Peter Larkin Dies: Four-Time Tony-Winning Production Designer Was 93

Wesley Strick

Peter Larkin, whose innovative set design graced Broadway productions and major films, died Monday at his home in Bridgehampton, New York after a brief illness. He was 93 years old and his death was confirmed by his stepson, screenwriter Wesley Strick.

Larkin won four Tony Awards and was behind the set design for such Broadway productions as Peter PanThe Teahouse of the August Moon and No Time for Sergeants. His film resume was equally impressive, including Tootsie and Get Shorty. 

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Boston by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Oliver Waterman Larkin, he attended Yale.

Larkin’s Broadway debut came with Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in 1951. That led to his big break, the Broadway show of Peter Pan with actress Mary Martin. The show was so successful it immediately went to television within five months, setting a television record for the time with 65 million viewers.

Overall, Larkin received 10 nominations for Tony Awards set design, winning twice in 1954 for his work on Ondine, directed by Alfred Lunt and starring Audrey Hepburn, and for the best play winner Teahouse of the August Moon, starring John Forsythe and David Wayne.

That triumph was followed by duel wins in 1956 for No Time for Sergeants, starring Andy Griffith, and Inherit the Wind, starring Ed Begley.

His Broadway success soon led him to Hollywood. His first credit as a film production designer came in 1981’s Nighthawks, starring Sylvester Stallone. From there, he went on to do the designs for Tootsie (1982), Get Shorty (1995), Guarding Tess (1994), The First Wives Club (1996), Reuben, Reuben (1983), Three Men and a Baby (1987), The Secret of My Success (1987), Mel Brooks’ Life Stinks (1991), Night and the City (1992), Barry Sonnenfeld’s For Love or Money (1993), Major Payne (1995), Maximum Bob (1998) and Miss Congeniality (2000).

Larkin also designed sets for the Stratford Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut and the New York City Center Ballet.

His wife, painter Racelle Strick, died in 2008. Survivors include his stepdaughter, Ivy Hamlin, and stepson Wesley Strick.

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