Broadway Designer William J. Eckart is Dead at 80

News   Broadway Designer William J. Eckart is Dead at 80 William J. Eckart, the Broadway designer and producer, died Jan. 24 en route to a Dallas hospital, The Dallas Morning News reported.

William J. Eckart, the Broadway designer and producer, died Jan. 24 en route to a Dallas hospital, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Mr. Eckart was 80, and was predeceased by his wife, Jean Eckart, also a producer and designer, and frequent collaborator.

The couple worked together on numerous productions, boldly underlining the period whimsy of such productions as She Loves Me, Li'l Abner, The Golden Apple, Anyone Can Whistle, Mame, Tenderloin and Once Upon a Mattress (the latter he also co-produced).

Mr. Eckart was appointed head of Theatre Design Studies at Southern Methodist University in 1971. He and his wife designed stagings there and, throughout their careers, partnered on film, TV and stage projects around the world.

They were favorites of George Abbott, working with him nine times. A memorable Eckart set in Mame had a staircase that moved while a spangled Angela Lansbury stood on top.

The Eckarts designed costumes for the film of "The Pajama Game" and sets and costumes for Damn Yankees on stage.

Mr. Eckart was born in New Iberia, LA, in 1920, and attended Tulane University and Yale.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Eckart was active in Dallas theatre after he retired from SMU. He designed The Illusion at SMU in fall 1999. His final design is for the upcoming Quad C Theatre production of Macbeth, which runs Feb. 24-March 5 in the John Anthony Theatre on the campus of Collin County Community College in Plano, TX.

Mr. Eckart is survived by his son, Peter Eckart of San Francisco, and daughter, Julia Johnson of Dallas; grandchildren Phoebe Eckart and Travis Johnson; sister Rosemary Bernard of New Iberia, LA; and stepmother-in-law Hester Kahn.

-- By Kenneth Jones