SOURCE: Art Directors Guild

March 05, 2007 16:28 ET

Production Designer Harold Michelson Dies at Age of 87

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 5, 2007 -- Veteran motion picture Production Designer Harold Michelson, one of the icons in that craft and a two-time Academy-Award nominee (for "Terms of Endearment" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"), died at the Motion Picture & Television Fund home Friday, March 2, following a lingering illness. He was 87.

Michelson was presented the Art Directors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 and the Hollywood Film Festival's Outstanding Achievement in Production Design Award in 2002.

His other major credits as an Art Director and/or Production Designer include "Dick Tracy," "Spaceballs," "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," "Mommie Dearest," "Catch 22," "History of the World, Part I," "Johnny Got His Gun," "The Outside Man," "Hair," "Mame," "Pretty Poison," "Can't Stop the Music," "The Thousand Plane Raid" and "Two People." Michelson also worked as a visual consultant on "Matilda" and "The Fly."

Michelson was widely considered to be "the industry's greatest illustrator." Films he illustrated include "The Ten Commandments," "Cleopatra," "Ben Hur," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "The Graduate," "Irma La Douce," "West Side Story," "The Apartment," "The Birds," "Fiddler on the Roof," "A Star is Born," "From Here to Eternity," "Ship of Fools" and "The Turning Point."

Michelson was born in New York in 1920. His first job after graduating high school was with the Bureau of Printing in D.C. During World War II as a bombardier-navigator in the U.S. Air Force he flew more than 40 missions over Germany. Following the war he became an illustrator for magazines while attending art school at New York's Arts Students League. He then worked in Chicago and Los Angeles illustrating movie posters. His first studio job was as an apprentice illustrator for Columbia Pictures, which segued to his being traded to Paramount Pictures to do illustrations and storyboards for "The Ten Commandments." At Paramount he moved up the ranks to junior and then senior illustrator. He then moved on to MGM to work on "Ben Hur" and then to Universal to illustrate for "Spartacus." Michelson's career in art direction began with NBC's "Matinee Theater" and went on from there to CBS's "The Gomer Pyle Show" and "The Andy Griffith Show." In recent years he has been a consultant for Danny DeVito.

He is survived by his wife Lillian Michelson, who is considered to be the dean of motion picture research; his three sons Alan, Eric and Dennis, and two grandchildren Luca and Romeo.

A memorial service will be held March 6 at 2:00 PM at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills (5950 Forest Lawn Drive Los Angeles, CA 90068).

Note to media: a color image of Harold Michelson is available by contacting Jen Coyne-Hoerle at

Contact Information

    Murray Weissman
    Murray Weissman & Associates
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