Three legendary production designers – Preston Ames, Richard MacDonald and Edward Stephenson – will be inducted into the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Hall of Fame at the guild’s 17th annual Excellence in Production Design awards, Feb. 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Previous ADG Hall of Fame inductees, which are only given posthumously, are Robert F. Boyle, William S. Darling, Alfred Junge, Alexander Golitzen, Albert Heschong, Eugène Lourié, John Box, Hilyard Brown, Malcolm F. Brown, Wilfred Buckland, Henry Bumstead, Edward Carfagno, Carroll Clark, Richard Day, John DeCuir Sr., Hans Dreier, Bob Keene, Cedric Gibbons, Stephen Goosson, Anton Grot, Stephen Grimes, Ted Haworth, Dale Hennesy, Harry Horner, Joseph McMillan “Mac” Johnson, Romain Johnston, Boris Leven, John Meehan, William Cameron Menzies, Harold Michelson, Van Nest Polglase, Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Jan Scott, Alexandre Trauner, James Trittipo and Lyle Wheeler.
“This continues to be a proud moment for our guild as we look to the past so we may build the bridges to our future,” said ADG president, Thomas Walsh. “The ADG Hall of Fame recognizes the many achievements of those artists who created and evolved the unique discipline of art direction for the moving image. Their creative legacy continues to inspire and challenge all of those who have chosen the art of production design as their profession and it is appropriate that we honor their memory through their induction into the ADG Hall of Fame.”
Nominations for the ADG’s Excellence in Production Design awards will be announced on Jan. 3. On awards night, the ADG will present winners in nine competitive categories for theatrical films, television productions, commercials and music videos. Recipient this year of the guild’s Lifetime Achievement award will be production designer Herman Zimmerman.
Ames studied architecture in France and worked as an architectural draftsman in San Francisco before being hired as a draftsman for the art department at MGM. It was there that he officially started his Hollywood career while working on The Wizard of Oz in 1939 as a draftsman headed by supervising art director Cedric Gibbons. Graduating to art director only five years after his Hollywood debut, Ames’ most notable success took place during MGM’s golden musical era. In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Ames went on to work on a variety of pictures including An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958), both for which he won Oscars. He was nominated for six Academy Awards in art direction. Other highlights of his career include recreating the ill-fated Titanic in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), the mystical city of Brigadoon (1954), as well as doing production design on all of Vincente Minnelli’s MGM musicals.
MacDonald was a British artist and production designer for stage and film. MacDonald studied to become a painter at the Royal College of Art and then served in the Royal Navy during World War II. After the war, he taught painting at Leeds College of Art and the Camberwell School of Art in London. He worked briefly as a theatrical set designer before starting his film career as an art director in 1954. MacDonald made many uncredited contributions to several of the blacklisted directors’ films in the 1950s and from 1955-1965, he worked as a television art director for advertising firms and began drawing for the films of the blacklisted American director, Joseph Losey. It was during Losey’s Modesty Blaise (1965) that MacDonald would receive his first production designer credit. MacDonald was nominated for three BAFTA awards for King & Country (1964), The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Addams Family (1991).
Stephenson was a television producer, production designer and art director for nearly 50 years in Hollywood. Stephenson moved from Iowa at a young age to California, where he graduated from the Pasadena Playhouse College of the Theatre. Working as a director, art director and producer for various playhouses and theaters through the U.S. during the 1930s and ’40s, Stephenson then joined the U.S. Air Force during WWII where he accepted a position in the special staff section as the civilian director of entertainment and music for the commander in chief, far east and supreme commander, allied powers. After leaving the military he found work in Hollywood feature films and TV. He was hired by NBC Television where he won his first Primetime Emmy for best art direction in 1959 for An Evening with Fred Astaire (1958). Stephenson went on to win two more Primetime Emmys, for outstanding variety series for The Andy Williams Show (1962) and outstanding art direction for a comedy series for Soap (1977), and was nominated for additional Emmys for The Danny Kaye Show in 1963 and The Golden Girls in 1986.