Ann Roth

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Ann Roth
Ann Bishop Roth[1]

(1931-10-30) October 30, 1931 (age 92)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
OccupationCostume designer
Years active1957–present

Ann Bishop Roth (born October 30, 1931) is an American costume designer. She has designed the costumes of various prominent films, and has been nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, winning twice for The English Patient (1996) and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020). In the 2023 movie Barbie, Roth, at 91 years old, appears onscreen to share a pivotal[2] scene with Barbie (played by Margot Robbie).

Life and career[edit]

Roth was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Eleanor and James Roth.[1] Roth is a Carnegie Mellon graduate who began her career as a scenery painter for the Pittsburgh Opera. She intended to remain in the field of production design until she met Irene Sharaff at the Bucks County Playhouse. Sharaff invited her to California to assist her with costumes on the film Brigadoon and suggested Roth apprentice with her for five films and five Broadway productions before setting out on her own.[3]

Roth's first Hollywood film was 1964's The World of Henry Orient, where her designs included "monogrammed handmade yellow silk pajamas" for glamorous womanizer Peter Sellers.[2]

According to Glenn Frankel, Roth "designed not just costumes but characters" for the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.[4][5] Roth found elegant but grimy white pants for Dustin Hoffman's character Ratso Rizzo on street-sale tables in New York City. Because Jon Voight's fringed suede jacket had to "look real and unhip," Roth made it herself. For Brenda Vaccaro's socialite character to wear in a sex scene, Roth paid $200 for a fox-fur jacket owned by one of her neighbors.[6]

Roth as costume designer created a "show-stopping" nightgown for Barbra Streisand to wear in her first non-musical film The Owl and the Pussycat (1970). The short black nightgown featured appliqué pink hands cupping the breasts[7] and (to quote Roth's own description, "a heart on her pee-pee."[2] Interviewed in 2013 about the origins of the costume idea, Roth said that her research included "looking for dirty, erotic, skuzzy underwear" in the pornographic magazine Screw, after which "somehow or another I made it up."[8] Roth later re-used her hands-on-breasts design for the 2013 stage play The Nance,[8] which won that year's Tony Award for costume design.[9]

Roth's first Oscar nomination was for 1984's Places in the Heart, set in Depression-era Texas.[10] Roth persuaded Sally Field that, for her "going-into-town-to-ask-for-a-loan-at-the-bank" scenes, a 1930s-type crotchless girdle would help her to walk and sit the right way.[2] The costume Oscar that year, however, went to Miloš Forman's Amadeus.[11]

Roth's costumes for three distinct time frames in The English Patient (1996) earned her first Oscar. According to producer Saul Zaentz, Roth worked for half her usual salary on the film "because she believed in the screenplay."[12] Roth's research for the costumes included the British Royal Geographical Society archives and 1930s photos of Egypt by photojournalist Lee Miller. Many of the film's varied military uniforms were authentic from the period; others were copied line-for-line from originals by a Savile Row tailor.[13][14]

Also in 1996, Roth did costumes for The Birdcage, a comedy film starring starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as the flamboyant owners of a Florida drag club. Talking about his costume, Williams remembered "those ballroom pants and the silk shirts with the shoulder pads. The details were amazing. This was a guy who was still living in the ’70s. The clothes captured exactly who Armand was for me."[12]

Her most-awarded film was 2020's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, where her costume designs (including flapper costumes and a rubber body suit for Viola Davis based on the body measurements of Aretha Franklin) won the Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence in Period Film, Britain's BAFTA, and the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.[15]

In the 2023 film Barbie, Roth appears onscreen in a cameo role, portraying and credited as "the woman on a bench." In the scene, Barbie sits down besides Roth and tells the 91 year-old that she is "so beautiful", and Roth responds with a smile, "I know it."[2] In a Rolling Stone interview, director Greta Gerwig said that the brief scene "doesn’t lead anywhere" but "If I cut the scene, I don’t know what this movie is about."[16] Maureen Dowd in The New York Times described Roth's interaction with Barbie as a "pivotal scene."[2]

Roth's more than one hundred screen credits for costume design include The World of Henry Orient, Midnight Cowboy, Klute, Working Girl, Silkwood, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Mambo Kings, The Birdcage, Primary Colors, Cold Mountain, Closer, Freedomland, The Good Shepherd, Margot at the Wedding, Mamma Mia!, Evening, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Roth's dozens of stage credits include The Odd Couple, The Star-Spangled Girl, Purlie, Seesaw, They're Playing Our Song, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Biloxi Blues, Butley, The Vertical Hour, Deuce, and The Waverly Gallery.

