Award-winning British designer and director Tony Walton dies aged 87

The Oscar winning director enjoyed a lengthy career in film, television and the stage and was famous for his work on Broadway in the US.

04 March 2022

Award-winning British director and production designer Tony Walton has died aged 87.

The Oscar-winning director enjoyed a career spanning five decades in film, television and the stage and was famous for his work on Broadway in the US.

His film work included Mary Poppins, The Boy Friend, The Wiz and Murder on the Orient Express, all of which earned him Academy Award nominations.

Walton won the Oscar for best art direction for Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz in 1979.

He has also been honoured with 16 Tony awards, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie for his work on Death of a Salesman in 1985.

Walton’s death was announced on his official website.

Among those paying tribute to Walton was Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, who wrote: “My friend Tony has left us.

“He directed me in EQUUS at @guild_hall a few years back. I assume he’s having lunch with Nichols now. Plotting.

“Rest In Peace, Tony.”

His step daughter Bridget LeRoy paid tribute to “the most fabulous stepdad and human being in the world”.

“Love you forever, Tony Walton. Have a great trip,” she wrote online.

Les Miserables Broadway star and original singing voice of Pocahontas Judy Kuhn said she felt “so lucky” that their paths crossed.

In a tweet, the 63-year-old added: “Oh Tony Walton. I am so so sad to hear of his passing. He was so brilliant and so kind. A true gentleman.”

Tony Award-winning actress Betty Buckley, 74, also paid tribute, tweeting that Walton was “such a lovely person & brilliant Designer”.

Walton was born Walton-on-Thames, in England, on October 24, 1935, and studied art and design at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Among many others his designs for Broadway included Bob Fosse’s original productions of Chicago and Pippin, Grand Hotel, Uncle Vanya, Guys and Dolls and Harold Pinter’s Moonlight and Ashes to Ashes.

He was the production designer for Madison Square Garden’s A Christmas Carol for 10 years as well as for Dame Julie Andrews’ 2003 revival of Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend.

Walton and Dame Julie, who were childhood sweethearts,  married in 1959 but remained friends following their divorce in 1968.

Julie Andrews and Tony Walton Wedding – Oatlands Church, Weybridge
Walton and Julie Andrews, who were childhood sweethearts,  married in 1959 but remained friends following their divorce in 1968 (PA Archive)

He was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1991.

Following the news of his passing The Museum Of Broadway paid tribute to the “brilliant” designer.

“We mourn the loss of celebrated designer, Tony Walton,” the official account tweeted.

“Tony was a brilliant scenic and costume designer whose work was seen on Broadway across five decades, winning three Tony Awards. Rest In Peace.”

As a producer, Walton co-presented six productions – plays and musicals – in London.

His designs for Opera have been seen at London’s Theatre Royal Covent Garden, The Sadler’s Wells Opera Company and throughout Europe and America.

Walton leaves behind his wife, author Genevieve LeRoy Walton, his two daughters, Emma Walton Hamilton and Bridget LeRoy, and five grandchildren.

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