Costume Designer Theadora Van Runkle Dies at 83

1:56 PM PST 11/08/2011 by Mike Barnes

She influenced a generation with her Oscar-nominated work dressing Faye Dunaway on “Bonnie and Clyde."

Costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, who dressed Faye Dunaway for Bonnie and Clyde and The Thomas Crown Affair on the way to three Oscar nominations and an Emmy Award, has died. She was 83.

The self-taught Van Runkle died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of lung cancer, the Costume Designers Guild announced. The organization gave her its LIfetime Achievement Award in 2002.

Van Runkle, who worked at the May Co. department store chain illustrating fashion ads before breaking into the movies, earned her Oscar noms for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).

Other films on which she worked included Hawaii (1966), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968), Bullitt (1968), Myra Breckenridge (1970), Mame (1974), New York, New York (1977), Heaven Can Wait (1978), The Jerk (1979), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and Troop Beverly Hills (1989).

Her Emmy came in 1983 for outstanding costume design for the medieval-themed CBS series Wizards and Warriors.

For Dunaway's gun-swinging outlaw Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde, Van Runkle went with long cardigan sweaters, narrow skirts and, of course, a beret for a style that influenced a generation. In The Thomas Crown Affair the next year, she put Dunaway in more than 31 costumes for the sexy heist drama that co-starred Steve McQueen.

The Pittsburgh native also dressed Dunaway for the 1968 Oscars ceremony, when Dunaway was nominated for best actress for her portrayal of Parker.

She is survived by son Max, daughter Felicity and grandson Teo.

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