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Renowned movie title designer Wayne Fitzgerald, whose credits range from ‘The Godfather: Part II’ to ‘Total Recall,’ dies age 89

2019-10-01

Versatile movie-title designer Wayne Fitzgerald, whose fonts set the tone for the likes of “Auntie Mame,” “Pillow Talk,” “My Fair Lady,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Basic Instinct,” among hundreds of other films, has died.

He was 89.

His wife, MaryEllen Courtney, confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter, saying he died on Monday after a brief illness.

Fitzgerald won three Emmys, his titles introducing television shows from “Maverick,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Columbo,” “Knots Landing,” “Matlock” and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.”

Other movies included “The Godfather: Part II” and “Total Recall,” among others too numerous to name.

The designer spent the first 17 years of his life at Pacific Title & Art, a company crafting the main titles for major studios including Warner Bros., MGM, Fox, Paramount and Columbia, according to Deadline.

His task: to create compelling opening credits for movies and television shows. For “Auntie Mame,” kaleidoscope glass coalesced into the actors’ names. For “Total Recall,” a crimson sci-fi backdrop of lights carried the stars’ names. To open “Pillow Talk,” three panels showed “Doris Day on one side, Rock Hudson on the other and the credits in the middle,” The Hollywood Reporter described. “The actors toss pillows back and forth that wipe the text on and off the screen.”

His ingenuity could be transposed across genres, with the SYFY network lauding his skills for “Total Recall,” “The Fly” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”

Title design is what sets the tone and gives the first impression of a film, show or video game that over the years has become, arguably, an art form in itself.