Freddy Wittop (1911-2001) was primarily known as a costume designer, but he also was a dancer and a college professor.
He was born as Frederick Wittop Koning in the Netherlands, then he emigrated with his family to Brussels. He apprenticed with a designer at the Brussels Opera, showing a passion for theater early on in his life. He moved to Paris in 1931 at the age of 20. He designed for Folies Bergère and several other music halls in the area. In his early 20s, he studied Spanish dance and took the name Frederico Rey, performing with La Argentinita across the world. He also toured with Jose Greco and Tina Ramirez.
Wittop changed career paths in the early 1940s and began designing costumes for the Ice Capades, George Abbott's Broadway musical Beat the Band, and Lucille Ball for her film melodrama The Big Street. He dressed showgirls and other dancers at the Latin Quarter, a nightclub in New York City, in the late 1940s. In 1951, Wittop created his own dance company, which toured the United States and Europe until 1958.
In the 1960s, Wittop returned to theater design. His first Broadway production back was George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. He continued to do costume design until 1972. He won the Tony Award for Costume Design for Hello Dolly! in 1964. He was nominated six times for the Tony Awards for his work.
In 1973, Wittop retired to the Spanish island of Ibiza. He eventually returned to the United States in 1984 to work in New York on a few final projects. He had a fondness for the University of Georgia, which he visited on a frequent basis and worked at as a adjunct professor in the school of drama.
In 2001, Wittop died at the age of 89 in Atlantis, Florida. He had just been chosen as the 2001 recipient of the Theatre Development Fund's Irene Sharaff Award for "lifetime achievement in theatrical costume design."
Cite as: Freddy Wittop collection. Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries