A longtime costume designer who was behind Liberace's trademark extravagant costumes has died, reports the Los Angeles Times. Michael Travis, 86, died Thursday.
Travis’ nephew, George Lavdas, said that the designer was hospitalized last month with heart problems and other ailments, but wanted to spend his last days at his home in Studio City, where he died.
Travis was the costume designer for the 1960s comedy hit “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” and for stars including Diana Ross and the Supremes and Nancy Sinatra.
The story adds: “But he's best known for Liberace's lavish outfits — many with bejeweled capes and matching boots — that played a prominent role in the entertainer's shows, maybe more than the piano playing. ‘In Michael, Liberace found someone who could realize his dreams and bring them to life on stage,’ said Connie Furr Soloman, co-author of the 2013 book ‘Liberace Extravaganza!,’ on the entertainer's costumes.”
Liberace’s costumes were so covered in jewels, beads and other materials that they sometimes weighed more than 100 pounds, the story notes. The most extravagant costume from the pair, who started working together in the 1970s and worked together for 13 years, was the 1979 “flame” costume that included small mirrors and 1,600 small lights.
In a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Travis said, “We were working on the best at the end.” Liberace died in 1987.
Other artists for whom Travis designed costumes reportedly included Dionne Warwick, Wayne Newton, the Temptations and Connie Stevens.