Article published in Dropline.biz on June 5, 2006

Academy Award Winning Production Designer Henry Bumstead Dies at 91

By Sarah D. Goldstein (co-authored by Dino M. Zaffina)

Henry Bumstead, Academy Award winning production designer on To Kill a Mockingbird and The Sting died from prostate cancer on May 31, 2006, in Pasadena, California, stepdaughter Sue-Ellen Gittings told Dropline.biz.

Bumstead’s nearly 7 decades in the Motion Picture industry began with his work as a $35-a-week draftsman in the art department at RKO Pictures in the late 1930s after finishing his sophomore year at the University of Southern California. Aspiring to be a production designer he was hired as the art director on the 1948 classic Saigon, starring Alan Ladd. The rest as they say is Hollywood history.

Lloyd Henry Bumstead was born in Ontario, California on March 17, 1915. He was affectionately known as Bummy.  Bumstead recently completed work on Clint Eastwood’s two still-unreleased movies Flags of Our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand, the last of a 13-film collaboration.

Bummy was one of a kind,” Eastwood said in a statement. “He seamlessly bridged the gap between what I saw on the page and what I saw through the camera lens.  He is a legend in his field and a cherished friend. We will all miss him terribly.”

Bumstead received his first Oscar for his depiction of 1930s rural Alabama in director Robert Mulligan’s 1962 drama To Kill a Mockingbird and for re-creating Depression-era Chicago in George Roy Hill’s 1973 comedy-drama The Sting.  He was also nominated by the Academy for his work in Hitchcock’s 1958 romantic thriller Vertigo and for Eastwood’s 1992 western Unforgiven.

Bumstead worked on four Hitchcock films, beginning with the 1956 thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much. The other two were 1969’s Topaz and the Hitchcock’s final movie, 1976’s Family Plot.  

He once described his job as a production designer by saying, “In a nutshell, my job is to break down the script, find the best possible locations, make a budget and design the appropriate sets that correspond to the story.”

I love doing films,” he was reported as saying during an interview. “I’ve never been laid off, I’ve never been fired, and I’ve never looked for a job.” He added, “I wouldn’t be working now at my age if it weren’t for Clint Eastwood.”

Bumstead’s other credits include Cinderfella, The Great Impostor, Joe Kidd, High Plains Drifter, The Great Waldo Pepper, Slap Shot, Cape Fear, Mystic River, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Million Dollar Baby. (List of credits).

Lloyd Henry Bumstead was born in Ontario, California on March 17, 1915. He was affectionately known as Bummy.  Bumstead recently completed work on Clint Eastwood’s two still-unreleased movies Flags of Our Fathers and Red Sun, Black Sand, the last of a 13-film collaboration.

Bummy was one of a kind,” Eastwood said in a statement. “He seamlessly bridged the gap between what I saw on the page and what I saw through the camera lens.  He is a legend in his field and a cherished friend. We will all miss him terribly.”

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