×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gene Allen, Former Academy President, Dies at 97

Production designer Gene Allen, a former three-term president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (1983-1985) and an Oscar winner for his work on “My Fair Lady,” died on Wednesday, October 7, from natural causes. He was 97 and lived in Newport Beach, California.

In addition to his art direction Oscar for “My Fair Lady,” Allen received Oscar nominations for “A Star Is Born” (1955) and “Les Girls” (1958). In 1997 he received a Special Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild, where he served as executive director from 1970-1997. He had also served as a vice president of IATSE. He was a member of the Directors Guild of America, having worked as second unit director in addition to production designer for director George Cukor on “A Star Is Born.”

ADG executive director Scott Roth, who succeeded Allen in 1997, said, “Gene Allen displayed verve and brio in his 27 years leading the Art Directors Guild. Add to this his service as an IATSE vice president, president of the Motion Picture Academy, and his multiple Oscar nominations (and wins) for Art Direction and you’re looking at a protean career unlikely soon to be matched. He will be sorely missed by his many friends (including me) in the labor and entertainment communities.”

ADG president Mimi Gramatky added, “Painting until almost the last day of his life, Gene was a consummate artist, leader and award winner who made an enormous contribution to the field of production and art direction, for which we are eternally grateful. We will miss him very much.”

Popular on Variety

Other production designer credits included “At Long Last Love” (1975), “The Cheyenne Social Club” (1970) and “The Chapman Report” (1962). His art director credits included “Let’s Make Love,” “A Breath of Scandal” and “Heller in Pink Tights” (all in 1960), “Merry Andrew” (1958), “Les Girls” (1957), “Back From Eternity” and “Bhowani Junction” (both 1956).

He was hired by Warner Bros.’ art department in 1936 as an apprentice. When he was laid off, he followed his father, joining the Los Angeles Police Department. With the start of World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After the war he found work teaching at art colleges, eventually getting back into Hollywood when he was rehired by Warner Bros. as a sketch artist.

Allen was a recognized water color painter whose work was exhibited in many galleries, including at the Art Directors Guild’s own Gallery 800 in North Hollywood last year.

He is survived by his wife Iris and sons Pat and Mike. Details of a memorial service will be announced later.

More Film

  • Legendary Logo

    Legendary Invests in Library Pictures to Fund Local-Language Production

    Legendary Pictures has made an investment in Library Pictures International with plans to fund local-language productions. Library Pictures is a content-financing entity organized earlier this year by CAA Media Finance to support industry-leading filmmakers and distributors by investing in local-language production slates. As part of the deal, Legendary becomes part of a team at Library [...]

  • Knives and Skin

    Film Review: 'Knives and Skin'

    Jennifer Reeder’s “Knives and Skin” will test the limits of viewer patience. The positive qualities lie in the surrealistic film’s bold cinematography, distinctive use of music, and diversity of cast, though that’s not enough to redeem this tedious viewing experience. Following a festival run that began at the Berlinale, IFC Midnight is giving the film [...]

  • Frozen 2

    Women In Animation Celebrate a Banner Year

    When “Missing Link” producer Arianne Sutner began her career in the early 1990s, fresh out of college, she had a goal: Get a job working on a film set that didn’t involve doing craft service. Because, she says “as women, they were always kind of either intentionally or unintentionally pointing you in that direction.” After [...]

  • Laura DernIFP Gotham Awards 2019 -

    Palm Springs Festival to Honor Laura Dern With Career Achievement Award (EXCLUSIVE)

    The 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival has selected Laura Dern as the recipient of its Career Achievement Award. Dern will be honored at the festival awards gala on Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival runs Jan. 2-13. “Laura Dern is one of the most outstanding and talented actresses of [...]

  • American Cinematheque Charlize Theron

    Listen: How Charlize Theron Overcame Her Fear of Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron immediately didn’t jump at the chance to play controversial news anchor Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” the Jay Roach-directed drama about the downfall of late Fox News boss Roger Ailes’ downfall after he was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and harassment. “She wasn’t necessarily a person who I just could throw my [...]

  • From the film AMERICAN FACTORY

    Oscar Documentary Race Shaping Up to be Year of the Woman

    When it comes to the film industry’s non-fiction arm, 2019 has proven to be the year of the woman. Not only are females behind the majority of this year’s high-profile documentaries, they are also, thus far, dominating the non-fiction feature awards race. Case in point, six of the 10 best doc noms selected from 375 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content