Costume designer Rita Riggs, who sewed stuffed crows onto Tippi Hedren’s iconic green dress for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and made sure that Archie Bunker’s single pair of trousers stayed mended through a seven-year stretch of All in the Family, died Monday in Los Angeles. She was 86.
“He had seven white shirts,” Riggs once said about Carroll O’Connor’s All In The Family wardrobe, explaining that the choice of white- over blue-collar reflected Archie’s belief that he was the “class equal” of any American.
Riggs’ credits were extensive, but it was her longstanding collaborations with Hitchcock and Norman Lear that most left a mark on the culture. Whether designing or thrift-store shopping for All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Maude, Good Times, Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons, Riggs’ eye for the telling outfit encapsulated characters and defined eras.
For Hitchcock, with whom she first collaborated on TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents!, Riggs worked on Psycho and, with Edith Head, The Birds and Marnie. Her work with Lear and partner Bud Yorkin began with the 1967 feature Divorce American Style and continued through 1971’s Cold Turkey and the classic ’70s sitcoms.
Riggs’ other credits include John Frankenheimer’s Seconds, Richard Lester’s Petulia, Peter Bogdanovich’s Texasville, Jacques Demy’s Model Shop and Richard Brooks’ The Happy Ending, among many more.
Born on September 2, 1930 in Lead Hill, Arkansas, Riggs was hired by CBS in 1954 and soon was working in wardrobe and costumes for, among others, Climax!, Playhouse 90, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents!
She was costumer designer for CBS’ 1999 TV-movie Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, and in 2003 received the Career Achievement Award in Television from the Costume Designers Guild. In 2016, the Costume Designers Guild Legacy Committee awarded her their Career Achievement Award in Film and Television.
A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Riggs was married to the late Charles Sharp.