Born In: Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Tony Walton is an award-winning English theater/film set and costume designer. He began his career working for Noël Coward and his Broadway sets and went on to design sets for various New York and London theater shows. In 1964, he got a major breakthrough with the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins, working as its set designer, costume designer, and visual consultant. In 1979, he won an Academy Award for his work in Bob Fosse's musical All That Jazz. Throughout his life, he has collaborated with many talented directors, such as Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Ken Russell, and Paul Newman. He has designed ballet and opera sets, directed and produced theatrical projects, and illustrated for various publications. He was previously married to legendary actor Julie Andrews. Tony and Julie have worked on various projects together. He is now married to author Genevieve “Gen” LeRoy and stays in New York.
Also Known As: Anthony John Walton
Spouse/Ex-: Gen LeRoy (m. 1991), Julie Andrews (m. 1959–1967)
children: Emma Walton Hamilton
Born Country: England
City: Surrey, England
education: Slade School of Fine Art, Radley College
Tony Walton was born Anthony John Walton, on October 24, 1934, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, U.K. Tony’s father worked as a surgeon.
Tony studied Greek and Latin at the Radley College in Oxford and then joined the Slade School of Fine Art in London.
He also attended a 2-year mandatory military training with the Royal Air Force and served as a trainee pilot in Ontario, Canada.
Tony Walton started his career designing the stage for Noël Coward's Broadway version of Conversation Piece in 1957. He continued designing sets for various London and New York theater shows throughout the late 1950s and the early 1960s.
Tony stepped into movies through Walt Disney and Tony’s first wife, Julie Andrews. Apparently, Disney met Julie after a performance of Camelot, following which Julie convinced him to hire Tony as a set designer, costume designer, and visual consultant for the 1964 film Mary Poppins. Tony eventually earned an Academy Award nomination for the “Best Production Design” for his work in the film.
Tony delivered an award-winning production design for Bob Fosse's musical All That Jazz in 1979. He has collaborated with other top-notch directors such as Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Francois Truffaut, Ken Russell, Paul Newman, and Volcker Schlondorf, too, working as a production/costume designer for their projects.
In 1983, Diana Ross selected Walton to design the stage for her 1983 Central Park concert For One & For All.
He has directed and designed sets for the revival of Where’s Charley? at the Goodspeed Opera House and the U.S. premiere of After the Ball (a Noël Coward musical based on Lady Windermere’s Fan) at the Irish Repertory Theatre. He has also directed and designed theater productions such as The Importance of Being Earnest, Candida, Major Barbara, and The Devil’s Disciple.
Apart from directing theater productions of Shaw, Wilde, and Coward, Tony has also directed shows for New York’s Irish Repertory, Sarasota’s Asolo Repertory, San Diego’s Old Globe, the Bay Street Theatre, and East Hampton’s John Drew Theatre.
Some of his other noteworthy directorial ventures include Noël Coward’s A Song at Twilight at the Bay Street Theatre, Oops! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show for a U.S. tour spanning 60 cities, and Gen LeRoy’s Missing Footage at the Old Globe Theatre of San Diego.
He has also worked on shows for Guild Hall, Easthampton. He designed Orson Welles’s Moby Dick Rehearsed and Peter Shaffer’s Equus and The Gift of the Gorgon. He has also worked on Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8:30.
He has also co-produced six productions in London, three of them with Hal Prince. He has designed sets for London’s Theatre Royal Covent Garden and The Sadler’s Wells Opera Company.
Tony has also designed ballet sets, including those of St. Louis Woman at the Dance Theatre of Harlem (Lincoln Center) and The Sleeping Beauty and Peter and the Wolf for the American Ballet Theatre at the Met. He has also designed sets for ballet shows of the San Francisco Ballet Company.
He worked as a production designer for Madison Square Garden’s Christmas Carol for a decade and also for Julie Andrews’s revival of The Boy Friend (2003) for Bay Street Theatre and for the Goodspeed Opera House. In 2005, he followed the play on their U.S. tour.
He has also illustrated for many books and magazines. He has drawn caricatures for publications such as Theatre Arts, Playbill, and Vogue. He has also designed posters for several West End, Broadway, and Off-Broadway shows.
Tony Walton has been honored with multiple prestigious awards for his work. Of the 16 Tony Award nominations he has received for his Broadway costumes or sets, he has won the 1973 Tony for the “Best Scenic Design” for Pippin (1972), the 1986 Tony for the “Best Scenic Design” for The House of Blue Leaves, and another in 1992 for Guys and Dolls.
Pippin also won him the Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Set Design” in 1972. Additionally, Tony has earned Drama Desk Awards for Shelter (1973), Social Security (1986), House of Blue Leaves (1986), Guys and Dolls (1992), Steel Pier (1997), and Uncle Vanya (2000).
Tony Walton has also earned several Academy Award nominations, for Mary Poppins (costume design, 1964), The Wiz (one each for costume design and art direction, 1978), and Murder on the Orient Express (costume design, 1974). He won the 1979 Academy Award for the “Best Production Design” for All That Jazz (shared with Philip Rosenberg). He also won an Emmy for the TV adaptation of Death of a Salesman in 1985.
The Wiz also won him a Saturn Award nomination in 1979. In 1975, he was nominated for the BAFTA awards for the “Best Costume Design” and the “Best Art Direction” for Murder on the Orient Express.
In 1989, an exhibit showcased by the American Museum of the Moving Image featured Tony’s career of more than 30 years. The exhibit was titled Tony Walton: Designing for Stage and Screen and included his models and drawings from his early plays, such as the Regency-style Conversation Piece (1957) and the London street set for Mary Poppins (1964).
In 1991, he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. In 1993, he won the Drama-Logue Award for Scenic Design for Conversations with My Father, which was showcased by the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson at the James A. Doolittle (University of California) Theatre in Los Angeles.
Tony was invited as a guest at The Noël Coward Society’s event commemorating the 106th birth anniversary of Sir Noël, in December 2005. He laid flowers at Noël Coward's statue at the Gershwin Theatre of New York.
In 2012, he won the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Lifetime Achievement Award for “Excellence in Production Design.”
Tony Walton got married to children’s book author Genevieve “Gen” LeRoy on September 12, 1991. He is a stepfather to journalist and radio-show host Bridget LeRoy, Gen’s daughter from her previous marriage to businessman Warner LeRoy.
Tony was previously married to his childhood sweetheart, actor/singer Julie Andrews. Apparently, Tony had fallen in love with Julie after watching her perform as the egg in a theatrical version of Humpty Dumpty, when they were both kids.
Tony and Julie got married on May 10, 1959. They have a daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. However, the couple divorced on November 14, 1967.
Nevertheless, Tony and Julie are good friends now. In fact, Tony has worked with Julie and their daughter quite a few times. He has also illustrated a few children's books written by Julie and Emma.
Tony and Gen now live in New York City. They have five grandchildren.
Tony Walton was the inspiration behind the Sherman Brothers’ songs for the Disney animated film Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966). Tony apparently told them about his struggle with weight issues throughout childhood and how Winnie was the only character that had inspired him, as Winnie, too, was “chubby.”
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