Carmen Dillon

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Carmen Dillon
Born(1908-10-25)25 October 1908
Died12 April 2000(2000-04-12) (aged 91)
Occupation Art director
Years active1938 - 1979

Carmen Dillon (25 October 1908 12 April 2000) was an English film art director and production designer who won an Oscar for the Olivier version of Hamlet (1948). [1]



Dillon was born in Hendon to Irish-born Joseph Thomas Dillon and his wife Teresa. She was one of six children, for whom their Catholic parents paid to be well educated. Carmen went to the New Hall Convent School in Chelmsford. The elder brother died during World War one, one sister became a nun and another brother emigrated. Carmen and her sisters Teresa and Agnes Dillon (known as Una) were left to fulfil their parent's ambitions for them. [2]

Dillon initially worked as an architect and designer, and was invited to design the cover for the newly formed Electrical Association for Women. [3]

However in 1934 she was invited to join the film industry. [4] This built on her enthusiasm for acting and drawing. She became an art director and production designer, and won an Oscar for Laurence Olivier's 1948 film of Hamlet . [1] It was said that for twenty-five years she was the only woman art director in the British film industry. [5]

None of the three Dillon sisters married, and they spent 42 years together in a large flat in Kensington. Tess Dillon had led the physics department at Queen Elizabeth College. [5] In 1985 Carmen retired to Hove with her sister Una, who had founded Dillons Booksellers. [2] Carmen outlived her sister and died in 2000 with no survivors. [6]

Production designer/Art director

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  1. 1 2 " Carmen Dillon - Awards". Retrieved 20 December 2008.
  2. 1 2 Jean H. Cook, ‘Dillon, Agnes Joseph Madeline [Una] (1903–1993)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 accessed 11 April 2017
  3. Pursell, Carroll (1999). "Domesticating Modernity: The Electrical Association for Women, 1924-86". The British Journal for the History of Science. 32 (1): 47–67. doi:10.1017/S0007087498003483. ISSN   0007-0874. JSTOR   4027969.
  4. Laurie N. Ede, ‘Dillon, Carmen Joseph (1908–2000)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 11 April 2017
  5. 1 2 Virginia Nicholson (5 June 2008). Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War. Penguin Adult. pp. 262–. ISBN   978-0-14-102062-4.
  6. "Carmen Dillon, 91, Art Director Known for Work on British Films". New York Times. 28 April 2000. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 11 April 2017.