Tambi Larsen, who received an Oscar for black-and-white art direction in 1955 for “The Rose Tattoo,” died March 24 in North Hollywood following a lengthy illness. He was 86.
Larsen was subsequently nominated four times for Academy Awards over the next 35 years and earned a British Film Academy award for “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” in an 1965.
Born in Bangalore, India, to a Danish missionary, he attended an American boarding school when he was 7 and later attended high school in Denmark. His parents forced him to attend the Royal College of Engineering, but his love of theater eventually brought him to America where he attended Yale Drama School. Later he became a U.S. citizen.
Working in Boston and New York theater, he created settings for several Broadway shows. During World War II, he broadcast news in English and Danish over the Voice of America for the Office of War Information in London. He was one of the first American citizens to enter Denmark after VE Day.
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He began his film career in 1946 as an assistant art director on the Paramount lot. His first assignment as a full art director came in 1953 on the Charlton Heston/Yma Sumac feature “The Secret of the Incas.”
A sampling of his credits includes “Artists and Models,” “The Scarlet Hour,” “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” “The Geisha Boy,” “The Five Pennies,” “Hud” (Oscar nominated), “The Disorderly Orderly,” “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” (Oscar nominated), “The Molly Maguires” (Oscar nominated) and “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”
Larsen wrapped up his career with three Westerns: “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” “Circle of Iron” and “Heaven’s Gate,” for which he received his final Academy Award nomination.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.
Contributions in Larsen’s name can be made to Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center, 10425 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601, or to the Assistance League of Southern California Day Care Center, 221 S. 6th St., Burbank, CA 91501.