Peter Larkin, Noted Broadway and Hollywood Production Designer, Dies at 93

Peter Larkin, Noted Broadway and Hollywood Production Designer, Dies at 93

18 Dec 2019 (PT)
HOLLYWOOD

The four-time Tony winner had credits including Mary Martin's 'Peter Pan,' 'No Time for Sergeants,' 'Tootsie' and 'Three Men and a Baby.'

Peter Larkin, the four-time Tony winner who designed the sets for the original Broadway productions of  Peter Pan,  The Teahouse of the August Moon and  No Time for Sergeants and for films including  Tootsie and  Get Shorty, has died. He was 93.

Larkin died Monday after a brief illness at his home in Bridgehampton, New York, his stepson, screenwriter Wesley Strick Arachnophobia,  The Man in the High Castle, told  The Hollywood Reporter.

A native of Boston who attended the Deerfield Academy and Yale, Larkin was the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Oliver Waterman Larkin. 

After making his Broadway debut on Henrik Ibsen's  The Wild Duck in 1951, Larkin went to work on  Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, starring Mary Martin, when it was in tryouts in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the summer of 1954.

Produced by Edward Lester and choreographed by Jerome Robbins,  Peter Pan premiered on Broadway in October of that year. Five months later, his sets and a flying Martin were seen live — and in color — on NBC, attracting a then-record 65 million viewers.

Nominated for 10 Tonys for scenic design during his illustrious career, Larkin won twice in 1954, for his work on  Ondine, directed by Alfred Lunt and starring Audrey Hepburn, and for the best play winner  Teahouse of the August Moon, starring John Forsythe and David Wayne. 

He won twice more in 1956, for  No Time for Sergeants, starring Andy Griffith, and  Inherit the Wind, starring Ed Begley. In the former, Larkin cleverly jolted theatergoers when he got all the toilet seats in the latrines to snap to attention for an inspecting officer.

His Broadway credits also included  Dial "M" for Murder,  Compulsion,  Miss Isobel,  Blue Denim and  Goldilocks in the 1950s;  Greenwillow and Arthur Miller's  The Crucible in the '60s;  Twigs,  Thieves and Bob Fosse's  Dancin' in the '70s; and  Doonesbury and  The Rink, starring Liza Minnelli, in the '80s.

David Hays, a scenic and lighting designer who is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, praised Larkin's work in his 2017 book,  Setting the Stage: What We Do, How We Do It, and Why.

Larkin "could take a dreary room, project the key message that the room was dreary, and at the same time give the audience something interesting to see," Hays wrote. "A plumbing pipe piercing a wall at a crazy place? Water damage? Obvious repairs or bad renovations that show a history and decline of the space? The point may be this: do not make the setting dull, but approach it as a space where you would not want to live."

Larkin arrived in Hollywood in the early 1980s, and his first movie credit came as production designer on  Nighthawks 1981, starring Sylvester Stallone. 

In addition to  Tootsie 1982 and  Get Shorty 1995, he worked with director Hugh Wilson on  Guarding Tess 1994 and  The First Wives Club 1996 and on other films including  Reuben, Reuben 1983,  Three Men and a Baby 1987,  The Secret of My Success 1987, Mel Brooks'  Life Stinks 1991,  Night and the City 1992, Barry Sonnenfeld's  For Love or Money 1993,  Major Payne 1995,  Maximum Bob 1998 and  Miss Congeniality 2000.

Larkin also designed sets for the Stratford Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut and the New York City Center Ballet.

He wife, painter Racelle Strick, died in 2008. Survivors include his stepdaughter, Ivy.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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Peter Larkin, Noted Broadway and Hollywood Production Designer, Dies at 93
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