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Iconic Star Trek Costume Designer Robert Fletcher Dead at 98

April 14, 2021 08:45 | By
Robert Fletcher

Robert Fletcher (courtesy: Everett Collection)

Costume Designer Robert Fletcher,  who provided costumes for stage and screen for over six decades, died on April 5 in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 98. No cause of death was disclosed, but a spokesman for Fletcher said he died peacefully.

Fletcher’s husband of 65 years, singer, Broadway dancer and New York City Ballet charter member Jack Kauflin had previously passed away.

Fletcher was best known for his work as costume designer for four Star Trek features: Star Trek: The Motion PictureThe Wrath of KhanThe Search for Spock, and Star Trek: The Voyage Home. That work earned him three Saturn Awards nominations for the first three films and then a win for the fourth. Fletcher is credited for helping to establish the look and style for the Klingon and Vulcan characters in those films and beyond.

He also received three Tony Award nominations for his work on Broadway, for Little Me in 1963, High Spirits in 1964, and Hadrian VII in 1969, and then in 1982, he received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his costume design in Othello.

Fletcher was born in 1922 in Ceder Rapids, Iowa, to actor Leon Ames.  Fletcher moved to New York City to work as an actor in Ethel Barrymore´s final show, Embezzled Heaven and kept company with the likes of Gore VidalAnais NinTennessee Williams and blues musician, Lead Belly.

He designed costumes and sets for Lincoln Kirstein‘s ballet and opera projects, as well as the costumes for the original Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Walking Happy. He also played the role of Edgar and designed the costumes for Orson Welles’ 1956 New York City Center production of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Fletcher’s relation with Shakespeare continued with his work designing costumes for the American Shakespeare Theatre‘s 1960 production of The Tempest, starting Katherine Hepburn.

Eventually, his costume work extended into television, where he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special for North and South, Book II in 1986. In 2005, Fletcher was given the Career Achievement Award from the Costume Designers Guild, and he received a Theatre Development Fund/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for his set design in 2008.

Fletcherś intentions to retire to Taos, New Mexico in 1989 didn’t last long, as he continued to do design work in the United States, Europe, Asia and for Bollywood, including work on the HBO shows, Rome and Game of Thrones.

Fletcher’s design archives was donated to Harvard University.