LOS ANGELES – Emmy Award-winning production designer Charles Lisanby, known for his lavish sets during the golden age of TV variety specials, died Aug. 23 in Los Angeles. He was 89.

According to his longtime agent and manager, Bob Goodman, Lisanby had recently fallen. The cause of death, according to Morgan’s Funeral Home, was sepsis.

Lisanby created huge, meticulous sets for specials starring Barry Manilow, Diana Ross and many others, as well as for an Oscars show and ice show telecasts. But he was a cultured world traveler who drove his assistants and crews to distraction not only for his attention to detail but also for insisting on listening to opera broadcasts as they worked.

He was also known in art circles for his close relationship with Andy Warhol in New York before their careers took different paths.

“He was not just someone born and raised on TV,” said producer-director Steve Binder, who worked with Lisanby on several shows, including the 1988 “Barry Manilow: Big Fun on Swing Street” that earned Lisanby one of his three Emmys for art direction. “He had theatrical experience, opera, worked in Radio City Music Hall.”


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