Freddy Wittop, Designer Who Created Dolly's 'Sunday Clothes,' Dead at 89

News   Freddy Wittop, Designer Who Created Dolly's 'Sunday Clothes,' Dead at 89 Freddy Wittop, the costume designer who won a Tony Award for creating the parade of "Sunday clothes," and more, in Hello, Dolly!, died Feb. 2 after a brief illness, according to a spokesman for the Theatre Development Fund's Irene Sharaff Awards.
David Burns and Carol Channing in Freddy Wittop's Hello Dolly designs.
David Burns and Carol Channing in Freddy Wittop's Hello Dolly designs.

Freddy Wittop, the costume designer who won a Tony Award for creating the parade of "Sunday clothes," and more, in Hello, Dolly!, died Feb. 2 after a brief illness, according to a spokesman for the Theatre Development Fund's Irene Sharaff Awards.

Netherlands native Mr. Wittop, who was nominated for Tonys several times, was 89, and died at the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, FL. He was the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree of the Sharaff Awards, to be presented April 6. TDF's David Le Shay said that Mr. Wittop had been told of the honor in mid-January.

Among Mr. Wittop's costume-design assignments were Harold Clurman's revival of Shaw's Heartbreak House with Maurice Evans; the musical, Carnival, with Jerry Orbach and Anna Maria Alberghetti; Subways Are For Sleeping for David Merrick; and (earning him Tony nominations for Best Costume Design) 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 11-year retirement in Ibiza, off the Coast of Spain, Mr. Wittop designed costumes for The Three Musketeers in Manhattan.

Born in Bussum, the Netherlands, July 26, 1911, Mr. Wittop moved with his family to Brussels where he apprenticed as a teenager with the resident designer at the Brussels Opera. In Paris, Mr. Wittop designed for the Folies Bergere and other music halls creating hundreds of costumes for chorus as well as stars Mistinguett and Josephine Baker. Mr. Wittop was also a dancer, and studied Spanish dance. In the 1930's he began a professional dancing career in Paris that led to international acclaim. He and his first partner, the famed Argentinita, appeared around the world (1941-43). He made his Broadway debut as a performer in 1942, in Top Notches. According to "Who's Who in the American Theatre," Mr. Wittop toured the U.S. and Europe with his own dance company, 1951-58.

Mr. Wittop started designing for Ice Capades in 1940-41, and created costumes for George Abbott's Broadway musical, Beat the Band. His costumes were also seen in major nightclub revues at the French Casino, The Latin Quarter and elsewhere. Mr. Wittop also designed Ballet Theatre productions of El Amor Brujo, Pictures of Goya and Bolero at the Metropolitan Opera House, in 1944.

Wittop retired again in 1986 to Tequesta, FL, but made trips to Athens, GA, 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.

The TDF Irene Sharaff Award for "lifetime achievement in theatrical costume design" will be accepted posthumously on his behalf at a reception April 6 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

— By Kenneth Jones