Worked with Streisand, Garland, Ross
Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated costume designer Ray Aghayan, whose work appeared on Oscarcasts, at the 1984 Summer Olympics and draping the likes of Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews and Diana Ross, died Monday of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 83.
The Iranian-born Aghayan won a Tony in 1970 for his costume designs on the musical “Applause,” starring Lauren Bacall, and worked on a number of other Broadway shows, including 1974’s “Lorelei,” for which he designed the costumes for star Carol Channing. (He also designed for Channing in the 1969 TV special “Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey: On Broadway.”)
Aghayan won the first of three Emmys (he was nominated seven times) in 1967 for a production of “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” picking up the first Emmy ever awarded for costume design, shared with Bob Mackie. (Mackie began as Aghayan’s assistant but eventually became not only his life partner but a celebrated designer for his own list of luminaries.) Aghayan’s second Emmy came in 1987 for the special “Diana Ross: Red Hot Rhythm and Blues”; he was designing for Ross until recently.
The designer’s third Emmy came in 1992, when he won for “The 64th Annual Academy Awards.” He designed for the Oscars more than a dozen times and picked up a total of five Emmy noms (one shared with Mackie) for his efforts, the last in 1997.
Aghayan’s successful collaboration with Mackie continued on the bigscreen. He was Oscar nominated for “Gaily, Gaily” in 1970; shared a nom with Mackie and Norma Koch for Ross starrer “Lady Sings the Blues” in 1973; and shared another with Mackie in 1976 for “Funny Lady,” in which the pair designed for Streisand.
For the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Aghayan designed the costumes for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Earlier in his career Aghayan did the costume designs for the noted 1958 special “An Evening With Fred Astaire”; for Betty Hutton in “The Betty Hutton Show”; for Dinah Shore and Garland in their respective TV shows; and for Doris Day in her films “Do Not Disturb,” “The Glass Bottom Boat” and “Caprice.”
Other film credits include “The Art of Love,” “Our Man Flint” and its sequel and “Doctor Dolittle.”
Gorgen Ray Aghayan was born in Tehran; his Armenian family was rich, but his father died when he was young. His mother, however, was a designer for the royal court in Iran, and Aghayan designed his first dress at 13, for a member of that court. He eventually asked his mother to send him to California.
Aghayan had an uncredited role in the movie “Kismet” in 1955, and he also exec produced the telepic “The Tenth Month (1979) and produced the telepic “Consenting Adult” (1985).
He was honored by the Costume Designers Guild with a lifetime achievement award in 2008.
Aghayan is survived by Mackie.