Rita Riggs

Costume Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Rita Riggs (1930-2017) talks about her early years, and being hired by CBS in the costume department just out of school. She recalls working at CBS Television City in Hollywood on shows including The Bob Crosby Show and the classic anthology series Playhouse 90. She describes her costuming work at Revue Studios, which included working with Alfred Hitchcock on his introductions for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which led to her work on Hitchcock's "Psycho," "The Birds," and "Marnie." Riggs details her extensive work in features, including "Seconds," "Petulia," and "Yes, Giorgio." She chronicles costuming for Norman Lear throughout the 1970s on several of his shows, including All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, Good TimesOne Day at A Time, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and The Jeffersons. She speaks of some of her later work, including the television movie Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on August 19, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA. 

"Wear comfortable shoes. Be strong, durable, listen, learn, go to museums, learn from the masters. Painters are such good teachers. They teach you how to put together colors and textures."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Rita Riggs on costuming "Archie Bunker," played by Carroll O'Connor on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on using the Western Costume Company for Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Rita Riggs on costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser
Rita Riggs on being hired out of school by CBS, and going to work at Television City
Rita Riggs on working with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, and on heading up the costume department at their Tandem Productions
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on her education and on designing dresses for school plays; on being hired out of school by CBS, and going to work at Television City
On a typical workday at CBS Television City in the 1950s; on adjustments that were made for costume designers when television switched to color; on costuming The Bob Crosby Show
On costuming Playhouse 90; on a typical workweek costuming for Playhouse 90; on working with various people on Playhouse 90
On costuming for Playhouse 90's "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Old Man"; on using the Western Costume Company for Playhouse 90; on the Hollywood Blacklist

Chapter 2

On Playhouse 90 producer Martin Manulis; on saving the Universal costume stock, and on costuming for various westerns; on working in costuming at Revue Studios
On dealing with costuming guest-stars; on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock Presents
On costuming for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," starring Janet Leigh; on costume elements used for Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Chapter 3

On working in costuming on Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" with Edith Head; on costuming Alfred Hitchcock's feature "Marine"; on working with Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock
On costuming John Frankenheimer's film "Seconds" and various other features; on working for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin on the feature "Divorce, American Style"
On how she came to do costumes for Norman Lear's All in the Family; on working with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, and on heading up the costume department at their Tandem Productions

Chapter 4

On finding clothes for All in the Family; on costuming "Archie Bunker," played by Carroll O'Connor, and the rest of the cast of All in the Family; on costuming Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family and The Jeffersons
On working on costuming with the creative team of All in the Family, and the freedom she enjoyed working under Norman Lear; on the importance and legacy of All in the Family
On doing Beatrice Arthur's costumes for Maude; on costuming "Walter Findlay," played by Bill Macy, and the rest of the cast of Maude

Chapter 5

On working with Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude; on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude and Good Times; on designing costumes for Maude and on how she chose her palettes
On designing costumes for Sanford & Son, and on the challenges of designing for Redd Foxx, who played a junkman; on designing costumes for Good Times for Esther Rolle; on costuming for One Day at a Time

Chapter 6

On costuming Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano" on One Day at a Time; on costuming Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as "Barbara and Julie Cooper" on One Day at a Time, and on the process of costuming on a regular series; on costuming Pat Harrington, Jr. as "Dwayne Schneider" on One Day at a Time
On costuming the cast of The Jeffersons, including Isabel Sanford as "Louise Jefferson" and Roxie Roker as "Helen Willis"; on a typical work week working as a costumer for several shows at once; on costuming Mike Evans and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson," and the rest of the cast of The Jeffersons
On the process of designing costumes for television; on favorite fabrics and colors she uses when costuming, where she finds her inspiration, and her philosophy of costuming; on the difference between being credited for costumes and wardrobe

Chapter 7

On costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser; on costuming for Hot L Baltimore, All's Fair, and The Nancy Walker Show
On costuming various feature films, and starting her own design studios; on working on various projects with Jean Stapleton, and on working with Franklin J. Schaffner on the feature "Yes, Giorgio"; on costuming He's the Mayor, Bagdad Café, and Broadway Bound
On costuming V.I.P. and Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years; on the importance of continuing to work; on advice to aspiring television costume designers and how she would like to be remembered
Shows

Alfred Hitchcock Presents aka The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

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Rita Riggs on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Rita Riggs on costume elements used for Alfred Hitchcock Presents

