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Obituaries

Jocelyn Rickards, 80; Artist Designed Costumes for Top Films in '60s and '70s

August 27, 2005|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Jocelyn Rickards, a London-based costume designer who worked on many of the leading films of the 1960s and early 1970s, including "Blow-Up," "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "From Russia With Love," died July 7. She was 80.

Rickards died of pneumonia in a nursing home in London, her husband, film director Clive Donner, said this week.

A talented artist as well as a costume designer, Rickards continued to paint and exhibit her work after she retired from film in the early 1970s. She also wrote a 1987 autobiography, "The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves," about her romantic liaisons with novelist Graham Greene, playwright John Osborne and philosopher Alfred Jules Ayer, among others.

She began her movie career designing costumes for gritty and unsettling films such as "Look Back in Anger" (1958), about a rebellious young man in 1950s England, and "The Entertainer" (1960), about a fading actor. Both movies are based on Osborne plays.

She went on to help create the stylish look that is a hallmark of James Bond movies when she designed costumes for 1963's "From Russia With Love," starring Sean Connery.

Rickards' work for "Blow-Up" (1966) captured major fashion trends in contemporary London when the city was a center of style. Rickards was costume designer for women's dresses and created looks inspired by Mary Quant, Rudi Gernreich and other cutting-edge fashion designers.

She won an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for her work on "Mademoiselle" (1966), starring Jeanne Moreau.

She also designed costumes for "Morgan!" (1966) and "The Knack ... and How to Get It" (1965).

"Joceyln Rickards was a major costume designer," movie producer Judd Bernard, a longtime friend, said this week. "She worked on the movies of their time, movies that evoke an era."

She was sought by leading directors known for making stylish films that had substance. She teamed with Tony Richardson on "Look Back in Anger" and several other films. She worked with John Schlesinger on "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1971) and with David Lean on "Ryan's Daughter" (1970).

"Jocelyn's credits read like a who's who of swinging London," said Deborah Nadoolman Landis, president of the Costume Designers Guild Local 892. She said Rickards worked with directors who defined the best of the sophisticated, innovative, cultural revolution in London at the time.

Rickards was born in Melbourne, Australia, and studied art at East Sydney Technical College. She moved to London in 1949.

She was striking in appearance, with dark hair and green eyes. Osborne described her as a woman of "passionate intelligence and emotional candor" in his 1991 autobiography.

In her book, she wrote in detail about her love life as a younger woman. She met Ayer at a New Year's Eve party soon after she arrived in London and was introduced to Greene when she and Ayer were still a couple. "I arrived with Freddie Ayer and left in love with Graham Greene," she wrote of that night, referring to Ayer by his nickname. Her affair with Greene began two years later, in 1953. They remained friends until his death in 1991.

Her affair with Osborne, who was married at the time, began in the late 1950s after she designed the costumes for the film version of "Look Back in Anger."

In 1963, soon after their affair ended, Rickards married artist Leonard Rosoman. They later divorced.

She got to know Donner when she was the costume designer for "Alfred the Great" (1969), which he directed. They married in the early 1970s.

"She was fascinating and talented," Donner said this week. "In her art and her writing, she followed her own instincts and didn't follow the rules."

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