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Robert Turturice dies at 60; Emmy-winning costume designer

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Robert Turturice, a Hollywood costume designer who won an Emmy Award for his work on the 1980s hit TV series "Moonlighting" and whose movie credits include "Batman & Robin" and "Big Top Pee-wee," has died. He was 60.

Turturice, a former president of the Costume Designers Guild who successfully battled squamous cell carcinoma in 2005, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 15 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Christopher Lawrence, a friend and fellow costume designer.


FOR THE RECORD:
Robert Turturice obituary: A headline on the obituary of Emmy-winning costume designer Robert Turturice in Thursday's Section A said he died in 2010. He died Dec. 15, 2009. —


Lawrence said Turturice's death was not announced to the media earlier because the venue for a memorial service had not been arranged.

"He nurtured so many of today's costume designers," Lawrence said. "He was that rare costume designer who could design amazing period costumes like those for the 'Atomic Shakespeare' episode of 'Moonlighting,' as well as design the couture gowns worn by actresses on the red carpet."

Demi Moore, Bette Midler, Tess Harper, Cybill Shepherd, Loni Anderson and Christine Baranski were among the actresses who wore Turturice's gowns to Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe ceremonies, Lawrence said.

When the Costume Designers Guild presents a posthumous Hall of Fame Award to Turturice on Feb. 25 at the guild's awards ceremony, Anderson will accept it on his behalf.

"He was so extremely creative and such a lovely man," Anderson, who worked with Turturice on numerous TV series, films and TV movies, told The Times this week. "Everybody adored him."

That includes Paul Reubens, aka Pee-wee Herman, for whom Turturice designed costumes not only for "Big Top Pee-wee," but also for TV's "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and "Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special." "He was a great and very talented -- and a very nice -- man," Reubens told The Times.

"Besides the fact I think he's awesome as a costume designer, the challenges he had on my circus movie were just incredible. We had a full set of farm animals and circus animals that needed to be costumed," he said. "He did an amazing job."

Among the other films Turturice worked on during his four-decade career as a costume designer were "Clean and Sober," "Say Anything," "Beaches" and "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas."

For television, he worked on 31 movies of the week, 19 series, 15 specials and 27 pilots. Among the series: "Cybill," "Partners in Crime," "Sisters," "Bette," "Arli$$," "JAG" and "Bosom Buddies."

A multi-Emmy nominee, including nominations for his work on the HBO movie "Gia" and for "Cybill," he won his Emmy for "Moonlighting" in 1987.

The 1985-89 detective series starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis also earned Turturice the Best-Dressed Series Award from the California Fashion Industry and the California Mart.

"My clothes are not the most important aspect [of the show], so I keep them subtle and pulled back so as not to distract from the marvelous dialogue," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1986. "The clothes were not meant to grab attention, but they did!"

Turturice was born March 15, 1949, in Berkeley. After graduating from high school at 17, he studied production design at the Pasadena Playhouse before switching to costume design.

Turturice, who served as president of the Costume Designers Guild from 1992 to 1996, is survived by his mother, Evelyn Wright Turturice.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. March 14 at the Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave.

dennis.mclellan@latimes.com

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