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TOD KINGMAN 1910 - 1987

Tod Kingman - Courtesy Terry PowellT
od Kingman, the well known and extremely talented theatrical scenic designer, had a long and varied career in the entertainment industry, and theatre in particular. In the days before the second world war this included scenic and poster design for the cine-variety theatres owned by the Hyams Brothers at the Trocadero, Elephant and Castle, Gaumont State, Kilburn and other venues.

He was not called into the armed services during the war and continued to work as a designer and painter at a time when artists would hire a paint frame and execute their own designs. During this period he worked for and with Edward Delaney, who was one of the leading designers and scene painters of his day.

In 1944 Tod opened his own studios, Key Studios Limited, on a bomb site, where the Elms Lesters painting rooms stood and remain today in Flitcroft Street - London under their former name, where he not only designed the scenery but also operated as a contractor, building and painting scenery.

Tod Kingman image and details from The Talk Of The Town Programme 1958 - Click for feature on this programme and venueDuring the seventies his company merged with Brunskill and Loveday, which was then owned by the Stoll Corporation, to become Brunskill and Kingman. Later this partnership was joined by Victor Mara Limited to become Mara and Kingman.

Left - Tod Kingman image and details from a Talk Of The Town Programme 1958 - Click for feature on this programme and venue.

Tod then became a freelance designer from 1984 until his death. From this time and up to the seventies he was responsible for, amongst other things, the scenic design of many of the London Palladium revues that were produced by Robert Nesbitt and also for the design of 20 of his Talk of the Town extravaganzas. He also designed many of the London Palladium pantomimes during the heyday of these annual productions.

Through his association with Howard and Wyndham and their then Head of Production,
Dick Hurran, he designed many of the Five Past Eight shows for the Alhambra Theatre,
Glasgow and the famous Starlight Room production. He also worked as designer and contractor on notable productions at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas and for the spectacular productions staged by Charlie Henchis at the Casino du Libana in Beirut.

In the eighties he worked with Ross Taylor on The Sound of Music at the Apollo Victoria and The King and I at the London Palladium.

Tod was also a well known designer of night clubs and restaurants which included a major project, for Robert Nesbitt, converting the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool into the Stardust Gardens Cabaret. Through his association with Trusthouse Forte, he was responsible for a large proportion of the interior decor of the Talk of the Town theatre restaurant in London.

He also redesigned entertainment facilities in Blackpool and Southend converting some of their pier buildings into show bars.

This biography kindly contributed by Terry Powell 2004

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