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Van Smith, designer for Divine, dead at 61

Dec. 9, 2006 at 2:54 PM   |   Comments

MARIANNA, Fla., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Van Smith, the designer for the costumes and makeup seen in the outlandish drag films of John Waters, has died in Florida of a heart attack.

He was 61.

The New York Times said Saturday that Smith, who was "admiringly called both an artist and a terrorist" for his outrageous get-ups and personas he created," was the man behind the public face of Devine, the transvestite star of Waters's early movies.

Smith, the Times said, also designed the costumes for all of Waters's films, and the makeup for the first six of them.

Smith used to describe the net effect of his work as a cross between Jayne Mansfield and Clarabell the Clown from the old Howdy Doody series.

Smith met Waters in the mid-1960s, while a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They were both bohemians of sorts who shared an interest in art, film and LSD, the Times said.

© 2006 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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