July 28, 2014 : Imagine Your Possibilities: Paramount Pictures Costume Archivist Randall Thropp
- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager
Lancaster – Randall Thropp has come full circle. The Paramount Pictures costume archivist grew up in Lancaster and attended Ohio University Lancaster for two years after graduating from Lancaster High School in 1974. This summer he has brought the Designing Woman: Edith Head at Paramount 1924 – 1967 exhibit to his hometown. The exhibit is on display at the Decorative Arts Center until August 24.
“While I was in high school, I took summer classes with then-OUL Theatre Director Jeff Wagner,” said Thropp. “I knew I wanted to be involved in a theater department somewhere when I went to college, and Jeff Wagner encouraged me to start at OUL.”
Wagner was director of the theatre from 1969 to 1998 and passed away a short time later. Thropp said Wagner helped him to get very involved with OUL Theatre as a student. Thropp used the time at OUL to fine tune his craft and save money to attend a theatre school in New York.
“The first play I did at OUL was ‘The Fantasticks,’” said Thropp. “I also did ‘The Girls in 509,’ ‘Everything in the Garden,’ and ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ I also directed a couple of pieces at OUL and worked with the Lancaster Arts and Civic Club.”
Thropp eventually left OUL and went to “Circle in the Square,” a theatre school in New York City affiliated with NYU. After college his career took him in many directions. In 1987, he was asked to join the company of “Tony and Tina’s Wedding.” Thropp was one of the original collaborators and created the environments and sets for the play. That project eventually took him to Los Angeles where he started working in television.
“In 1990, I worked on ‘The Great Los Angeles Earthquake.’ It was a television mini-series where many of the victims were buried under rubble. It was during this project that I started to really learn costuming,” said Thropp. “My first job was bloodying up extras and working with the special effects people. I got a reputation for being the blood guy.”
Thropp worked on “Tales from the Crypt” for HBO for five years as a costume supervisor. He also worked on the remake of “The Shining” for ABC. Thropp eventually went back to New York, but California came calling again in 2003 when he was asked to take a position in the Paramount Costume Department. In 2007, he became the costume archivist at Paramount Pictures.
That role put him in charge of the Edith Head collection and led to him helping bring the exhibit back home to Lancaster. Head is one of the most recognizable names in film fashion history. During her 60-year career, she worked on more than 1,000 films, garnered 35 Academy Award nominations and won eight. Head designed many of the iconic costumes worn by Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, Veronica Lake, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. The exhibit opened June 7.
Thropp will be in Lancaster in mid-August to discuss Head’s remarkable career and the Paramount costume archive, which houses more than 20,000 costume pieces and 12,000 pieces of jewelry.
An Edith Head Film Festival will be held at OUL in the Wagner Theatre on Saturday, August 16. “The Lady Eve” will be shown at 2 p.m. and “To Catch a Thief” will be shown at 4 p.m. Thropp will attend the event along with actress, Susan Claassen, who will be appearing as Edith Head.
“I am really happy that the OUL Theatre program is growing and doing well,” said Thropp. “I still practice things that I learned from Jeff Wagner while I was part of the OUL Theatre. For five or six years, I did children’s theatre in Los Angeles, and everything Jeff ever taught me I put to use.”