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Set Designer Eldon Elder Dies at 79

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Eldon Elder, a set, lighting, and costume designer who designed the New York Shakespeare Festival's Delacorte Theater in Central Park, died on Mon., Dec. 11, in Manhattan. He was 79 years old and the cause of death was heart failure.

Over his half century in theatre, Elder designed more than 200 plays on and Off-Broadway, in regional theatre, and abroad. In addition, he worked for opera companies, often creating their lighting and costumes, along with their sets.

The Atchison, KS native attended Emporia State College and the University of Denver before studying scenic design at the Yale University School of Drama.

He launched his career for the Theatre Guild in 1951. The productions he designed during his career include "Fallen Angels," "The Young and Beautiful," "Time Out for Ginger," and, recently, "Hizzoner" on Broadway.

In 1958, he became the first resident designer for Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, a position that led Elder to design The Delacorte Theater.

Elder, who contributed articles to publications and anthologies, was the author of "Will It Make Theater," a guide to finding, renovating, and financing non-traditional performance spaces.

He served as a professor of Stage Design at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, from 1956 to 1975. Since that time, he was a guest professor and visiting critic at many universities, including the School of Drama at Yale, Columbia University, and Carnegie Mellon University, among others.

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