Theoni V. Aldredge, the costume designer of the original stage version of "La Cage aux Folles" and "Annie" on Broadway, died Friday morning in Connecticut, according to the New York Times. She was 88.
The cause was cardiac arrest, her husband, the actor Tom Aldredge, said.
Considered one of the greatest costume designers of her era, Ms. Aldredge created the clothing for more than 300 stage and film productions, including "Gypsy," "A Chorus Line," "Dreamgirls" and "42nd Street." She won an Oscar in 1975 for "The Great Gatsby" with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and three Tony awards for "Barnum," "Annie" and "La Cage." In 1984, five shows running at the same time (including "La Cage") put 1,000 of her creations on stage at once.
"She made people look beautiful, which is a lot harder than you might think," said the costume designer Martin Pakledinaz. "She also had the ability to see a production as a whole, the way one number grew out of the previous number and led into the one after that."
Theoni Athanasiou Vachliotis was born on Aug. 22, 1922, in Salonika, Greece, and grew up in Athens. When she graduated from the American School in Athens in 1949, she had decided on theater as a career.
She enrolled at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago and, on her way, stopped in New York to attend a showing of the 1946 film "Caesar and Cleopatra." "A strange thing happened," she told The New Yorker in 1973. "I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the flowing garments worn by Vivien Leigh."
She added: "‘People can look so beautiful in clothes,' I said to myself. ‘There is a mystery to costume.' And that's when it started."
"She made her debut as a costume designer in 1950, creating the clothes for "The Distaff Side," a comedy by John Van Druten produced at the Goodman Theater, and within a few years was teaching costume design at the theater's school.," according to the article.
She also married Mr. Aldredge, an actor who was studying to become a director and who went on to make a successful career in New York. (He currently appears as Steve Buscemi's father in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire.") He is her only immediate survivor.
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Photo Caption: Ms. Aldredge's Tony Award-winning designs for "La Cage aux Folles," onstage in 1983.
Photo Credit: Martha Swope/New York Public Library for the Performing Art