Noel Taylor, Broadway Costume Designer, Dies at 97

Obituaries   Noel Taylor, Broadway Costume Designer, Dies at 97
Noel Taylor, who designed the costumes for dozens of Broadway shows, including some of the most popular productions of the 1950s, died Nov. 4 in Los Angeles. He was 97.

If you were a theatregoer in the couple decades following World War II, you couldn't help but see Mr. Taylor's work. He designed the military uniforms in No Time for Sergeants and the prison uniforms in Stalag 17, the elegants suits and dresses for the thriller Dial "M" for Murder and the colorful Asian garments for The Teahouse of the August Moon. He clothed Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame and Bette Davis is The Night of the Iguana, not to mention Julie Harris in more than a dozen plays.

Mr. Taylor's second Broadway show may have been his most impressive of all. He built, by himself, 140 costumes to fit the many fantastic characters of Eve La Gallienne's 1947 revival of her adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Mr. Taylor's other stage credits included The Wild Duck, One Bright Day, The Male Animal, First Lady, Bernardine, The Ladies of the Corridor, In the Summer House, The Apple Cart, Good as Gold, The Body Beautiful, Comes a Day, Tall Story, The Wall, Little Moon of Alban, A Shot in the Dark, Strange Interlude, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, What Makes Sammy Run?, And Thing That Go Bump in the Night, Slapstick Tragedy, Lovers, We Bombed in New Haven, the 1972 revival of A Funny Thing Happened..., The Norman Conquests, Chapter Two, Paul Robeson, Lucifer's Child, The Gin Game and The Sunshine Boys.

He was never nominated for a Tony Award, but, working equally much in television and film, he won an Emmy for Career Achievement in 2004.

Harold Alexander Taylor Jr. was born in Youngstown, OH, on Jan. 17, 1913, and dropped out of school when he was 16 to pursue theatre. His father, a stockbroker, gained him access to early jobs, such as the part of a bellboy in Reunion in Vienna with the Lunts. When he was 18, his play Cross Ruff ran for a short time on Broadway. He then went to Europe to learn to write and paint and became acquainted with the famous Hollywood designer Edith Head. His career as a designer began in a dramatic way, when painter Marc Chagall asked him to help paint costumes for the New York City Ballet's 1945 production of The Firebird, staged by George Balanchine.

That experience informed his latter career. "When I'm doing a costume, I don't think of it as a piece of wardrobe," Taylor one said. "I think of it as a painting."

He left no survivors.

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