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Theadora van Runkle, Hollywood costume designer, dies at 83

November 8, 2011 | 10:45 am

Van runkle
Theadora van Runkle, a Hollywood costume designer whose four-decade career included period pieces like "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Peggy Sue Got Married" (both of which earned her Academy Award nominations) as well as comedies like "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "The Jerk" and ""S.O.B," died Nov. 4 of lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She was 83.

Most of Van Runkle's impressive career -- including the three Oscar nominations, one Emmy (for the series "Wizards and Warriors"), the 2002 Costume Designer Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award and her almost-accidental first job on 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde" -- which had her dressing Faye Dunaway in the now-iconic midi-skirt look -- are well known.

But in the course of researching her life for the obituary that appears in Tuesday's Times, I was surprised at Van Runkle's connection to another iconic look. According to her son, Max Van Runkle, Theodora Van Runkle was once married to photographer Bruce McBroom, the man responsible for snapping the red bathing suit photo of Farrah Fawcett that would go on to become a bestselling poster and fixture on the bedroom walls of an entire gerneration of boys. I'd had no idea.

Services are pending, and the Van Runkle family -- which includes son Max, daughter Felicity and grandson Teo, have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Theadora van Runkle's honor to the American Cancer Society.


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Photo: A 1999 Los Angeles Times archive photo of costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, who died Nov. 4, 2011, from lung cancer. On an easel at left is her sketch of a costume from "Bonnie and Clyde." Credit: Los Angeles Times