Society

Newly-uncovered ‘gallery’ will help church

Hollywood, New York set designer worked for many celebrity stars


Virginia Manning displays a portion of the James Newton Jr. artwork which was recently discovered stored in an antique trunk. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Virginia Manning displays a portion of the James Newton Jr. artwork which was recently discovered stored in an antique trunk. Reporter/Mike Brown A recent find in an antique trunk regarding one of the few people to have ever worked with Fred Astaire and Alice Cooper during the same career is going to benefit a local church.

Between 17o and 220 original drawings and sketches by the late James B. (Jim) Newton Jr. were recently found and are being appraised as the start of a fund-raiser that will ultimately benefit St. John’s United Methodist Church.

Virginia Manning, owner of the Nic-Nac Shop, is assisting the effort. She said the artwork was found with the belongings of the late B. F. Cook Jr. which were donated to the church.

“David and Sharon Ogee and Dave and Mary Phillips were going through Mr. Cook’s belongings for the church when they opened a tr uck and came upon this beautiful artwork,” Manning said.


Newton sketched conceptions of characters from Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill and more. Newton sketched conceptions of characters from Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill and more. SHAKESPEARE—Many of the drawings are sketches of costumes for productions of Shakespeare plays.

There are characters from Hamlet, Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a st u nning set desig n for the “double, double, toil and trouble” witches scene from Macbeth.

There are also concepts for show sets and a few “art for art’s sale” which might once have a had a commercial purpose not now evident.

CA R EER—New ton, who died in 1986 at age 45, had a br illiant career as a set designer in films, the theatre and concerts and worked for some of the biggest names in show business.

The son of James Boswell New ton Sr. a nd Dorot hea Newton, Jim Newton earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Texas at Austin and masters and doctorates from Yale.

His theatr ical sets were used in such stellar locations as the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Detroit’s Northland Playhouse, and the New Haven Opera House.

Boswell designed concerts sets for Neil Diamond, Anne Murray, Elton John, Gregg Allman and Barbara Streisand.

TELEVISION—He also had a lengthy career in television.

Newton was assistant art director for the Smothers Brothers and Jim Nabors var iet y series, for Flip Wilson and Tom Jones and for the 1971 Emmy Awards.

He moved on to become art director for several game shows and situation comedies.

And, yes, has designed sets for Alice Cooper in Concert and for the ABC special “Fred Astaire Salutes the Fox Musicials.”

TEACHER—Newton taught at UT-Austin, UCLA and Fresno State.

In 1986, hundreds of Newton’s scenery and costume designs were presented to the University of Texas at Austin.

Endowed scholarships in his honor were established at UTAustin and Fresno State.


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2011-08-18 digital edition



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