By Robert Simonson
07 Feb 2013
Mr. Lewis was born in St. Louis, MO, in 1935. His career began while still in college when he was offered the dance lead for a season at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre. After that one season of summer stock, he went to New York and found roles in First Impressions (1959) and Vintage ‘60. Mr. Lewis also played Cornelius in road companies of Hello, Dolly!, as well as in Los Angeles and London.
On film, he found a few roles in such movies as "Star!" and "Funny Lady." But he found his bread and butter not as an actor, but as a set decorator. Mr. Lewis’ friends, agent Sue Mengers and her husband Jean-Claude Tramont, purchased a home in Bel Air in 1975. They admired the way Lewis had decorated his own home, and asked him to redesign their new one. This led Lewis to designing private homes for celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Herbert Ross, Barry Diller and many others. This quickly led to behind-the-scenes work in movies.
Among his credits as set designer were "Pennies from Heaven," "Against All Odds," "Sweet Dreams," "Short Circuit," "Beaches," "Pretty Woman," "Backdraft," "Dracula," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Face/Off," "Enemy of the State," "Panic Room," "Wedding Crashers" and "Georgia Rule." Between 1989 and 1993, he was nominated for four Oscars—for "Hook," "Dracula," "Glory" and "Beaches."