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Oscar-nominated set decorator Garrett Lewis dies at 77

Drew noms for 'Beaches,' 'Glory,' 'Hook,' 'Dracula'

Garrett Lewis, a four-time Oscar-nominated set decorator who first spent decades as a dancer and actor, died of natural causes at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Jan. 29. He was 77.

Lewis worked on 39 films as a set decorator. He shared nominations for four Academy Awards for art direction — for “Beaches,” “Glory,” “Hook” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work on “Geppetto” in 2000. His creations ranged from Civil War tents for “Glory” to lavish Bugatti-inspired furniture for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” His other film credits include “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Pretty Woman,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Backdraft,” “Hidalgo,” “Against All Odds” and, most recently, 2007’s “Georgia Rule.”

He began his career as a set decorator fairly late in life, after decades as a dancer and actor.

On Broadway, he appeared in “My Fair Lady,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “Vintage ’60” and “First Impressions.”

Lewis played the role of Cornelius in “Hello, Dolly!” opposite five different leading ladies, including on a national tour with Carol Channing and in London with Mary Martin.

Lewis was a featured performer on “The Red Skelton Show” and “The Julie Andrews Hour.” Aside from his television work, which included a variety of network shows, he appeared extensively in nightclubs, supporting such leading ladies as Anna Maria Alberghetti, Arlene Dahl and Dorothy Provine. He was a soloist in the Lido Show in Paris and appeared as the male lead in “Little Mary Sunshine in Paris.”

Lewis transitioned into film and appeared in both “Star!,” with Julie Andrews, and “Funny Lady.”

In the mid-’70s, Lewis’ friends, agent Sue Mengers and her husband Jean-Claude Tramont, asked him to redesign their newly purchased Bel Air home after admiring the way he’d decorated his own home. Segueing into a second career, Lewis was soon designing private homes for celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Herbert Ross and Barry Diller .

In the late 1970s, when 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; though his title on that film was pictorial consultant, his third career as a set decorator for films was launched.

A native of St. Louis, Lewis began in show business while still in college when he was offered the dance lead for a season at the Kansas City Starlight Theater.

Lewis was a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences who served on the executive committee for the art director’s branch.

A memorial is currently being planned. Please contact gl_memorial@earthlink.net for further information.

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