Stage Veteran Garrett Lewis Passes Away at 77
Tuesday, February 5, 2013; 02:02 PM - by BWW News Desk
Garrett Lewis, four time Academy Award nominated set decorator, dancer and actor, died Tuesday, January 29 at the age of 77. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1935 and died at his home in Woodland Hills, California of natural causes.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Garrett Lewis had a long and storied career as a dancer, actor and set decorator. His career began while still in college when he was offered the dance lead for a season at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre. After that one season of summer stock, he went to New York and immediately landed his first Broadway show My Fair Lady. This was followed by numerous roles in Broadway productions including Hello Dolly, Vintage '60 and First Impressions.
Lewis played the role of Cornelius in Hello Dolly starring opposite five different leading ladies. First, he went on national tour with Carol Channing. Hello Dolly was the first stage show at the newly opened Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1965. He reprised the role with Mary Martin in London. Hello Dolly made its premiere in the West End at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on December 2, 1965, with the Queen Mother in attendancE. Lewis also performed this role opposite Carole Cook, Dora Bryan and Patrice Munsel in various productions of the show.
Lewis was a featured performer on The Red Skelton Show and The Julie Andrews Hour. Aside from his television work, which included many major network shows at the time on both coasts, he appeared extensively in clubs across the country, supporting such leading ladies as Anna Maria Alberghetti, Arlene Dahl, Dorothy Provine and others. He was a soloist in The Lido Show in Paris, and appeared as the male lead in Little Mary Sunshine in Paris. Garrett transitioned into film and appeared in both Star! with Julie Andrews and Funny Lady.
By the time Lewis finished Funny Lady in 1975, musicals were becoming rare. Lewis' friends, agent Sue Mengers and her husband Jean-Claude Tramont, purchased a home in Bel Air in 1975. They admired the way Lewis had decorated his own home, and asked him to redesign their new one. This lead Lewis to designing private homes for celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Herbert Ross, Barry Diller and many others. He effortlessly segued into a second career.
In the late seventies when Herbert Ross was directing The Turning Point he asked Lewis to decorate several sets. Later while filming California Suite, Ross called him in again to assist with the art direction. While his title was "Pictorial Consultant", his third career as a set decorator for films was launched.
Lewis worked on 39 films as a set decorator. He was nominated for four Academy Awards for Art Direction - Beaches, Glory, Hook and Bram Stoker's Dracula. He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work on Gepetto. He created everything from civil war tents for Glory to lavish Bugatti inspired furniture for Bram Stoker's Dracula, a particularly special film for him. His film credits include Mrs. Doubtfire, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias, Backdraft, Hidalgo, Against All Odds, as well as countless others. His work as a set decorator took him to Morocco, Canada and all parts of the United States. He loved his work. A longtime member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, he proudly served on the Executive Committee for the Art Director's branch.
A memorial is currently being planned. Please contact gl_me...@earthlink.net for further information.
Born: 1935, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 1/29/2013, Woodland Hills, California, U.S.A.
Garrett Lewis’ westerns – actor, set decorator:
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys – 1969 (Hawkins)
Hidalgo – 1964 [set decorator]