Mielziner, Jo

Mielziner, Jo

(mēlzē`nər), 1901–76, American theatrical scene designer, b. Paris. Mielziner made his Broadway design debut in 1924 with The Guardsman. He designed sets, and usually the lighting, for more than 200 productions, including Strange Interlude, Carousel, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the film Picnic, and the ballet Who Cares? The most influential set designer of his time, he often utilized scrims and multiple playing areas that allowed the action to flow seamlessly from one setting to another. During World War II, he was a camouflage specialist with the U.S. Air Force. Mielziner was, with Eero SaarinenSaarinen, Eero
, 1910–61, Finnish-American architect, grad. Yale (B.A., 1934), became an American citizen in 1940; son of Eliel Saarinen. Saarinen's reputation was established with his design of the General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Mich. (1951–55).
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, codesigner of the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York City's Lincoln Center.

Bibliography

See his memoir, Designing for the Theatre (1965), and his The Shapes of Our Theatre (1970); biography by M. C. Henderson (2000).

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Mielziner, Jo

(1901–76) set/theater designer; born in Paris, France. In the course of his career, he designed the sets for over 400 Broadway plays, most of the major productions from the 1930s to the 1950s. Turning his back on the earlier tradition of theatrical realism, he often employed mere suggestions of settings, using scrims and isolated scenic units to create further effects. His use of lighting to change the dramatic focus from one scene to another has been described as "cinematic." Among his works are The Guardsman (with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, 1924), Strange Interlude (1928), Romeo and Juliet (with Katharine Cornell, 1934), Hamlet (with John Gielgud, 1936), The Glass Menagerie (1945), Death of a Salesman (1949), Guys and Dolls (1950), and The King and I (1951). He was the designer of the Washington Square Theatre and (with Eero Saarinen) the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.