Multiple collaborations[edit]



Year Title Director Notes
1964 The World of Henry Orient George Roy Hill
1966 A Fine Madness Irvin Kershner
1967 Up the Down Staircase Robert Mulligan
1968 Sweet November Robert Ellis Miller
Pretty Poison Noel Black
1969 Midnight Cowboy John Schlesinger
1970 The Owl and the Pussycat Herbert Ross
The People Next Door David Greene
Jenny George Bloomfield
1971 The Pursuit of Happiness Robert Mulligan
They Might Be Giants Anthony Harvey
Klute Alan J. Pakula
1972 The Valachi Papers Terence Young with Giorgio Desideri
1974 Crazy Joe Carlo Lizzani
Law and Disorder Ivan Passer
1975 The Day of the Locust John Schlesinger
Mandingo Richard Fleischer
The Happy Hooker Nicholas Sgarro
1976 Burnt Offerings Dan Curtis
Murder by Death Robert Moore
Drum Steve Carver
Marathon Man John Schlesinger with Robert De Mora; uncredited
Independence John Huston Short
1977 The Goodbye Girl Herbert Ross
1978 Coming Home Hal Ashby
Nunzio Paul Williams
California Suite Herbert Ross
1979 Hair Miloš Forman
Promises in the Dark Jerome Hellman
1980 Dressed to Kill Brian De Palma with Gary Jones
9 to 5 Colin Higgins
The Island Michael Ritchie
1981 Only When I Laugh Glenn Jordan
Second-Hand Hearts Hal Ashby
Rollover Alan J. Pakula
Blow Out Brian De Palma
Honky Tonk Freeway John Schlesinger
1982 The World According to Garp George Roy Hill
1983 Silkwood Mike Nichols
The Man Who Loved Women Blake Edwards
The Survivors Michael Ritchie
1984 Places in the Heart Robert Benton
1985 Jagged Edge Richard Marquand
Sweet Dreams Karel Reisz
The Slugger's Wife Hal Ashby
Maxie Paul Aaron
1986 The Morning After Sidney Lumet
Heartburn Mike Nichols
1988 The Unbearable Lightness of Being Philip Kaufman
Stars and Bars Pat O'Connor
Biloxi Blues Mike Nichols
Funny Farm George Roy Hill
Working Girl Mike Nichols
1989 Her Alibi Bruce Beresford
Family Business Sidney Lumet
The January Man Pat O'Connor with Neil Spisak
1990 Everybody Wins Karel Reisz
Q & A Sidney Lumet with Neil Spisak
The Bonfire of the Vanities Brian De Palma
Postcards from the Edge Mike Nichols
Pacific Heights John Schlesinger with Bridget Kelly
1991 Regarding Henry Mike Nichols
1992 The Mambo Kings Arne Glimcher with Gary Jones and Bridget Kelly
School Ties Robert Mandel
Consenting Adults Alan J. Pakula with Gary Jones
A Stranger Among Us Sidney Lumet
1993 Dennis the Menace Nick Castle with Bridget Kelly
Dave Ivan Reitman
1994 Guarding Tess Hugh Wilson with Sue Gandy
Wolf Mike Nichols
1995 Sabrina Sydney Pollack with Gary Jones
Just Cause Arne Glimcher
1996 The English Patient Anthony Minghella
Before and After Barbet Schroeder
The Birdcage Mike Nichols
1997 In & Out Frank Oz
1998 The Siege Edward Zwick
Primary Colors Mike Nichols with Gary Jones
Hush Jonathan Darby
1999 The Out-of-Towners Sam Weisman
The Talented Mr. Ripley Anthony Minghella with Gary Jones
2000 Finding Forrester Gus Van Sant
What Planet Are You From? Mike Nichols
2001 Someone like You Tony Goldwyn with Michelle Matland
2002 The Hours Stephen Daldry
Signs M. Night Shyamalan
Changing Lanes Roger Michell
2003 Cold Mountain Anthony Minghella with Carlo Poggioli
2004 The Stepford Wives Frank Oz
The Village M. Night Shyamalan
Closer Mike Nichols
2006 The Good Shepherd Robert De Niro
Freedomland Joe Roth with Michelle Matland
2007 Evening Lajos Koltai
Margot at the Wedding Noah Baumbach
2008 Mamma Mia! Phyllida Lloyd
Doubt John Patrick Shanley
What Just Happened Barry Levinson
The Reader Stephen Daldry with Donna Maloney
2009 Julie & Julia Nora Ephron
2010 Rabbit Hole John Cameron Mitchell
Last Night Massy Tadjedin
2011 A Little Bit of Heaven Nicole Kassell
The Resident Antti Jokinen
Mr. Popper's Penguins Mark Waters
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Stephen Daldry
2012 Safe Boaz Yakin with Michelle Matland
Hope Springs David Frankel
2013 The Way, Way Back Nat Faxon & Jim Rash with Michelle Matland
2014 Lullaby Andrew Levitas
While We're Young Noah Baumbach
2015 Ricki and the Flash Jonathan Demme
2016 The Girl on the Train Tate Taylor with Michelle Matland
2017 The Yellow Birds Alexandre Moors with Lisa Loen and Donna Maloney
The Only Living Boy in New York Marc Webb with Michelle Matland
The Post[17] Steven Spielberg
2018 The Seagull Michael Mayer
2020 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom George C. Wolfe
2021 The Humans Stephen Karam
2022 White Noise Noah Baumbach
2023 Barbie Greta Gerwig As actor; plays "The Woman on the Bench"