All in the Family

View Show Page
Rita Riggs on how she came to do costumes for Norman Lear's All in the Family
Rita Riggs on finding clothes for All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming "Archie Bunker," played by Carroll O'Connor on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming "Edith Bunker," played by Jean Stapleton on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming "Gloria Stivic," played by Sally Struthers on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming "Irene Lorenzo," played by Betty Garrett and Vincent Gardenia as "Frank Lorenzo" on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family and The Jeffersons
Rita Riggs on working on costuming with the creative team of All in the Family, and the freedom she enjoyed working under Norman Lear
Rita Riggs on the importance and legacy of All in the Family

All's Fair

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Rita Riggs on costuming for All's Fair

Bagdad Café

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Rita Riggs on costuming Bagdad Café and Broadway Bound

Bob Crosby Show, The

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Rita Riggs on costuming The Bob Crosby Show

Good Times

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Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Good Times for Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans"
Rita Riggs on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude and Good Times, and on the other cast members of those shows

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

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Rita Riggs on costuming Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

He's the Mayor

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Rita Riggs on costuming He's the Mayor

Hot L Baltimore

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Rita Riggs on costuming for Hot L Baltimore

Jeffersons, The

View Show Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family and The Jeffersons
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of The Jeffersons, including Isabel Sanford as "Louise Jefferson" and Roxie Roker as "Helen Willis"
Rita Riggs on costuming Mike Evans and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson," and the rest of the cast of The Jeffersons

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Rita Riggs on costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Maude

View Show Page
Rita Riggs on doing Beatrice Arthur's costumes for Maude
Rita Riggs on costuming "Walter Findlay," played by Bill Macy, and the rest of the cast of Maude
Rita Riggs on working with "palettes" when designing her shows, specifically Conrad Bain as "Arthur Harmon" on Maude
Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Maude, and on how she chose her palettes
Rita Riggs on working with Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
Rita Riggs on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude and Good Times, and on other cast members of those shows

Nancy Walker Show, The

View Show Page
Rita Riggs on costuming for The Nancy Walker Show

One Day at a Time (1975-84)

View Show Page
Rita Riggs on costuming for One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano" on One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as "Barbara and Julie Cooper" on One Day at a Time, and on the process of costuming on a regular series
Rita Riggs on costuming Pat Harrington, Jr. as "Dwayne Schneider" on One Day at a Time

Playhouse 90

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Rita Riggs on costuming Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on a typical workweek costuming for Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on working with various people on Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on working with various writers on Playhouse 90, including Rod Serling
Rita Riggs on costuming for Playhouse 90's "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Old Man"
Rita Riggs on using the Western Costume Company for Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on Playhouse 90 producer Martin Manulis

Playhouse 90: "Days of Wine and Roses"

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Rita Riggs on costuming for Playhouse 90's "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Old Man"

Sanford and Son

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Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Sanford & Son, and on the challenges of designing for Redd Foxx as "Fred Sanford"

V.I.P.

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Rita Riggs on costuming V.I.P.
Topics

Advice

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Rita Riggs on advice to aspiring television costume designers

Hollywood Blacklist

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Rita Riggs on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Rita Riggs on the Hollywood Blacklist

Television Industry

View Topic
Rita Riggs on the Hollywood Blacklist
Rita Riggs on the importance of continuing to work
Rita Riggs on advice to aspiring television costume designers
Professions

Costume Designer

View Profession
Rita Riggs on a typical workday at CBS Television City in the 1950s
Rita Riggs on adjustments that were made for costume designers when television switched to color
Rita Riggs on dealing with costuming guest-stars
Rita Riggs on a typical workweek as a costumer for several shows at once
Rita Riggs on the process of designing costumes for television
Rita Riggs on favorite fabrics and colors she uses when costuming, where she finds her inspiration, and her philosophy of costuming
Rita Riggs on the difference between being credited for costumes and wardrobe
Rita Riggs on advice to aspiring television costume designers

Designers

View Profession
Rita Riggs on a typical workday at CBS Television City in the 1950s
Rita Riggs on adjustments that were made for costume designers when television switched to color
Rita Riggs on dealing with costuming guest-stars
Rita Riggs on a typical workweek as a costumer for several shows at once
Rita Riggs on the process of designing costumes for television
Rita Riggs on favorite fabrics and colors she uses when costuming, where she finds her inspiration, and her philosophy of costuming
Rita Riggs on the difference between being credited for costumes and wardrobe
Rita Riggs on advice to aspiring television costume designers
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Rita Riggs on costuming Playhouse 90
Rita Riggs on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and for the feature film "Psycho"

