Set decorator Gretchen Rau, who recently won the Oscar for art direction with production designer John Myhre for “Memoirs of a Geisha,” died of a brain tumor March 29 in Northport, New York. She was 66.
Born in New Orleans, she began her career in New York, working in the art department for “Atlantic City” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”
She shared an Oscar nom with art director Lilly Kilvert for “The Last Samurai.” Rau was set decorator on more than 30 films, including “Crocodile Dundee,” “A River Runs Through It,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Horse Whisperer” and “The Life Aquatic.”
Her most recent film was “The Good Shepherd,” directed by Robert de Niro, set to open at the end of the year.
Production designer Jeannine Oppewal, who worked with Rau on “The Good Shepherd” and “Rooftops,” said: “Gretchen was one of the most well respected and beloved set decorators in this country. She always said she ‘just loved her work’ in the film business, and her enthusiasms kept those around her buoyant in difficult times.”
John Myhre, production designer, said, “We had a lovely time on ‘Memoirs of a Geisha,’ a film we all enjoyed working on, and it was so important to all of us.”
She is survived by five children: George Pattison, a director of photography; Taylor Pattison, a propmaster; Anne Pattison, a makeup artist; Jean-Paul Menard, a set dresser and propmaker; and Stephanie Pattison; four grandchildren; a sister and a brother.
Donations may be made to the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk, 505 Main St., Northport, NY 11768.