Donald Brooks, Legendary Costume and Fashion Designer, Dies at 77
Donald Brooks, the award-winning fashion designer who created stage and screen costumes for such stars as Liza Minnelli, Diahann Carroll, Barbara Harris, Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, Carol Burnett, and Ethel Merman, died on August 1 in Long Island at the age of 77.
One of the country’s most influential sportswear designers for over 40 years, Brooks had a separate career designing costumes for more than 20 Broadway shows; he began by creating Diahann Carroll’s dresses for the 1962 musical No Strings, which earned him his only Tony Award nomination. Over the next two decades, his designs graced Fade In, Fade Out, Barefoot in the Park, Flora, the Red Menace, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Promises, Promises, the revival of Good News, and Carmelina. He also designed the gowns worn by Betty Comden in A Party with Betty Comden & Adolph Green.
Brooks was a three-time Oscar nominee even though he designed only a handful of films. Two of them, Star! and Darling Lili, starred Julie Andrews. Among his other film credits are The Cardinal, The Detective (starring Frank Sinatra), and The Bell Jar. The designer’s television work included the specials Merman on Broadway and Carol Channing’s Los Angeles; The Country Girl, starring Faye Dunaway; and a remake of the Bette Davis classic The Letter with Lee Remick, for which Brooks won an Emmy Award. His last project was the miniseries The Two Mrs. Grenvilles with Ann-Margret, Claudette Colbert, and Elizabeth Ashley (who had starred in Barefoot in the Park on Broadway).
Along with many of the actresses mentioned above, Brooks’ private clients included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Grace of Monaco, and Barbra Streisand. He was a founding member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Brooks won the Coty American Fashion Award three times and received the Parsons Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 1974. In 2003, his work was the subject of a major retrospective at the Parsons School of Design.
He is survived by his sister, Kay Blick. To read more about Donald Brooks, visit the website www.stardesigners.com.