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Freddy Wittop, 89, Costume Designer

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Freddy Wittop, 89, Costume Designer

Costume designer Freddy Wittop died Fri., Feb. 2 after a brief illness at the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Fla. He was 89.

Born in the Netherlands, Wittop began studying his craft at the age of 13, when he became an apprentice with the resident designer at the Brussels Opera. He later moved to Paris, where he designed for music hall shows such as the Folies Bergere, as well as for performers such as Mistinguett and Josephine Baker.

In the 1930s, Wittop took a career turn into professional Spanish dance, appearing worldwide with his first partner, Argentinita, and also touring with Pilar Gomez, Jose Greco, and Tina Ramirez.

Wittop became a designer once again in the 1940s, beginning with the Ice Capades in 1942, and continuing with such shows as George Abbot's "Beat the Band," The Latin Quarter Night Club Revue, "Heartbreak House" with Maurice Evans, "Carnival!" with Jerry Orbach and Anna Maria Alberghetti, and David Merrick's "Subways Are for Sleeping." Although he would eventually be nominated six times for a Tony Award, Wittop's only win was in 1964 for his work on "Hello Dolly" starring Carol Channing.

After his 1986 retirement to Tequesta, Fla., Wittop continued to travel to Athens, Georgia, where he was an adjunct professor in the school of drama at the University of Georgia.

Wittop was recently chosen as the 2001 recipient of the Theatre Development Fund's Irene Scharaff Award for "Lifetime Achievement in Costume Design"; the award will be accepted posthumously for him at a ceremony in April.

Jean-Pierre Aumont, 90, Actor

Actor Jean-Pierre Aumont died Tues., Jan. 30 at his home in Saint-Tropez, France. He was 90.

Aumont began his 70-year career on the French stage in the early 1930s, and went on to appear in more than 60 films and television series. After earning awards of distinction in the early days of the second World War, he made his Hollywood debut in "Assignment in Brittany" (1943). His other films include "Song of Scheherazade" (1947), "The Seven Deadly Sins," (1962), Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" (1973), "Mahogany" (1975), "The Happy Hooker (1975), and "Nana" (1982).

However, the actor never abandoned the stage; he appeared in the Broadway productions of "Tovarich" with Vivien Leigh, and "Camino Real" with Al Pacino.

His last performance was in 1998's TV adaptation of "The Count of Monte Cristo."

He accepted an honorary award at the 1991 Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscars.

Leslie Edwards, 84, Dancer

Dancer Leslie Edwards died Thurs., Feb. 8 in London. He was 84.

Edwards spent most of his 60-year career with the Royal Ballet, where he won acclaim as an accomplished character dancer and mime. He also danced with Ballet Rambert, appearing in the 1936 world premiere of Anthony Tudor's "Jardin aux Lilas."

In Tchaikovsky's "The Sleeping Beauty," Edwards was Catalbutte, a part that would be his in five different Royal Ballet productions from 1946 on. He danced the role into the company's 1949 American debut, the production that starred Margot Fonteyn. He went on to play parts ranging from the Prince of Verona in "Romeo and Juliet" to a beggar in the slums of Glasgow in "Miracle in the Gorbals." Also, Frederick Ashton created parts for Edwards including an elegant duke ("Marguerite and Armand"), a hermit ("Ondine"), and a rich farmer ("La Fille Mal Gardee").

In 1998, Edwards came out of retirement to perform as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet's production of "Checkmate," in honor of the 100th birthday of its choreographer, Dame Ninette de Valois.

Edwards shared his talent offstage as well, teaching mime at the Royal Ballet School, serving as rehearsal director at the Royal Ballet, and as ballet master with the Royal Opera. He supported upcoming choreographers by directing the Royal Ballet Choreographic Group.

In 1975, Edwards was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire; in 1984 he received the Royal Academy of Dancing Queen Elizabeth II Coronation award; in 1991 he received the Lorenzo il Magnifico Prize for Dance.

Richard Woods, Actor

Actor Richard Woods died recently. The graduate of Ithaca College appeared on stage, screen, and in films during his career. His Broadway credits included the starring role in the revival of "You Can't Take It with You" (as well as the Showtime cable version); the co-starring role in "The Old Boy" at the Horizon; the Circle in the Square productions of "Design for Living," "The Man Who Came to Dinner," "Man and Superman," and "The Father"; "The Showoff" and "Deathtrap" with the Roundabout Theatre (originating the role of Porter Milgrim in the latter); "Gigi"; and "Sherlock Holmes" (which he also did at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, playing Watson opposite Frank Langella in a production later taped for HBO).

Woods also had extensive regional credits, performing with APA-Phoenix from 1962-69, Long Wharf, Yale Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, American Shakespeare Festival, American National Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival, and the Phoenix Theatre Co.

On television, Woods appeared on "The Adams Chronicles," "Rage of Angels," "Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Bob Hope in Central Park," "Let Me Hear You Whisper," and the daytime dramas "Dark Shadows," "The Doctors," "Ryan's Hope," "For Richer or Poorer," and "The Guiding Light."

Woods' film appearances included "Miller's Crossing" and "The Hudsucker Proxy" for the Coen brothers, "Mr. North," "I.," "Lolita," and "In and Out."

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