Richard Sylbert

Production designer, Executive, Art director
Formally trained as a painter at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, Richard Sylbert gave up his dreams of becoming a great artist to become instead one of the best American art directors, in the same league as his ... Read more »
Born: 04/16/1928 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Filmography

Art Department (56)

Unconditional Love (New Line) 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Production Designer

Trapped 2002 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Blood & Wine 1997 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

My Best Friend's Wedding 1997 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Red Corner 1997 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Mulholland Falls 1996 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Carlito's Way 1993 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Deception 1993 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Mobsters 1991 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Dick Tracy 1990 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Bonfire of the Vanities 1990 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Shoot to Kill 1988 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Tequila Sunrise 1988 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Don Johnson's Music Video Feature Heartbeat 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Scenic Artist

Under the Cherry Moon 1986 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Cotton Club 1984 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Breathless 1983 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Cheers 1982 (Tv Show)

Production Designer

Frances 1982 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Partners 1981 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Reds 1981 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Players 1979 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Shampoo 1975 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Fortune 1975 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Chinatown 1974 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Day of the Dolphin 1973 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Fat City 1972 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Heartbreak Kid 1972 (Movie)

(Art Director)

Carnal Knowledge 1971 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Catch-22 1970 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The April Fools 1969 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Rosemary's Baby 1968 (Movie)

production design (Production Designer)

The Graduate 1967 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Grand Prix 1966 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? 1966 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

How to Murder Your Wife 1965 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Pawnbroker 1965 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Lilith 1964 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

All the Way Home 1963 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

All the Way Home 1963 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Long Day's Journey Into Night 1962 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Connection 1962 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Manchurian Candidate 1962 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

Walk on the Wild Side 1962 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Mad Dog Coll 1961 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Splendor in the Grass 1961 (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Young Doctors 1961 (Movie)

production design (Production Designer)

Murder, Inc. 1960 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

The Fugitive Kind 1960 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Wind Across the Everglades 1958 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

A Face in the Crowd 1957 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Baby Doll 1956 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Crowded Paradise 1956 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Edge of the City 1956 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Patterns 1956 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Last Hours Before Morning (TV Show)

Production Designer
Actor (3)

Mulholland Falls 1996 (Movie)

coroner (Actor)

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Formally trained as a painter at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, Richard Sylbert gave up his dreams of becoming a great artist to become instead one of the best American art directors, in the same league as his mentor, the legendary William Cameron Menzies. The Brooklyn native began during TV's 'Golden Age', painting scenery at NBC, and did his first significant feature work for Elia Kazan on films such as "Baby Doll" (1956), "A Face in the Crowd" (1957) and "Splendor in the Grass" (1961). By the time he worked with Sidney Lumet on "The Fugitive Kind" (1960), he was borrowing from music and moving beyond character-based design, using patterns and repetition to tie his films together. Sylbert had met John Frankenheimer when both were working in TV, and the director hired him to design the masterful cold war thriller, "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962). His ingenious decision to move the set as the camera turned produced the brilliant 360-degree pan of the memorable brainwash scene, and its 1988 re-release demonstrated how well the picture as a whole had withstood the test of time.

Relationships

Douglas Sylbert

Son

Jon Sylbert

Son

Mark Sylbert

Son

Carol Godshalk

Wife

Brooke Hayward

Companion
Together from 1960-1961 daughter of agent Leland Hayward and actress Margaret Sullavan

Sharmagne Leland-St John Actor

Wife
Met Sylbert prior to his marriage to Susanna Moore (c.1964) began on-again, off-again romance married in 1991 until his death in 2002

Susanna Moore Production Designer

Wife

Daisy Sylbert

Daughter
Born May 24, 1984 mother, Sharmagne Sylbert godfather is Warren Beatty and godmother is Oscar Winning costume designer Milena Canonero

Lulu Sylbert

Daughter
Acted in "Strange Invaders" (1983), on which her mother, Susanna Moore, served as production designer and costume designer

Paul Sylbert

Brother
Identical twin Paul was formerly married to Anthea Sylbert, who worked for nearly a decade as a costume designer with Richard

Anthea Sylbert

Sister-In-Law
Married to his twin brother Paul worked as a costume designer with Richard

EDUCATION

Temple University

Elkins Park , Pennsylvania
Receiving formal training as a painter at the University's Tyler School of Art; attended with his twin brother Paul

Milestones

2002

Was working with PJ Hogan on "Peter Pan" at the time of his death

2002

Reteamed with PJ Hogan as production designer of "Who Shot Victor Fox?"

