John DeCuir was born June 4, 1918, in San Francisco and he was destined to be an artist. When DeCuir stumbled upon a sign painter who offered him a paintbrush, he was immediately drawn to the artform. Although his father wanted him to be a concert violinist, he started drawing in his head while practicing violin, envisioning the art on the tiled wall. Each afternoon, he’d put his idea to paper. Eventually, he could create an image square by square, starting at the top left corner and drawing down to the bottom right with picture-perfect accuracy. He went on to use his artistic abilities as an art director and production designer in Hollywood. In the course of his career, he designed the productions of classic movies such as Cleopatra, The King and I, and South Pacific. DeCuir earned eleven Oscar nominations and won three for his work on Cleopatra, The King and I, and Hello Dolly!.
DeCuir died on October 29, 1991 and is survived by his son, John DeCuir, Jr., who is also a designer.
John DeCuir Jr. practically took his first steps on a film set. Learning at the feet of his father, it was inevitable that DeCuir Jr. would become a designer. While attending college and studying architecture, he was a design intern with the five-year production of Cleopatra. “I am probably the only person who worked their way through college on one film!” says DeCuir Jr. Through his experience and skill, he became a distinguished production designer like his father with titles such as Top Gun, Turner & Hooch, and Sister Act 2. He also worked with DeCuir Sr. on Ghostbusters as Art Director. He went on to work as an architect and designed projects with Six Flags, NBCUniversal, and Walt Disney Company’s ventures. DeCuir Jr. has taught at the UCLA Performing Arts Program and USC’s School of Cinema in the graduate program. He currently resides in Kentucky with his wife and is teaching classes on the art of production design at Asbury University.
June 4, 1918
John Decuir born in San Fransisco
At age 6, DeCuir begins to study the violin. After discovering the paintbrush, DeCuir splits his time between mastering the violin and the canvas. He practices the violin each morning, meanwhile drawing pictures in his head to redraw later from memory. DeCuir eventually acquires the ability the draw from one corner to the other like a laser printer.