Year Title Director Notes
1971 All the Way Home Fred Coe Television movie
1972 The Snoop Sisters Leonard B. Stern Episode: "The Female Instinct"
1974 Great Performances Kirk Browning & Ellis Rabb Episode: "Enemies"
1975 Valley Forge Fielder Cook Television movie
1977 The Royal Family Kirk Browning & Ellis Rabb
The Best of Families Several Miniseries
1987 American Playhouse Jerry Zaks & Kirk Browning Episode: "The House of Blue Leaves"
2001 Wit Mike Nichols Television movie, HBO
2003 Angels in America Miniseries, HBO
2011 Mildred Pierce Todd Haynes


Work as a costume designer[18]

Year Title Venue
1957 Small War on Murray Hill Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
1958 Maybe Tuesday Playhouse Theatre, Broadway
Make a Million Morosco Theatre, Broadway
Disenchanted Coronet Theatre, Broadway
1959 A Desert Incident John Golden Theatre, Broadway
Chéri Morosco Theatre, Broadway
Take Me Along Shubert Theatre, Broadway
1960 The Cool World Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway
Face of a Hero
1961 A Far Country Music Box Theatre, Broadway
Purlie Victorious Longacre Theatre, Broadway
Look, We've Come Through Hudson Theatre, Broadway
1962 Isle of Children Cort Theatre, Broadway
Venus at Large Morosco Theatre, Broadway
1963 Natural Affection Booth Theatre, Broadway
Children from Their Games Morosco Theatre, Broadway
A Case of Libel Longacre Theatre, Broadway
The Public Eye Morosco Theatre, Broadway
1964 The Last Analysis Belasco Theatre, Broadway
Slow Dance on the Killing Ground Plymouth Theatre, Broadway
I Had a Ball Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway
1965 The Odd Couple Plymouth Theatre, Broadway
Mrs. Dally John Golden Theatre, Broadway
The Impossible Years Playhouse Theatre, Broadway
1966 The Wayward Stork Richard Rodgers Theatre, Broadway
The Star-Spangled Girl Plymouth Theatre, Broadway
1967 Something Different Cort Theatre, Broadway
1968 Happiness Is Just a Little Thing Called a Rolls Royce Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
1969 Play It Again, Sam Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
My Daughter, Your Son Booth Theatre, Broadway
Tiny Alice ANTA Theatre, Broadway
Three Sisters
1970 Gantry George Abbot Theatre, Broadway
Purlie ANTA Theatre, Broadway
The Engagement Baby Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway
1971 Father's Day John Golden Theatre, Broadway
1972 Fun City Morosco Theatre, Broadway
Twelfth Night Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
Children! Children! Ritz Theatre, Broadway
6 Rms Riv Vu Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway
Lunt-Fontaine Theatre, Broadway
Enemies Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
1972–73 Purlie Billy Rose Theatre, Broadway
1973 The Merchant of Venice Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
Seesaw Uris Theatre, Broadway
Mark Hellinger Theatre, Broadway
The Women 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1976 The Royal Family Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway
The Heiress Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
1977 The Importance of Being Earnest Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway
1978 Do You Turn Somersaults? 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1978–82 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
1978–79 The Crucifer of Blood Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway
1978 First Monday in the Morning Majestic Theatre, Broadway
1979–81 They're Playing Our Song Imperial Theatre, Broadway
1979 Strangers John Golden Theatre, Broadway
1980–81 Lunch Hour Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
1982–84 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway
1982–83 Present Laughter Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway
1983 The Misanthrope
1984 Open Admissions Music Box Theatre, Broadway
1984–85 Design for Living Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway
Hurlyburly Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
1985–86 Biloxi Blues Neil Simon Theatre, Broadway
1985 Arms and the Man Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway
1985–86 The Odd Couple Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
Singin' in the Rain Gershwin Theatre, Broadway
1986–87 Social Security Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
The House of Blue Leaves Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway
Plymouth Theatre, Broadway
Born Yesterday 46th Street Theatre, Broadway
1992 Death and the Maiden Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
A Small Family Business Music Box Theatre, Broadway
1993 Any Given Day Longacre Theatre, Broadway
1994 What's Wrong With This Picture? Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
1996–97 Present Laughter Walter Kerr Theatre, Play
2000–02 The Tale of the Allergist's Wife
2005–06 The Odd Couple Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Broadway
2006–07 Butley Booth Theatre, Broadway
The Vertical Hour Music Box Theatre, Broadway
2007 The Year of Magical Thinking Booth Theatre, Broadway
Deuce Music Box Theatre, Broadway
2009 Hedda Gabler American Airlines Theatre, Broadway
2011 The Book of Mormon Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Broadway
2012 Death of a Salesman Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
Gore Vidal's The Best Man Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway
2013 The Nance Lyceum Theatre, Broadway
The Testament of Mary Walter Kerr Theatre, Broadway
I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers Booth Theatre, Broadway
2013–14 Betrayal Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
2014 A Raisin in the Sun
2014–15 This is Our Youth Cort Theatre, Broadway
It's Only a Play Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway
A Delicate Balance John Golden Theatre, Broadway
2015 Fish in the Dark Cort Theatre, Broadway
2015–16 Sylvia
Misery Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
2016 Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical
Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Music Box Theatre, Broadway
Blackbird Belasco Theatre, Broadway
2016–17 The Front Page Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
2017–18 Meteor Shower Cort Theatre, Broadway
2018 Three Tall Women John Golden Theatre, Broadway
The Iceman Cometh Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway
Carousel Imperial Theatre, Broadway
To Kill a Mockingbird Shubert Theatre, Broadway
2018–19 The Waverly Gallery John Golden Theatre, Broadway
The Prom Longacre Theatre, Broadway
2019 King Lear Cort Theatre, Broadway
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus Booth Theatre, Broadway
2020 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1984 Best Costume Design Places in the Heart Nominated [19]
1996 The English Patient Won [20][21]
1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated [22]
2002 The Hours Nominated [23]
2020 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Won [24][25][26]

