March 19, 1901
|Died||March 15, 1976 74) (aged|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Scenic design|
|Awards||Tony Award; Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design; Academy Award for Best Art Direction|
Joseph Mielziner (March 19, 1901 – March 15, 1976) was an American theatrical scenic, and lighting designer born in Paris, France. He was described as "the most successful set designer of the Golden era of Broadway", and worked on both stage plays and musicals.
Joseph Mielziner was the son of artist Leo Mielziner and Ella Lane McKenna Friend, a writer. Mielziner was the brother of actor-director Kenneth MacKenna. Their paternal grandfather was a rabbi.He studied painting at the Art Students League and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His brother recruited him as a stage manager for summer stock, where Mielziner discovered his passion for scenic design. With fellowships he received from the Pennsylvania Academy, he had the opportunity to study set design in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin. Additionally, he served as an apprentice to Robert Edmond Jones, designer of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under The Elms .
Mielziner was considered one of the most influential theatre designers of the 20th century,designing the scenery and often the lighting for more than 200 productions, many of which became American classics. He "pioneered 'selective realism' in scenic design". According to his obituary, he was perhaps "praised most often...for his sweeping canvas of people under the Brooklyn Bridge, used as a backdrop for Maxwell Anderson's Winterset.
After his education and spending 13 months in Europe "absorbing the revolutionary changes occurring in traditional stage design", in 1923 he worked for the Theatre Guild in New York as an assistant stage manager and bit actor.Mielziner's Broadway debut as a designer was in 1927 with The Guardsman, for which he designed the scenery and lighting. His other Broadway credits include the original productions of Sweet and Low , Of Thee I Sing , Another Part of the Forest , Winterset , Oh, Captain! , Dodsworth , Strange Interlude , Carousel , South Pacific , Guys and Dolls , The King and I , A Streetcar Named Desire , Death of a Salesman , Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , Gypsy , and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie , as well as the film Picnic and the ballet Who Cares? . He won the Academy Award for best color art direction for his work on Picnic.
During World War II, Mielziner worked as a camouflage specialist with the United States Air Force, until he was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, where he served under General William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan.
In the course of his career, Mielziner won seven Tony Awards and was nominated for another five.He also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design. His influence extended outside of the theatre. He was acquainted with the American artist Edward Hopper, who is said to have modeled his well-known painting Early Sunday Morning (1930) after Mielziner's set for Elmer Rice's play Street Scene , produced in 1929.
Mielziner designed the theater at Wake Forest Universityand co-designed the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center with architect Eero Saarinen. He designed the setting for the Vatican Pavilion's showing of Michelangelo's Pietà at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
He resided for many years at The Dakotaand can be seen working in his studio in an exterior shot in the film Rosemary's Baby . He died on March 15, 1976, in a New York taxicab four days before his 75th birthday. He was rushing between meetings for The Baker's Wife, a musical for which he was designing.
Mielziner was of both Jewish and Christian ancestries, though he converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. He was married three times, all of which were tumultuous, though only two ended in divorce. His first wife, Marya Mannes, a literary critic he married in 1926, was unfaithful to him. Annie Laurie Jacques, an actress and Mielziner's second wife whom he married in 1932, had substance abuse problems. Though, as a Roman Catholic, he could not divorce his third wife, actress Jean MacIntyre, their relationship ended due to Mielziner's relationship with Sheen's private secretary. Mielziner and MacIntyre married in 1938, and were long-since separated at the time of death in 1976, despite still being legally married..
His scenic designs for the original production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman were re-created for the 2012 Broadway revival starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond. Director Mike Nichols said he felt he needed Mielziner's original set because it was "intimately connected with the way the play developed." He went on to say he has never seen anything "near as good in any of the productions of 'Salesman' because it's everything and nothing."
Summer and Smoke is a two-part, thirteen-scene play by Tennessee Williams, completed in 1948. He began working on the play in 1945 as Chart of Anatomy, derived from his short stories "Oriflamme" and the then-work-in-progress "Yellow Bird." The phrase "summer and smoke" probably comes from the Hart Crane poem "Emblems of Conduct" in the 1926 collection White Buildings. After a disappointing Broadway run in 1948, the play was a hit Off-Broadway in 1952. Williams continued to revise Summer and Smoke in the 1950s, and in 1964 he rewrote the play as The Eccentricities of a Nightingale.
Scenic design is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but in recent years, are mostly trained professionals, holding a B.F.A. or M.F.A. degrees in theater arts. Scenic designers design sets and scenery that aim to support the overall artistic goals of the production. There has been a consideration that scenic design is also production design; however, more accurately, it is a part of the visual production of a film or television.
United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, formerly known as United Scenic Artists of America (USAA), is an American labor union. It is a nationwide autonomous Local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. It organizes designers, artists, and craftspeople in the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The organization was part of International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, however it reaffiliated with IATSE in 1999. United Scenic Artists was organized to protect craft standards, working conditions and wages for the entertainment and decorative arts industries. The members of Local USA 829 are Artists and Designers working in film, theatre, opera, ballet, television, industrial shows, commercials and exhibitions. The current membership totals nearly 3,800. Local USA 829 establishes wages for designers and artists, and negotiates with employers the best possible terms and conditions of employment, as well as Health Insurance and Retirement benefits through employer contributions of Pension, Welfare, 401(k) and Annuity plans.
Robert Edmond "Bobby" Jones was an American scenic, lighting, and costume designer.
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Roger Morgan is a pioneer in the world of theatre design consulting. He became interested in theatre architecture while a student at Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as an assistant to the scenic designer Jo Mielziner who became the primary influence on his career. He is the Tony Award-winning lighting designer of over 200 plays on and off-Broadway and in regional theater. He founded Sachs Morgan Studio in 1976 to provide comprehensive theatre planning and design services to the performing arts community.
John Lee Beatty is an American scenic designer who has created set designs for more than 115 Broadway shows and has designed for other productions. He has won two Tony Awards, for Talley's Folly (1980) and The Nance (2013), and been nominated for 13 more, and he has won five Drama Desk Awards and been nominated for 10 others.
Howard Bay was an American scenic, lighting and costume designer for stage, opera and film. He won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design twice.
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Leland H. "Lee" Watson (1926 – December 8, 1989)7 was a Broadway and television lighting designer and theatre educator.5 His 1990 bio states that he worked "extensively in nearly all fields of lighting design."6
Tony Straiges is a scenic designer for the stage and ballet. He has designed the sets for 17 Broadway musicals, plays and specials. His sets "often have a sparse elegance or sense of fantasy about them." Robert Brustein said of Straiges: "Today, he is considered one of the visual poets of the stage." Straiges attended the Yale School of Drama at Yale University.
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Heidi Ettinger is an American theatre producer and set designer. She studied at Occidental College and the Yale School of Drama. She was the first woman to win a Tony Award for set design, which she won for the musical Big River. She has also won the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle awards and an Obie Award.
David Zinn is a costume and scenic designer based in New York, New York. He has been nominated seven times for the Tony Award for both his costume designs and scenic designs, winning one Best Scenic Design for a Play award for The Humans and one Best Scenic Design in a Musical award for Spongebob Squarepants. He has over 80 Off-Broadway credits in his lifetime.
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