Peter Larkin, a four-time Tony-winning scenic designer who worked on Broadway and in Hollywood, passed away December 16 at age 93. In his long career in the theatre, Larkin designed the sets for Dial “M” for Murder (1952), Frederick Knott’s play that inspired the Hitchcock classic; the original production of Peter Pan (1954); Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs (1970); and the 1961 musical Wildcat starring Lucille Ball in her only Broadway show.
Born in Boston in 1926, Larkin began working on Broadway at age 25 when he designed the sets for the 1951 production of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. Shortly after, he was nominated for two Tony Awards for his scenic design on two separate plays in the 1954 season: The Teahouse of the August Moon, an adaptation of Vern Sneider’s novel written by John Patrick, and the Alfred Lunt-helmed English adaptation of Jean Giraudoux’s Ondine starring Audrey Hepburn and adapted by Maurice Valency. Larkin took home both Tony Awards, a rare feat that he would again repeat in 1956 when he was nominated for his scenic design of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s Inherit the Wind, directed by Herman Shumlin, and Ira Levin’s No Time for Sergeants.
Larkin would go on to be nominated four times again in a single season, this time in 1958 for his scenic design of Cy Coleman and Meyer Levin’s musical Compulsion, John Patrick’s comedy Good as Gold, James Leo Herlihy and William Noble’s drama Blue Denim, and Denis Webb and Michael Plant’s play Miss Isobel starring Shirley Booth. In 1960 he was nominated for a Tony Award for his scenic design on the Frank Loesser musical Greenwillow, and in 1984, for his design of John Kander, Terrence McNally, and Fred Ebb’s The Rink starring Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera. He had a total of six Tony nominations and four wins.
Working across scenic design, production design, and lighting, Larkin worked on 47 Broadway shows (four of which were one-act plays comprising George Furth’s Twigs, performed as a single evening of theatre). Other credits include a production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1964), Bob Fosse's Dancin' (1978), and the Elizabeth Swados-Garry Trudeau collaboration Doonesbury (1983). See all his Broadway credits here.
In the 1980s, Larkin began working as a production designer for film and television. Among his many credits were Tootsie (1982), Three Men and a Baby (1987), House of Cards (1993), Major Payne (1995), The First Wives Club (1996), and Miss Congeniality (2000).