Carnegie Mellon University

The Piper

CMU Community News

Piper Logo
May 13, 2013

Anderson Feted in Grand Fashion

By Pam Wigley

After more than 40 years of service to the School of Drama, Barbara Anderson was celebrated at a reception and dinner on Saturday, April 20. Nearly 150 people greeted her in the Purnell Center Lobby.

School of Drama Head Peter Cooke welcomed the crowd and congratulated Anderson on her extraordinary career at CMU and in the field of costume design.

"Her longevity and impact on the field of design in theatre, film and television has made her a remarkable talent in the pantheon of great American designers," Cooke said in a press release prior to the event.

Executive Vice President and Provost Mark Kamlet spoke on behalf of the university's leadership team and noted her service to CMU, particularly her participation on numerous committees.

The reception was followed by a private dinner in the John Wells Studio, which was transformed by the event committee of faculty, staff and students from the School of Drama. From centerpieces of glittering platform shoes overflowing with flowers to bright fabric sashes puddling to the floor to crystal chandeliers sparkling above the crowd, the evening was the perfect tribute.

"Barbara's influence on costume design, and designers in general in the spheres of theatre, film and television, cannot be underestimated. Several generations of designers can trace roots to Barbara," noted John Shaffner (A'76), former student and half of the award-winning team Production Design by Shaffner/Stewart.

"If you were lucky enough to be one of her students, you practice, carry forward and pass along the traditions of Barbara's teachings," agreed Joe Stewart (A'77).

Anderson was honored during her academic career with the university's Ryan Award and the College of Fine Arts' Hornbostel Award, both for excellence in teaching.

She also co-authored the textbook "Costume Design" with her husband Cletus, a former CMU design professor.

Anderson's prolific design career in film, television, opera and theater includes many George Romero (A'61) productions such as "Creepshow" and "Day Of The Dead"; PBS productions such as the American Playhouse film "The Silence At Bethany," the Emmy Award-winning "Leatherstocking Tales," "Decades of Decision," and the "Once Upon a Classic" series, among others; specialty costumes for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"; and historical costumes for the John Heinz Regional History Center.

Anderson was accompanied by her daughter, Catherine (A'89), and son, Christopher, and her grandchildren Taylor and Madeline. She thanked the crowd for a lovely evening and tipped her hat to all who made the event happen.

"It's been an honor to call Pittsburgh home, and it's been a true privilege to be part of the School of Drama family," she said.

A red carpet moment: Barbara Anderson is accompanied by her children, Catherine and Christopher.

Gary Kline welcomes Barbara Anderson to the stage at a gala in her honor.