Patricia Zipprodt

Patricia Zipprodt (February 24, 1925 – July 17, 1999) was an American costume designer. She was known for her technique of painting fabrics and thoroughly researching a project's subject matter, especially when it was a period piece. During a career that spanned four decades, she worked with such Broadway theatre legends as Jerome Robbins, Hal Prince, Gower Champion, David Merrick, and Bob Fosse.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, Zipprodt attended Bradford Junior College for her freshman year and then transferred to Wellesley College, where she abandoned her plan to become a medical illustrator and concentrated on psychology and sociology. After graduation she moved to New York City and, after seeing a performance by the New York City Ballet, decided to use her artistic talent for a career in costume design. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and apprenticed with Charles James and Irene Sharaff.

Her first Broadway credit was The Potting Shed, a play by Graham Greene, in 1957. She went on to design more than 50 productions over the next 43 years. In 1992, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. She also designed for the New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. She designed costumes and masks for the long-running off-Broadway production of the Jean Genet play The Blacks in the early 1960s.

Zipprodt's feature film credits include The Graduate, Last of the Mobile Hot Shots, and 1776. She designed television adaptations of The Glass Menagerie, Alice in Wonderland, and Sunday in the Park with George.

In 1946, following her graduation from Wellesley, Zipprodt had returned to Chicago, where she met Lieut. Col. Robert O'Brien, Jr. He proposed but she declined because she wanted to pursue a career. More than forty years later, the retired and widowed O'Brien saw her biography in Playbill and contacted her via Brandeis University, where she was an artist in residence.[1]


Colonel O'Brien and Zipprodt were married on June 5, 1993 and remained married until his death in 1998. Zipprodt died of cancer on July 17, 1999 at her home in Greenwich Village. She was 74 years old.[1]


Awards and nominations


  1. 1 2 Van Gelder, Lawrence.Patricia Zipprodt, 74, Costume Designer" New York Times, July 19, 1999
  2. "On Stage, and Off". New York Times. December 6, 1991.


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