Production designer Harold Michelson dies


Veteran motion picture production designer and two-time Academy Award nominee Harold Michelson has died after a long illness. He was 87.

Michelson, who died Friday, received Oscar nominations for "Terms of Endearment" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." In 1999, he received the Art Directors Guild's lifetime achievement award, and in 2002, he earned the Hollywood Film Festival's outstanding achievement in production design award.

His credits as an art director and/or production designer include "Dick Tracy," "Spaceballs," "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," "Mommie Dearest," "Catch-22," "History of the World: Part I," "Johnny Got His Gun," "The Outside Man," "Hair," "Mame," "Pretty Poison," "Can't Stop the Music," "The Thousand Plane Raid" and "Two People."

Also a widely recognized illustrator, Michelson illustrated films including "The Ten Commandments," "Cleopatra," "Ben-Hur," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "The Graduate," "Irma La Douce," "West Side Story," "The Apartment," "The Birds," "Fiddler on the Roof," "A Star is Born," "From Here to Eternity," "Ship of Fools" and "The Turning Point."

Michelson was born in New York. During World War II as a bombardier-navigator in the U.S. Air Force, he flew more than 40 missions over Germany. Following the war he became an illustrator. His first studio job was as an apprentice illustrator for Columbia Pictures, which segued to his being traded to Paramount Pictures to do illustrations and storyboards for "Ten Commandments." At Paramount he moved up the ranks to senior illustrator. He then moved on to MGM to work on "Ben-Hur" and then to Universal to illustrate for "Spartacus."

Michelson's career in art direction began with NBC's "Matinee Theater" and went on to include CBS' "The Gomer Pyle Show" and "The Andy Griffith Show."

He is survived by his wife, Lillian Michelson; his three sons Alan, Eric and Dennis; and two grandchildren, Luca and Romeo.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills.