Emmy-winning production designer Edward Stephenson died Feb. 28 in the Hollywood Hills of Alzheimer’s-related complications. He was 94.
Stephenson started in television as a staff designer at NBC, where he designed for “The Betty White Show,” “The Danny Kaye Show” and was awarded his first Emmy for “An Evening With Fred Astaire” in 1958. He won a second Emmy for producing “The Andy Williams Show” and was also nominated for the show’s art direction.
A long relationship with Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear led to Stephenson producing the “All in the Family” pilot for the team’s Tandem Productions, as well as designing “Maude” and “Sanford and Son.” He also took on designing TV movies for PBS and Showtime, among others, and won his third Emmy for production design on “Soap” in 1977. Stephenson’s last Emmy nomination was for art direction on “The Golden Girls” pilot in 1985, but he continued to work through the ’90s on shows such as “Blossom.” Additional credits include art director on “Good Times,” “What’s Happening!” and the 1965 TV production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” on CBS.
Later, his love for set decoration led him to create the Hollywood Studio Gallery, a collection of original and reproduced art used in television and movies that is located at the former Technicolor laboratories.
After graduating from the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theater, Stephenson spent the 1930s and ’40s as a director, art director and producer for theaters nationwide. He served in the U.S. Air Force during WWII, where he was appointed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff as director of entertainment and music. Later, he would draft the manual of procedures for worldwide USO and Army entertainment programs.
Survivors include his daughter, Tara, a set decorator on “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “That ’70s Show” and “Greek,” among others.