What wonderful work. I like that her doggy was part of her work life,too.
Source: The Film Experience
Theadora Van Runkle (1929-2011)
Take off those berets and fedoras and pay your respects. The great
costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, a three time Oscar nominee, passed
away this past Friday of lung cancer at 83 years of age [src]. For those who
don't immediately connect her name to her movies, know that her work was
Her most famous creations were actually those done on her very first feature
Bonnie & Clyde (1967). She was able to do the picture only after Warren
Beatty and the costume designers guild president screamed at each other for
half an hour (she was not a guild member then) according to Mark Harris's
invaluable tome Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and The Birth of New
Hollywood. She had never done a film and at one tense point admitted to
Warren Beatty that she had no idea what she was doing.
After Beatty vetoed her first period-specific ideas, she came up with the
now legendary out of time ensembles that nodded to both the 1930s (when
the story takes place) and contemporary 60s French New Wave that the
project had always hoped to emulate (Beatty had originally wanted François
Truffaut himself to direct).
You see people who are great beauties and never get anywhere. This was style."
Theadora Van Runkle on Dunaway as Bonnie.
Van Runkle even claims that she was the one who brought the unknown
Faye Dunaway to Beatty & director Arthur Penn's attention. "There's the girl
you should cast!" though there are competing legends as to how Dunaway
first came up in the long search for the girl.
Because of the tight budget, many of the costumes worn by other
characters weren't actually Van Runkle's designs but costuming the titular
pair was enough to win her a permanent place in movie history and her first
Oscar nomination. She was later nominated for both The Godfather Part Two
(1974) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).
Those Oscar nominated movies were hardly the only memorable gigs. Other
showy movies included the infamously delirious transgendered farce Myra
Breckenridge (1970), the ill-fated Mame (1974), the post-war romantic
drama New York New York (1977) and the bawdy gaudy musical The Best
Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).
I'll always have a special place in my heart for her work on Peggy Sue Got
Married. I love that too-shiny / too-tight gown that Peggy Sue is proud she
can still fit into at her 25th reunion. Like Bonnie, Peggy Sue is straddling two
eras, this time literally; a lovely mirage of the past clinging to a totally
Good night and thank you, Theadora.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Theadora Van Runkle dies at 83; noted Hollywood costume designer
Theadora Van Runkle's influence spanned four decades and a
range of movie genres. She was catapulted to fame by her work on 'Bonnie
November 08, 2011|By Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times
Hollywood costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, whose influence spanned
four decades and a range of movie genres including period pieces like "Bonnie
and Clyde" — which earned her the first of three Academy Award
nominations — and over-the-top comedies like 1989's "Troop Beverly Hills,"
has died. She was 83.
Van Runkle died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of lung
cancer, the Costume Designers Guild announced.
Born March 27, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Van Runkle made connections in the
entertainment industry not long after that. "She came out here as a baby,"
her son Max said, "when her mother came out here to try and make it in
Van Runkle attended the Chouinard Institute in Los Angeles, and for seven
years in the late 1950s and early '60s worked at the May Co., illustrating
fashion ads. In a 1999 interview with The Times, Van Runkle said she was
"at the end of [her] rope as a commercial artist" when she met Oscar-
winning costume designer Dorothy Jeakins at a party.
"Dorothy told me she needed a sketch artist," Van Runkle said. "And the
next day I went to work for her." That was on the movie "Hawaii."
Later, Jeakins recommended Van Runkle for a job she had turned down and
that she described as "a little western over at Warner Bros." That little
western turned out to be 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde," a film debut that earned
Van Runkle an Academy Award nomination (she lost to "Camelot" costume
designer John Truscott) and a Golden Tiberius award from the Italian fashion
industry and catapulted her to fame.
"I'd never designed anything before," Van Runkle told The Times in 1999.
"But I knew fashion. I knew style. I knew construction. I sewed by hand
and by machine. I learned construction from Vogue patterns."
For Faye Dunaway's Bonnie Parker, Van Runkle went with a now-iconic look
epitomized by the long cardigan sweater or silk blouse paired with a narrow
skirt and topped with a beret — the midi-skirt look — that went on to
become a huge trend. Likewise with Warren Beatty's Clyde Barrow and his
double-breasted, wide-lapel suits.
The next year, Van Runkle again dressed Dunaway for "The Thomas Crown
Affair," putting her in some 31 costumes over the course of the heist flick,
including mini-skirts, big-belted suits, double-breasted coats, punch-
bowl-sized hats and a revealing backless, bra-less chiffon creation. For the
same film she worked with Ron Postal to dress co-star Steve McQueen in
dashing three-piece suits, accessorized with Persol tortoise sunglasses and
Patek Philippe watches.
Van Runkle also dressed Dunaway off-screen, perhaps most memorably for
the 1968 Academy Awards ceremony — when Dunaway was nominated for
best actress for her portrayal of Bonnie Parker.
