Walter Plunkett. prolific costume designer of the 1930’s-’50’
Walter Plunkett was the costume designer for Gone With The Wind . He made over 500 costumes for the film. There was no Oscar category for costumes, so his work on the film was not recognized. Years later he received the Oscar for costuming “An American in Paris.”
Walter Plunkett (June 5, 1902 in Oakland, California – March 8, 1982) was a prolific costume designer who worked on more than 150 projects throughout his career in the Hollywood film industry.
Born in Oakland, California, Plunkett studied law at the University of California, where he was a member of the California-Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, but showed greater interest in the school’s theatrical group.
He moved to New York City in 1923 and began work as a stage actor as well as a costume and set designer. After some time in Greenwich Village, he moved back to California, this time to Hollywood, and found work as a movie extra. (He can be seen dancing with Irene, another future top designer, in Erich von Stroheim‘s 1925 film The Merry Widow.) He soon made a career change to costume and wardrobe.
Plunkett’s first credited work as a costume designer was the 1927 film Hard-Boiled Haggerty. At RKO, he developed a huge costume and wardrobe department that became a major studio asset. Given free rein, he set about creating costumes that rivaled the work of his contemporaries, such as Travis Banton and Adrian.
Plunkett’s best-known work is featured in two films, Gone with the Wind and Singin’ in the Rain, in which he lampooned his initial style of the Roaring Twenties.
In 1951, Plunkett shared an Oscar with Orry-Kelly and Irene for An American in Paris.
Plunkett retired in 1966, after having worked in films, on Broadway, and for the Metropolitan Opera.
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