Rita Riggs, Costume Designer for Alfred Hitchcock and 'The Jeffersons,' Dies at 86

RITA RIGGS - Publicity-P 2017
Courtesy of Ilonka Sudul

She worked on films with Edith Head and on several series for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin.

Rita Riggs, the costume designer and wardrobe specialist who worked on Psycho and The Birds for Alfred Hitchcock and on TV's All in the Family and The Jeffersons for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, has died. She was 86.

Riggs died Monday in Los Angeles, a family spokesperson said.

In 2003, Riggs received the Career Achievement Award in Television from the Costume Designers Guild, and last year, the guild's legacy committee honored her with another lifetime award.

Riggs' estimable resumé for the big screen also included work for directors John Frankenheimer (1966's Seconds), Richard Lester (1968's Petulia), Jacques Demy (1969's Model Shop), Richard Brooks (1969's The Happy Ending), William Friedkin (1983's Deal of the Century), Peter Bogdanovich (1990's Texasville), Franklin Schaffner (1982's Yes, Giorgio), Mark Rydell (1973's Cinderella Liberty) and Lear (1971's Cold Turkey).


Born in the mining town of Lead Hill, Arkansas, Riggs came to California in 1943 at age 13 with her family. She attended Santa Ana High School and then the University of Arizona.

She landed a job at CBS Studios, and her first assignment was for the variety show Shower of Stars. That was followed by stints on Climax!, the live anthology show Playhouse 90 and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Her association with Hitchcock led her to jobs on the director's Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964), the latter two working under the legendary costume designer Edith Head.

For Lear and/or Yorkin, Riggs also served on Maude, Sanford & Son, Good Times, One Day at a Time and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman at The Loft, her studio in Hollywood.

As the family on The Jeffersons moved on up from their middle-class home in Queens to a Manhattan high-rise, Riggs turned Sherman Hemsley's character into a "dandy," putting him in conservative three-piece suits in unusual colors, she recalled in a 2003 interview for the Archive of American Television.

She also contributed to the sepia-toned "photo album" look to All in the Family.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada, California.