely the death of Stephen Sondheim, Tony Walton’s exit is huge for the history of Broadway. His legacy goes on and on, and he will also just be missed as one of those great superstars who made New York a better place.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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