1997

Re-created several blocks of Beijing, China on seven acres near the Los Angeles airport for Jon Avnet's "Red Corner"

1997

Provided production design for PJ Hogan's "My Best Friend's Wedding"

1996

Appeared in "Mulholland Falls" as the coroner; also served as production designer

1993

Re-teamed with De Palma for "Carlito's Way"

1990

Won second Academy Award for Best Art Direction for the comic book stylings of Beatty's "Dick Tracy"

1990

Created the good-looking design for director Brian De Palma's "Bonfire of the Vanities"

1988

Served as production designer of Towne's "Tequila Sunrise"

1984

Received fifth Academy Award nomination for "The Cotton Club"; sixth and last collaboration with Gaines

1983

Received an Emmy nomination for "Give Me a Ring Sometime" episode of "Cheers" (NBC); shared nomination with Gaines; also designed and built the set of the long running TV series

1981

First picture with Beatty as director, "Reds"; garnered fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction

1975

Received a Best Art Direction Academy Award nomination for Hal Ashby's "Shampoo"; co-scripted by Towne and Beatty

1975

Named as Robert Evans' successor as vice president in charge of production at Paramount

1974

Re-teamed with Polanski for "Chinatown"; first collaboration with screenwriter Robert Towne; earned Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Art Direction

1973

Fifth film with Nichols, "The Day of the Dolphin"

1972

Set designer for Neil Simon's Broadway production, "The Prisoner of Second Avenue"

1972

Provided the art direction for Elaine May's "The Heartbreak Kid"

1970

Fourth film with Mike Nichols, "Carnal Knowledge"

1969

Again re-teamed with Nichols on "Catch-22"

1968

First film with director Roman Polanski, "Rosemary's Baby"

1967

Re-teamed with Mike Nichols for "The Graduate"

1966

Won first Best Art Direction Academy Award for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; first collaboration with director Mike Nichols

1966

Re-teamed with Frankenheimer as art director on "Grand Prix"

1965

Re-teamed with Lumet, providing the art direction for "The Pawnbroker"; final collaboration with Kaufman

1965

Asssociate produced "What's New, Pussycat?"

1964

Was production designer on Robert Rossen's "Lilith"

1962

Re-teamed with Lumet as art director on "Long Day's Journey into Night"

1962

Lured to Hollywood by producer Charles K Feldman to work on Edward Dmytryk's "Walk on the Wild Side"

1962

First collaboration with director John Frankenheimer, "The Manchurian Candidate"

1961

Third collaboration with Kazan as the production designer of "Splendor in the Grass"

1960

Credited as Dick Sylbert for art direction of "Murder, Inc."

1960

First film with director Sidney Lumet, "The Fugitive Kind"; served as production designer

1957

Again teamed with brother Paul on art direction of Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd"

1956

First feature film as art director, "Patterns"; also first collaboration with director of photography Boris Kaufman

1956

Shared duties as art director with twin brother Paul (credited as assistant) on Elia Kazan's "Baby Doll"

1954

Served as art director on syndicated TV series, "Inner Sanctum"

Served with the US Army in the same infantry unit as his twin brother Paul

After leaving art school, moved with Paul to NYC, eventually living in the same building on Riverside Drive

Grew up in Brooklyn, New York; used to read on the roof of his building by the lights of Ebbets Field

Got a job painting scenery at NBC; Paul worked at CBS

Mentored under art director William Cameron Menzies, who encouraged Sylbert to move to Hollywood

Bonus Trivia

.

On meeting director Elia Kazan: "I went into his office. It was above the Astor Theater on 44th and Broadway. Little dump. Couch had holes in it. Kazan said, 'Read the script; come back tomorrow.' It was the script for 'Baby Doll.' So I read it and I came back the next day and he said, 'Draw me some things.' So I drew a porch in an old southern house with a rocking chair next to it. And a tube of ointment that was sort of twisted up. He said to me, 'What kind of ointment is that?' And I said, 'I have no idea.' He said, 'It's pile ointment. I'll see you in Mississippi.' That was my first lesson in specifics." - Sylbert to Peter Biskind in Premiere magazine, December 1993

.

About forcing director Roman Polanski to shoot a scene a certain way by leaving the backing off a wall: "Roman comes in and he says, 'Deek! Deek! There's no back!' I tricked him. There was no way he could shoot it. I know what directors want better than they do. I'm the medicine they're going to have to take. Some people don't like to take medicine. So you have to get them in a position where they're happy to take it. They get better." - Sylbert in Premiere magazine, December 1993

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Mr. Sylbert was to receive the Hollywood Film Festival Life Achievement award in the year of his death. His widow granted permission to give the award to Harold Michaelson and to name the waward after Mr. Sylbert in perpetuity.

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