Jenkins, George, 1908-2007

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George Clarke Jenkins was a set designer, lighting designer and architect who designed for both theater and film and was known for his realism and attention to detail.

His most famous theatrical designs are Sly Fox (1976), Wait Until Dark (1966), 13 Daughters (1961), The Miracle Worker (1959), The Happiest Millionaire (1956-1957), Too Late the Phalarope(1956), The Desk Set (1955-1956), and Two for the Seesaw (1954). Born on November 19,1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, Jenkins originally trained as an architect, but began designing (and constructing) sets for summer stock and small independent theater troupes. In 1938 Jo Mielziner hired him as an assistant and Jenkins worked for him for three years. 1943 saw Jenkins's independent Broadway debut as a set and lighting designer with Early to Bed at the Broadhurst Theatre. The next year his designs for I Remember Mama caught the attention of Samuel Goldwyn. His first motion picture design was for The Best Years of Our Lives. In the 1950s Jenkins also began working in television, becoming a color specialist at both NBC and CBS. He also completed several architectural projects during the 1950s and 1960s, designing actual theater buildings for clients such as the University of Pennsylvania. In the early 1970s, Jenkins moved to California to focus more exclusively on film work. Among his final Broadway productions were Sly Fox, which earned Jenkins a Tony nomination.

From the description of George Jenkins papers and designs, 1933-1981. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 84688558

George Clarke Jenkins was a set designer, lighting designer and architect known for his realism and attention to detail. He was born on November 19, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. Though originally trained as an architect, in the 1930s Jenkins began designing (and constructing) sets for summer stock and small independent theater troupes. In 1938 Jo Mielziner hired him as an assistant. Jenkins worked for him for three years - drafting and model-making, supervising the construction and painting of sets, and buying props. 1943 saw Jenkins’s independent Broadway debut as a set and lighting designer with Early to Bed at the Broadhurst Theatre. The next year his designs for I Remember Mama caught the attention of Samuel Goldwyn, who lured Jenkins to Hollywood to design for Goldwyn/RKO. His first motion picture design was for The Best Years of Our Lives, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. For many years Jenkins continued designing for Broadway as well as Hollywood, equally at ease with stage and screen.

In the 1950s Jenkins added another medium to his design roster – that of television. He worked as a color specialist at both NBC and CBS, and in 1955 married Phyllis Adams, a pioneering television producer at NBC. Jenkins worked steadily through the 1950s on productions including The Desk Set (1954), The Happiest Millionaire (1957) and Too Late the Phalarope (1956). (The sets for the latter two were both nominated for Tony awards.) In 1959 he designed the sets for the stage version of The Miracle Worker, and in 1962 he designed the sets for the film version. (His sets were meant to closely resemble the actual home of Helen Keller in Georgia.) Jenkins also designed the sets for Wait Until Dark (1966) on Broadway and then on film.

During the 1950s and 1960s Jenkins also worked as an architect, often bringing together all of his areas of expertise by designing actual theater buildings for clients like the University of Pennsylvania. In the early 1970s Jenkins moved to California to focus more exclusively on film work. His final two Broadway productions were Night Watch (1972) and Sly Fox (1976). Sly Fox was notable for its use of turntable sets, an ingenious solution that earned Jenkins a Tony nomination.

From the guide to the George Jenkins papers and designs, 1933-1981, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Vincent J. Donehue papers, 1946-1965 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Jenkins, George C., Mrs. The record of my ancestry containing the genealogy of the Key & Sewall family and its branches from the year --- to 1898, with photographs and collateral ancestry. Allen County Public Library, ACPL
referencedIn Waldron family. Papers, 1815-1893 (inclusive). Rutgers University
creatorOf George Jenkins papers and designs, 1933-1981 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Jenkins, George, 1908-2007. Set designs and groundplans, 1943-[1963]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Jenkins, George G.,. Commonplace book, ca.1804. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Jenkins, George, 1908-2007. George Jenkins papers and designs, 1933-1981. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Rawle, Edward. Edward Rawle letter, 1837 Nov. 4. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Vincent J. Donehue designs and plans, 1950-1963 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anne Bancroft person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. person
associatedWith Chodorov, Edward, 1904-1988. person
associatedWith Cowper, William, 1731-1800. person
associatedWith Donehue, Vincent J., 1915-1966 person
associatedWith Dorothy Jeakins person
associatedWith Gibson, William, 1914-2008. person
associatedWith Henry Fonda person
associatedWith Irene Sharaff person
associatedWith Jo Mielziner person
associatedWith Joseph Mielziner person
associatedWith Magoon, Eaton. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Ming Cho Lee person
associatedWith Patty Duke person
associatedWith Rawle, Edward. person
associatedWith Schwartz, Arthur, 1900-1984. person
associatedWith Waldron family. family
associatedWith Waller, Fats, 1904-1943. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Theaters--Stage-setting and scenery
American poetry--1801-1826
Religious poetry
English poetry--18th century
Occupation
Architect
Set designers
Stage lighting designers
Activity

Person

Birth 1908-11-19

Death 2007-04-06

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