Obituaries: Tony Walton, award-winning British art director

Anthony John Walton, art director and production designer. Born: 24 October 1934 in Walton-on-Thames, England. Died: 2 March 2022 in New York City, USA aged 87
Tony Walton attends a Broadway event in 2013 (Picture: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)Tony Walton attends a Broadway event in 2013 (Picture: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
Tony Walton attends a Broadway event in 2013 (Picture: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Award-winning British art director and production designer Tony Walton has died aged 87. The Oscar-winner enjoyed a career spanning five decades in film, television and the stage and was famous for his work on Broadway in the United States.

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.

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

His stepdaughter 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.

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

Walton was born in Walton-on-Thames, in England, on 24 October 1934, 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.

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He was the production designer for Madison Square Garden’s A Christmas Carol for ten 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.

In a statement, Dame Julie said: “Tony was my dearest and oldest friend. He taught me to see the world with fresh eyes and his talent was simply monumental. I will miss him more than I can say. We are a huge, blended family and as we hold each other close, we take comfort knowing that he lives on, not only in his children and grandchildren, but in the memories of thousands who cherished his warmth and generosity and the glorious gifts he gave us... gifts of theatre and film, ballet and opera, the graphic arts and illustration.

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“He was a Titan of the Arts. A doting father and husband... and beloved beyond measure.”

Walton 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 were seen at London’s Theatre Royal Covent Garden, The Sadler’s Wells Opera Company and throughout Europe and America.

Walton is survived by his wife, author Genevieve LeRoy Walton, his daughters Emma Walton Hamilton and Bridget LeRoy, and five grandchildren.


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