Comedy Series

View Genre
Rita Riggs on how she came to do costumes for Norman Lear's All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming All in the Family
Rita Riggs on costuming Maude
Rita Riggs on costuming for Maude
Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Sanford & Son
Rita Riggs on costuming for One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming One Day at a Time
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of The Jeffersons
Rita Riggs on costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser
Rita Riggs on costuming for Hot L Baltimore
Rita Riggs on costuming for All's Fair
Rita Riggs on costuming for The Nancy Walker Show
Rita Riggs on costuming He's the Mayor
Rita Riggs on costuming Bagdad Café and Broadway Bound

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Rita Riggs on costuming V.I.P.

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Rita Riggs on costuming Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

Western Series

View Genre
Rita Riggs on saving the Universal costume stock, and on costuming for various westerns
People

Beatrice Arthur

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on doing Beatrice Arthur's costumes for Maude

Mike Evans

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Mike Evans and Damon Evans as "Lionel Jefferson," and the rest of the cast of The Jeffersons

Redd Foxx

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Sanford and Son, and on the challenges of designing for Redd Foxx as "Fred Sanford"

John Frankenheimer

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming John Frankenheimer's film "Seconds" and various other features

Bonnie Franklin

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Bonnie Franklin as "Ann Romano" on One Day at a Time

Vincent Gardenia

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming "Irene Lorenzo," played by Betty Garrett and Vincent Gardenia as "Frank Lorenzo" on All in the Family

Betty Garrett

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Rita Riggs on costuming "Irene Lorenzo," played by Betty Garrett and Vincent Gardenia as "Frank Lorenzo" on All in the Family

Pat Harrington, Jr.

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Rita Riggs on costuming Pat Harrington, Jr. as "Dwayne Schneider" on One Day at a Time

Edith Head

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on working with Edith Head

Sherman Hemsley

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family and The Jeffersons

Alfred Hitchcock

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," starring Janet Leigh
Rita Riggs on working in costuming on Alfred Hitchock's "The Birds" with Edith Head
Rita Riggs on costuming Alfred Hitchock's feature "Marnie"
Rita Riggs on working with Alfred Hitchcock

Louise Lasser

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, starring Louise Lasser

Norman Lear

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on working for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin on the feature "Divorce, American Style"
Rita Riggs on working with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, and on heading up the costume department at their Tandem Productions
Rita Riggs on working on costuming with the creative team of All in the Family, and the freedom she enjoyed working under Norman Lear

Janet Leigh

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," starring Janet Leigh

Bill Macy

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming "Walter Findlay," played by Bill Macy, and the rest of the cast of Maude

Martin Manulis

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Rita Riggs on Playhouse 90 producer Martin Manulis

Rue McClanahan

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on working with Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude

Carroll O'Connor

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming "Archie Bunker," played by Carroll O'Connor on All in the Family

Mackenzie Phillips

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as "Barbara and Julie Cooper" on One Day at a Time, and on the process of costuming on a regular series

Roxie Roker

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of The Jeffersons, including Isabel Sanford as "Louise Jefferson" and Roxie Roker as "Helen Willis"

Esther Rolle

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude and Good Times
Rita Riggs designing clothes for Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Good Times

Isabel Sanford

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as "George and Louise Jefferson" on All in the Family and The Jeffersons
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of The Jeffersons, including Isabel Sanford as "Louise Jefferson" and Roxie Roker as "Helen Willis"

Franklin J. Schaffner

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on working on various projects with Jean Stapleton, and on working with Franklin J. Schaffner on the feature "Yes, Giorgio"

Rod Serling

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on working with various writers on Playhouse 90, including Rod Serling

Jean Stapleton

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on costuming "Edith Bunker," played by Jean Stapleton on All in the Family
Rita Riggs on working on various projects with Jean Stapleton, and on working with Franklin J. Schaffner on the feature "Yes, Giorgio"

Sally Struthers

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming "Gloria Stivic," played by Sally Struthers on All in the Family

Nancy Walker

View Person Page
Rita Riggs on costuming for The Nancy Walker Show

Bud Yorkin

View Interview Page
Rita Riggs on working for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin on the feature "Divorce, American Style"
Rita Riggs on working with Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, and on heading up the costume department at their Tandem Productions

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