Born in Evanston, Illinois, Patricia Zipprodt attended New Trier High School while also studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. She came to Wellesley College to study psychology and sociology and graduated in 1949. While she did not study art or design at Wellesley, she mentioned that one class in studio art and her membership in the Shakespeare Society particularly influenced her decision to move to New York, pursue a career as an artist, and attend the Fashion Institute of Technology.
While in New York, Zipprodt attended a production of The Waltz and was inspired by the extraordinary design of the costumes. From there, her career as a costume designer took off. She won three Tony awards for her work on Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966), and Sweet Charity (1985), and was honored with eight other Tony nominations. She also received four Maharam Awards (now known as the Hewes Design Awards), nine Drama Desk Awards, and an Emmy Award.
Pat, as her friends called her, was a founding member of the National Theatre for the Deaf and taught classes at the Yale School of Drama, Harvard University, Wellesley College, Brandeis University, and Northwestern University, to name a few. In 1992, she was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award in Costume Design, one of Broadway’s biggest honors.
She lived in Virginia with her husband, retired U.S. Army Colonel Robert O’Brien, where they bred stud horses before her death in 1999.
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