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Costume Design, Musical, Broadway, The Happy Time, Freddy Wittop, Vintage Watercolor, c. 1967


Freddy Wittop (1912-2001)
Costume Design for the Role of Louis Bonnard in The Happy Time
American: c. 1967-68
Gouache and ink on paper
Signed with dedication lower right
Provenance: Estate of Charles Durning
15 x 12 inches

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Costume design of a dapper, formally dressed gentleman in a blue pinstripe suit, starched collar, top hat, shoes with spats, a white corsage pinned to his lapel, and holding kid gloves. It was made specifically for a role played by actor Charles Durning in the Broadway musical The Happy Time. After an initial run in Los Angeles, the musical ran on Broadway for 286 performances from January 18 to September 28, 1968, at the Broadway Theatre, New York City. The musical was based on a 1950 play by Samuel A. Taylor, adapted from stories by Robert Fontaine. The production was a collaboration of Broadway luminaries: producer David Merrick, musical composers Kander and Ebb, and director and choreographer Gower Champion — who won Tony Awards in each category for this production. Robert Goulet starred; Charles Durning had one of the major supporting roles.  The design was actually used in the production; a photo of Durning wearing this very costume is on the Kander & Ebb website (see References below). The design was a gift from Wittop to Durning, and bears the following inscription: “For Charles Durning all good luck Wishes for Tonight with my admiration and Friendship.”

Product description continues below


Charles Durning (1923-2012) was a versatile American stage and screen actor with a long career. His stage roles include a Tony-Award-winning performance as Best Actor for playing Big Daddy in a 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and To Be or Not to Be (1983). Durning began performing as a teenager. After serving as a US Army Ranger during World War II, he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Over his long career he appeared in numerous Broadway productions from 1964 to 2000, with his breakthrough role as the star of That Championship Season (1972) after which he was cast in the blockbuster film The Sting (1973). Durning appeared in Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Muppet Movie (1979), North Dallas Forty (1979) and Tootsie (1972). On television he guest-starred in Everybody Loves Raymond (1996) and Monk (2002) among others.

Freddy Wittop was born Federico Rey in Holland and raised in Paris. When he was eleven years old, he began his career as a costume designer for the Brussels Opera. Later he worked for the Folies Bergere in Paris. He immigrated to the United States in 1942 and designed costumes for the French Casino in New York City and was a professional dancer as well. After World War II, he became one of the leading Broadway costume designers, his credits including George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House, Holiday on Ice, Carnival, Subways are for Sleeping, The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, Bajour, The Happy Time, and, most notably, Hello Dolly! for which he won the Tony Award for Costume Design. He was nominated six times for the Tony for his designs.

The largest collection of Wittop’s works belongs to the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia, comprising a collection of 27 of his scrapbooks with sketches, photographs, and personal memorabilia from 1927 to 1988.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling. Very faint lines in outer margins from former matting, unobtrusive and can be rematted out. 


“Charles Durning.” IBDB. (28 February 2023).

“Charles Durning.” IMDb. (28 February 2023).

“Freddy Wittop.” Internet Broadway Database. 2001-2004. (11 May 2005).

“Freddy Wittop and Dear World.”Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 20 September 2001. (31 July 2003).

“Some Leading Designers and influencers of Sixties fashions.” Sixties City. (11 May 2005).

“The Happy Time.” Kander & Ebb. (28 February 2023).

The Happy Time (musical).” Wikipedia. 21 October 2022. (28 February 2023).

Additional information


20th Century