Alvin Colt

Designer

Male

Died: May 4, 2008
New York, New York

Alvin Colt, who had one of the most enduring careers of any costume designer on Broadway, and won a Tony Award for the 1955 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Pipe Dream, died May 4, 2008, at a Manhattan hospital, according to his press representative. He was 92. Mr. Colt designed costumes for more than 50 Broadway productions, earning additional Tony nominations for his designs for Phoenix '55, The Lark, Li'l Abner, The Sleeping Prince and Greenwillow. He also designed over 15 shows for Off-Broadway's Phoenix Theatre.

Mr. Colt made his Broadway debut in the early 1940s, designing costumes for the original production of the Leonard Bernstein-Adolph Green-Betty Comden musical On the Town in 1944. About that production, Mr. Colt told Playbill.com in September 2006, "It was a big hit and it got me going on Broadway. I had done a lot of things with the ballet before that. I had worked with all the On the Town people before in ballet like Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Oliver Smith. That started it all off."

A handle of lackluster Broadway projects followed his success on On the Town. But a few years later, the creative team of Guys and Dolls recalled Mr. Colt's work on On the Town when the costume designer for their soon-to-be-legendary show wasn't working out.

Obituary: "At first Guys and Dolls was designed by someone else and it wasn't working. Then someone, I think it was Abe Burrows, said 'Get the guy from On the Town.' In Guys and Dolls, the characters were meant to look like New York people, street people. They weren't all jazzed up." The Frank Loesser musical fable, in which the gangsters and hoodlums were clad in pin-striped suits of exaggerated character, became one of Mr. Colt's most memorable credits. Mr. Colt was the last surviving major member of the Guys and Dolls creative team.

Mr. Colt also employed his skills Off-Broadway when that branch of the New York theatre was just getting started. He was a charter member of the Phoenix Theater, which performed classics and experimental new works out of an old Yiddish theatre on Second Avenue. There, he worked with the likes of Tyrone Guthrie, Sidney Lumet, Uta Hagen and Montgomery Clift.

Mr. Colt's final Broadway design credit was for the short-lived Renée Taylor and Joe Bologna play, If you ever leave me...I'm going with you!, in summer 2001. His other costume design credits included the Broadway productions of Around the World, Barefoot Boy with Cheek, Music in My Heart, Top Banana, Fanny, Finian's Rainbow, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Sleeping Prince, First Impressions, Destry Rides Again, Wildcat, Here's Love, The Crucible, The Imaginary Invalid, The Goodbye People, Sugar, Lorelei, Jerome Robbins' Broadway and Waiting in the Wings, among others. During his final years in the business, he was frequently employed by producer Alexander H. Cohen.

For 15 years Mr. Colt designed numerous editions of the long-running Off-Broadway revue, Forbidden Broadway. "I enjoy it," he told Playbill.com about his work on the Gerard Alessandrini productions. "It keeps me going. Most of my collaborators are all doing their shows up in heaven or someplace. I don't know a lot of the current bunch and they don't know me. Designers go in cycles. Sometimes they're popular and sometimes they're not. It's part of the crazy business we're in." He received Drama Desk nominations in 1999 and 2005 for his Forbidden designs.

Mr. Colt turned to the theatre for solace early on in his life. "As a little boy, I had my toy theatre in the attic of our house in Kentucky," he said in 2006. "I lost both my mother and father at a young age, but I did have a brother and he knew I wanted to do something in the theatre. So I ended up going to Yale for design. I thought I wanted to be a set designer. I didn't have a BA, so I never got an MA, but I was there for three years. Then I went straight to New York."

His first job was with a theatrical fabric house. He made fifteen dollars a week with commission. He worked summer theatre, painting and holding scenery. One summer he worked with a ballet company and he became interested in costuming.

Mr. Colt also designed for TV and film, although his theatre output was more prolific. Among his screen credits are costume designs for the films "Top Banana," "Stiletto" and "Li'l Abner" and for the TV productions of "The Enchanted Nutcracker," "Kiss Me Kate," "The Adams Chronicles," "The 30th Annual Tony Awards," "CBS: On the Air" and "Happy 100th Birthday, Hollywood."

In 2007 the Museum of the City of New York offered the exhibition "Costumes and Characters: The Designs of Alvin Colt," and the Museum is now the home of the his many costume sketches. Mr. Colt was also the recipient of the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001.

Playbill.com will provide information about a memorial service when it becomes available.

 

Roles

Playbill Cover - If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going with You! If You Ever Leave Me...I'm Going with You!
Aug. 6, 2001 - Sep. 23, 2001
Costume Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Waiting in the Wings Waiting in the Wings
Dec. 16, 1999 - May 28, 2000
Costume Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The Herbal Bed The Herbal Bed
Apr. 16, 1998 - Apr. 26, 1998
Costume Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Sacrilege Sacrilege
Nov. 2, 1995 - Nov. 19, 1995
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Comedy Tonight Comedy Tonight
Dec. 18, 1994 - Dec. 25, 1994
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Accomplice Accomplice
Apr. 26, 1990 - Jun. 10, 1990
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Jerome Robbins' Broadway Jerome Robbins' Broadway
Feb. 26, 1989 - Sep. 1, 1990
Costume Design ("On The Town")
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 40th Annual Tony Awards - 1986 The 40th Annual Tony Awards - 1986
Jun. 1, 1986 - Jun. 1, 1986
Costumes
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The 39th Annual Tony Awards - 1985 The 39th Annual Tony Awards - 1985
Jun. 2, 1985 - Jun. 2, 1985
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 37th Annual Tony Awards - 1983 The 37th Annual Tony Awards - 1983
Jun. 5, 1983 - Jun. 5, 1983
Costumes
(Original)
 
Parade of Stars Playing the Palace
May 2, 1983 - May 2, 1983
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 36th Annual Tony Awards - 1982 The 36th Annual Tony Awards - 1982
Jun. 6, 1982 - Jun. 6, 1982
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 35th Annual Tony Awards - 1981 The 35th Annual Tony Awards - 1981
Jun. 7, 1981 - Jun. 7, 1981
Costume Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Broadway Follies Broadway Follies
Mar. 15, 1981 - Mar. 15, 1981
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 34th Annual Tony Awards - 1980 The 34th Annual Tony Awards - 1980
Jun. 8, 1980 - Jun. 8, 1980
Costume Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Roast The Roast
May 8, 1980 - May 11, 1980
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 33rd Annual Tony Awards - 1979 The 33rd Annual Tony Awards - 1979
Jun. 3, 1979 - Jun. 3, 1979
Costume Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 32nd Annual Tony Awards - 1978 The 32nd Annual Tony Awards - 1978
Jun. 4, 1978 - Jun. 4, 1978
Costume Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 30th Annual Tony Awards - 1976 The 30th Annual Tony Awards - 1976
Apr. 18, 1976 - Apr. 18, 1976
Costume Designer
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - The 29th Annual Tony Awards - 1975 The 29th Annual Tony Awards - 1975
Apr. 20, 1975 - Apr. 20, 1975
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 28th Annual Tony Awards - 1974 The 28th Annual Tony Awards - 1974
Apr. 21, 1974 - Apr. 21, 1974
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Lorelei Lorelei
Jan. 27, 1974 - Nov. 3, 1974
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 27th Annual Tony Awards - 1973 The 27th Annual Tony Awards - 1973
Mar. 25, 1973 - Mar. 25, 1973
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 26th Annual Tony Awards - 1972 The 26th Annual Tony Awards - 1972
Apr. 23, 1972 - Apr. 23, 1972
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Sugar Sugar
Apr. 9, 1972 - Jun. 23, 1973
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The 25th Annual Tony Awards - 1971 The 25th Annual Tony Awards - 1971
Mar. 28, 1971 - Mar. 28, 1971
Costumes
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Goodbye People The Goodbye People
Dec. 3, 1968 - Dec. 7, 1968
Costume Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Golden Rainbow Golden Rainbow
Feb. 4, 1968 - Jan. 11, 1969
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Henry, Sweet Henry Henry, Sweet Henry
Oct. 23, 1967 - Dec. 31, 1967
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Tonight at 8:30
May 3, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Costume Design
(Original)
 
    Costume Design
(Original)
 
    Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - A Touch of the Poet A Touch of the Poet
May 2, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Imaginary Invalid The Imaginary Invalid
May 1, 1967 - May 13, 1967
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Paisley Convertible The Paisley Convertible
Feb. 11, 1967 - Feb. 18, 1967
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Something More! Something More!
Nov. 10, 1964 - Nov. 21, 1964
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Crucible The Crucible
Apr. 6, 1964 - May 2, 1964
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Seagull The Seagull
Apr. 5, 1964 - May 2, 1964
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Here's Love Here's Love
Oct. 3, 1963 - Jul. 25, 1964
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Beauty Part The Beauty Part
Dec. 26, 1962 - Mar. 9, 1963
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Aspern Papers The Aspern Papers
Feb. 7, 1962 - Apr. 28, 1962
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - 13 Daughters 13 Daughters
Mar. 2, 1961 - Mar. 25, 1961
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Wildcat Wildcat
Dec. 16, 1960 - Jun. 3, 1961
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Christine
Apr. 28, 1960 - May 8, 1960
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Greenwillow Greenwillow
Mar. 8, 1960 - May 28, 1960
Costume Design
(Original)
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - Destry Rides Again Destry Rides Again
Apr. 23, 1959 - Jun. 18, 1960
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - First Impressions First Impressions
Mar. 19, 1959 - May 30, 1959
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Say, Darling Say, Darling
Apr. 3, 1958 - Jan. 17, 1959
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Blue Denim
Feb. 27, 1958 - Jul. 19, 1958
Costume Design
(Original)
 
The Infernal Machine
Feb. 3, 1958 - Mar. 9, 1958
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Rumple Rumple
Nov. 6, 1957 - Dec. 14, 1957
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Copper and Brass Copper and Brass
Oct. 17, 1957 - Nov. 16, 1957
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Mary Stuart
Oct. 8, 1957 - Nov. 24, 1957
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Livin' the Life
Apr. 27, 1957 - May 19, 1957
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Li'l Abner Li'l Abner
Nov. 15, 1956 - Jul. 12, 1958
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Diary of a Scoundrel
Nov. 4, 1956 - Nov. 25, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Sleeping Prince The Sleeping Prince
Nov. 1, 1956 - Dec. 22, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
The Littlest Revue
May 22, 1956 - Jun. 17, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
A Month in the Country
Apr. 3, 1956 - May 13, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Miss Julie and The Stronger
Feb. 21, 1956 - Mar. 18, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
    Costume Design
(Original)
 
Six Characters in Search of an Author
Dec. 11, 1955 - Feb. 5, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Pipe Dream Pipe Dream
Nov. 30, 1955 - Jun. 30, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Lark The Lark
Nov. 17, 1955 - Jun. 2, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
The Carefree Tree
Oct. 11, 1955 - Oct. 30, 1955
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Phoenix '55 Phoenix '55
May 23, 1955 - Jul. 17, 1955
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Finian's Rainbow
May 18, 1955 - May 29, 1955
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Guys and Dolls Guys and Dolls
Apr. 20, 1955 - May 31, 1955
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Fanny Fanny
Nov. 4, 1954 - Dec. 16, 1956
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Golden Apple The Golden Apple
Apr. 20, 1954 - Aug. 7, 1954
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Madam, Will You Walk
Dec. 1, 1953 - Jan. 10, 1954
Costumes Supervised
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - The Frogs of Spring The Frogs of Spring
Oct. 21, 1953 - Oct. 31, 1953
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Top Banana Top Banana
Nov. 1, 1951 - Oct. 4, 1952
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Guys and Dolls
Nov. 24, 1950 - Nov. 28, 1953
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Clutterbuck Clutterbuck
Dec. 3, 1949 - Jun. 10, 1950
Costumes Supervisor
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Music in My Heart Music in My Heart
Oct. 2, 1947 - Jan. 24, 1948
Scenic Design
(Original)
 
    Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Barefoot Boy with Cheek Barefoot Boy with Cheek
Apr. 3, 1947 - Jul. 5, 1947
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - Around the World Around the World
May 31, 1946 - Aug. 3, 1946
Costume Design
(Original)
 
Playbill Cover - On the Town On the Town
Dec. 28, 1944 - Feb. 2, 1946
Costume Design
(Original)
 
 

Awards


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1999 Outstanding Costume Design Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act! Nominee

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1960 Costume Design (Play or Musical) Greenwillow Nominee
1957 Costume Design (Play or Musical) The Sleeping Prince Nominee
1957 Costume Design (Play or Musical) Li'l Abner Nominee
1956 Costume Design (Play or Musical) The Lark Nominee
1956 Costume Design (Play or Musical) Phoenix '55 Nominee
1956 Costume Design (Play or Musical) Pipe Dream Winner
 
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