Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celebrating Ray Aghayan!

“A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes.”
Edith Head

It's Thursday, October 4th on a rainy day in New York and I am saddened by the passing of Ray Aghayan.I actually own three pieces designed by him. I own the Cecilia Sisson coat that Carol Channing wore in Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey: On Broadway from 1969 (She also wore this coat on The Muppets show and in concert halls around the world). I also own her famed red handkerchief dress that she wore at The Hollywood Bowl with Jerry Herman and various other concerts

(Carol had the same dress in white and in blue)
And last but certainly not least, I own her yellow sailor Little Girl From Little Rock dress from Lorelei.

What a body of work, Ray leaves behind.

Unless you are diehard TV, movie, and television fans, you may have no idea who he was. Well, today, I'm going to fix that!
He was one of the world's most accomplished costume designers. He died yesterday at age 83.

Aghayan received a Tony Award nomination for Applause.
His other Broadway credits include Vintage 60, The Egg, Lorelei, and the 1971 revival of On the Town.
Aghayan, the longtime partner of Bob Mackie, who started as his assistant, died of “unknown causes,” the Archive of American Television said Wednesday. Bob Mackie is the name everyone knows.
The Iran native -- who dressed Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross and did the costumes for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics -- won the first Emmy Award in his field in 1967.
(A sketch by Bob Mackie, based on a costume design by Ray Aghayan, for Judy Garland, gouache on board, signed by Aghayan, the design created for her television series "The Judy Garland Show", showing Garland wearing a full length white lace gown)

Aghayan was instrumental in persuading the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to officially recognize the contribution of costume designers. With Mackie, he won the first ever Emmy for costume design in 1967 for NBC’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.
He went on to earn two more Emmys (amid nine total nominations) and received a career achievement award from the Costume Designers Guild in 2008.

Aghayan designed numerous film and television programs including Matinee Theater, The Judy Garland Show, Dr. Doolitle, Caprice, Lady Sings the Blues, and Funny Lady. He received three Emmy Awards, three Oscar nominations, and numerous other honors for his work.

A native of Tehran, Iran, Aghayan was nominated for Oscars for Norman Jewison’s Gaily, Gaily (1969); with Mackie and Norma Koch for Lady Sings the Blues (1972) starring Ross as Billie Holliday; and, again with Mackie, for Funny Lady (1975) starring Streisand.

For Funny Lady, Aghayan and Mackie created 40 complete 1930s-style outfits -- not only dresses and suits, but also the hats, gloves, scarves and shoes -- for Streisand's Fanny Brice.

The son of a society couturier in Tehran, Aghayan at age 14 designed the mourning clothes for the wife of the Shah of Iran, Queen Fawzia. Three years later, he convinced his mother to allow him to move on his own to Los Angeles.

After several years producing, directing and designing costumes for his own productions, Aghayan got a job on the mid-1950s anthology series Matinee Theater (the live show required a talent for quick costume changes).
That led to a stint as costume designer on the short-lived 1963-64 variety series The Judy Garland Show.

Aghayan’s film resume also includes The Art of Love (1965), Our Man Flint (1966), Dr. Doolittle (1967), Hannie Caulder (1971) with Raquel Welch and three Doris Day films: Do Not Disturb (1965), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and Caprice (1967).

Thank you, Ray, for the gifts you gave to the world!

LOCAL 802 MUSICIAN'S HALL, 322 West 48th Street, NYC
An Afternoon Celebrating The Legacy of Jerry Herman
Richard Skipper hosts along with Klea Blackhurst, Ken Bloom, Marge Champion, Amber Edwards (Words and Music, the award winning documentary on Jerry Herman), Sondra Lee (Hello Dolly!'s original Minnie Faye), Miles Phillips, Donald Pippin, Lee Roy Reams with John Fischer on piano.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. I am now answering a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to

Next question will be answered tomorrow! (Thank you, once again, Stephen Artist)

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


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Tomorrow's blog will be a review of Suzanne LaRusch as Lucille Ball which I am seeing tonight.


Richard Skipper,


  1. Richard - A beautiful tribute to a talented man whose name may not be familiar to everyone but whose brilliant work has been seen by millions.
    Paul Brogan

  2. Richard, Thank you for this. He was a genius in the field of design and more people should know who he was and what he did.