NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Sad news arrived over the
weekend: the death on Saturday of Donfeld, one of Hollywood's
best costume designers of the recent past and one of the
industry's best friends as well.
He was a witty, stylish and colorful gentleman who always
reminded me of a walking tree (he stood 6-foot-5), someone who
never failed to amaze those who met him with his knowledge of
the film world's ancient history as well as what Russell Crowe
said to Nicole Kidman last Friday. Donfeld knew it all. But,
like Roddy McDowall, he could keep secrets.
One of his many strengths, in addition to his talent, was
his willingness to do battle when he thought there had been an
oversight of one of the industry's hard workers or whenever he
felt his beloved Hollywood was going haywire -- a judgment that
seemed to pop up more and more in conversations with him in
recent times. But he also found the movie business and its
citizenry endlessly fascinating and worth respect.
The four-time Academy Award nominee -- "Days of Wine and
Roses" (1962), "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969), "Tom
Sawyer" (1973) and "Prizzi's Honor" (1985) -- was born Donald
Lee Feld and began working in films as Don Feld (first movie:
1961's "Sanctuary," for which he did Lee Remick's costumes),
after which he rarely stopped throughout the '60s, '70s and
'80s. His professional name eventually melded into Donfeld.
He worked with everybody. Bette Davis insisted he do her
clothes for "Dead Ringer," Ingrid Bergman asked for him on
"Walk in the Spring Rain," he designed Ann-Margret's wardrobe
for "Viva Las Vegas," Jill St. John's for "Diamonds Are
Forever" and Natalie Wood's for "The Great Race" -- and he'd go
anywhere Jacqueline Bisset wanted him, day or night, sun or
storm, Europe or Pico Boulevard.
He adored most of the ladies he worked with, but not all,
and had many male pals he liked working with as well, Patrick
Swayze being a particular favorite.
In the '90s, the work offers didn't stop, but Donfeld did,
going into semi-retirement, only occasionally being tempted
enough to again pull out the sketch pad and drawing pencils.
Because of his great flair for life, unquenchable interest in
films and overflowing humor, it seems unusual he would leave us
so quickly and quietly, the victim of a heart attack at age 72.
If you didn't know Donfeld, you missed one of the really
good fellows. Hollywood will be a much less interesting, less
Technicolored place without him in it.
IN THE APPLE
This week's N.Y. show business calendar includes Ben Vereen
beginning a two-week stand Tuesday night at Feinstein's at the
Regency and Justin Timberlake and Rod Stewart at Madison Square
Garden (Wednesday and Thursday, respectively).
A concert staging of "Follies" launches this season's
"Encores!" series Thursday for four nights at the City Center
with a knockout cast: Donna Murphy in the role that was a Tony
winner for Alexis Smith in the original 1971 incarnation,
Victoria Clark (the Dorothy Collins role), Christine Baranski
(in the part originated by Yvonne De Carlo), Victor Garber, Jo
Anne Worley, Mimi Hines, Philip Bosco, Michael McGrath and Anne
On Monday, 50 Oscar statuettes go on display, and will be
available for public holding, at ABC's Times Square Studios to
add to the city's Oscar consciousness.