Two other films from Van Runkle's long costume design career earned her
Oscar nominations: 1974's "The Godfather: Part II" and 1986's "Peggy Sue
Got Married." Another 1974 film she worked on — the hat-heavy "Mame" —
earned her the American Millinery Institute's Golden Crown Award.
Over the course of her career, she created costumes for actors and movies
as diverse as Dolly Parton in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," Steve
Martin in "The Jerk," and Shelley Long in "Troop Beverly Hills," a film filled
with all manner of memorable, over-the-top costumes.
Other movies to her credit include the hippie romp "I Love You, Alice B.
Toklas!," "Bullitt," "Myra Breckenridge" and "Heaven Can Wait."
Van Runkle earned a 1983 Emmy for outstanding costume design for a series
for a very different sort of period piece — the medieval-themed television
show "Wizards and Warriors" — and in 2002 she received the Costume
Designer Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award.
She is survived by son Max, daughter Felicity and grandson Teo.
Services are pending.
Source: The New York Times
Theadora Van Runkle, Costume Designer, Dies at 83
Theadora Van Runkle, a self-taught costume designer who earned an Oscar
nomination for her first picture, “Bonnie and Clyde,” and whose signature
outfit for Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker — beret, calf-length skirt and
sweater — ignited a fashion trend on the film’s release in 1967, died on
Friday in Los Angeles. She was 83.
The cause was lung cancer, her son, Max Van Runkle, said.
A commercial artist who fell into costuming by chance, Ms. Van Runkle was
known for designs that combined Hollywood glamour with historical fealty.
Over three decades she dressed some of the screen’s best-known stars,
including Julie Andrews and William Holden in “S.O.B.” (1981), Steve
McQueen in “Bullitt“ (1968) and Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro in “New
York, New York” (1977).
Ms. Van Runkle’s work was associated in particular with Ms. Dunaway, whom
she also costumed in “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968; miniskirts this time)
and “The Arrangement” (1969).
She received two more Academy Award nominations, for “The Godfather:
Part II” (1974), starring Al Pacino, and “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986),
starring Kathleen Turner.
The daughter of Eltsey Adair and Courtney Schweppe, a son of the
Schweppes carbonated-drink family, Dorothy Schweppe was born in
Pittsburgh on March 27, 1928. Her parents, who were unmarried, did
not stay together, and as an infant Dorothy moved to California with
She began calling herself Theadora in her early 20s, and as a young woman
was a department-store fashion illustrator. In the 1960s she worked briefly
as a sketch artist for Dorothy Jeakins, an Oscar-winning Hollywood costume
Ms. Jeakins let her go after only a month (artistic envy may have been
involved, Ms. Van Runkle said in interviews afterward), but later telephoned
with an offer of work.
“I’ve just been asked to do a little western over at Warner Brothers,” Ms.
Jeakins told her, “and I recommended you.” The “little western” was “Bonnie
Ms. Van Runkle was terrified, she later recalled, for she had never designed
a costume. But she liked history and she liked to sew, and both stood her
in good stead.
Many of Clyde’s suits in the film — chalk-striped, double-breasted 1930s
numbers — she took from an archival image of Pretty Boy Floyd.
For Bonnie, Ms. Van Runkle created outfits that were fluid, looked as though
they could be packed fast should the wearer need to go on the lam, and
were suffused with tomboy sexuality. But because they were deliberately
unfancy, they required a bit of a sales job.
“Faye thought I didn’t care how she looked,” Ms. Van Runkle told The Globe
and Mail of Canada in 1989. “Faye thought I was trying to make her ugly.”
Ms. Van Runkle’s other films include “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!” (1968),
“Myra Breckinridge” (1970), “Nickelodeon” (1976) and “The Best Little
Whorehouse in Texas” (1982).
She won an Emmy Award in 1983 for her work on the CBS fantasy series
“Wizards and Warriors.”
Ms. Van Runkle’s first marriage, to Robert Van Runkle, ended in divorce, as
did her second, to Bruce McBroom. A resident of Los Angeles, she is survived
by two children from her first marriage, Max and Felicity Van Runkle; and a
Had Ms. Van Runkle heeded the advice of Hollywood’s grande dame of
design, her work on “Bonnie and Clyde” might have been forgotten long ago.
As she later recounted, she was shopping nervously for the film in Beverly
Hills when she ran into Edith Head, costumer to the stars and holder of a
spate of Oscars.
“She said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Ms. Van Runkle recalled.
“I said, ‘It’s the ’30s and they’re escaping from a bank robbery.’ ”
“She said: ‘Oh darling, do everything in chiffon. You’ll have no problems.’ ”
Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.
What wonderful work. I like that her doggy was part of her work life,too.
I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West
Great you introduced her in this forum. Never heard of her. But she seems to be a very extravagant, outstanding person.
Love her designs, her look and her dog :-)
And Theadora is such a beautiful name too.
isn't that also vanilla ice's real name?
Faye Dunaway is stunningly beautiful in that picture. Hilary Duff sort of resembles her.
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