Oscar-winning set decorator Gretchen Rau dies at 66

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Gretchen Rau, a veteran film set decorator who shared on Academy Award this year for her work on “Memoirs of a Geisha,” has died. She was 66.

Rau died March 29 of a brain tumor at her home in Northport, N.Y., her son Taylor Pattison told the Los Angeles Times in Sunday’s editions.

On “Memoirs of a Geisha,” she helped evoke early 20th century Japan with a lavish production set decorated with rice paper screens, oil lamps, teacups and other hallmarks of the time. Rau and production designer John Myhre won an Oscar for art direction for their work on the film.

“She had exquisite taste and always knew the right thing to bring onto a set,” Myhre said.

Though Rau was too ill to attend last month’s ceremony, she watched on television with her family. When she finally held the statue a few days later, “She just lit up,” Pattison said.

Over a 25-year career, Rau worked on more than 30 films. Her credits include “A River Runs Through It,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Nobody’s Fool,” “The Crucible” and “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.”

Her last film was “The Good Shepherd,” directed by Robert De Niro and due for release this year.

A New Orleans-native, Rau moved to New York City in 1966 and joined a commercial production house before moving to feature films.

Besides Pattison, Rau is survived by two other sons, two daughters, a sister, a brother and four grandchildren. A private service was scheduled.

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