Freddy Wittop July 26, 1911 – February 2, 2001
From the 1940s until the 1980s, was one of Broadway's leading costume designers. Successful as both costume designer and professional dancer Wittop is probably best known for his designs for David Merrick's Hello Dolly! for which he won the Tony award for costume design in 1964. He created a memorable sequined crimson gown for its star, Carol Channing, who wore the dress while singing the musical's title song. Among other hit shows, he designed the costumes for the award-winning Carnival; On a Clear Day; I Do! I Do!; George M; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Subways are for Sleeping; Bajour; The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd and To Broadway with Love, a show performed at the New York World's Fair, for which he created more than 1,000 costumes.
Frederick Wittop was born in Holland in 1911 and educated in Paris. After becoming an apprentice in the costume department of the Brussels Opera, in 1931 he moved to Paris to work for the most famous of all theatrical costumiers, Erte, designing costumes for the Folies Bergeres and other music halls, creating hundreds of chorus girls' costumes as well as dressing such stars as Josephine Baker and Mistinguett.
He designed the costumes for an all-star production of Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw, and by 1943, in addition to Broadway shows, was designing the costumes for the popular Ice Capades touring ice spectacular, which featured Bobby Specht, the 1942 American Men's Figure Skating champion. Mr. Wittop also created costumes for George Abbott's Broadway musical, Beat the Band. His costumes were also seen in major nightclub revues at the French Casino, The Latin Quarter and elsewhere. Mr. Wittop also designed Ballet Theatre productions of El Amor Brujo, Pictures of Goya and Bolero at the Metropolitan Opera House, in 1944.
Mr. Wittop was also a dancer, and studied Spanish dance. In the 1930's he began a professional dancing career in Paris that led to international acclaim. He and his first partner, the famed Argentinita, appeared around the world (1941-43). He made his Broadway debut as a performer in 1942, in Top Notches. According to "Who's Who in the American Theatre," Mr. Wittop toured the U.S. and Europe with his own dance company from 1951-58.