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1986 Outstanding Costumes - Miniseries Roanoak: Part 1 Nominated [27]
2004 Angels in America Nominated
2011 Mildred Pierce Nominated

Tony Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1965 Best Producer of a Play Slow Dance on the Killing Ground Nominated
1976 Best Costume Design The Royal Family Nominated
1979 The Crucifer of Blood Nominated
1986 The House of Blue Leaves Nominated
2011 Best Costume Design in a Musical The Book of Mormon Nominated
2013 Best Costume Design of a Play The Nance Won [28]
2016 Best Costume Design in a Musical Shuffle Along Nominated [29]
2018 Carousel Nominated [30]
Best Costume Design of a Play Three Tall Women Nominated
The Iceman Cometh Nominated
2019 To Kill a Mockingbird Nominated [31]
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus Nominated


  1. ^ a b "The Evening Sun from Hanover, Pennsylvania on July 6, 1964 · 6". 6 July 1964.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dowd, Maureen (July 23, 2023). "Ann Roth Is Hollywood's Secret Weapon". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2023. Ms. Roth has a pivotal scene with Margot Robbie in the "Barbie" movie, directed by her friend Greta Gerwig (Ms. Roth calls her "Gret").
  3. ^ "Ann Roth at". Archived from the original on 2014-10-20. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
  4. ^ @frankelglenn (March 13, 2021). "How the great Ann Roth designed not just costumes but characters for Midnight Cowboy" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Frankel, Glenn (March 13, 2021). "Dressing Ratso". Air Mail. Retrieved July 30, 2023. Roth told me she starts from a simple premise: she doesn't just make costumes; she makes characters. The idea was to find the clothes Ratso would have bought from the places he would have bought them—or, in his case, the places he might have stolen them from
  6. ^ "Half a Century Later, the Clothes of Midnight Cowboy Still Speak Volumes". GQ. March 3, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2023. As Midnight Cowboy's wildly talented costume designer Ann Roth demonstrated, clothes could mean as much, psychologically, as a performance or a line of dialogue
  7. ^ "Young Barbra Streisand stuns in unearthed pictures as she dons show-stopping nightgown". Daily Express. April 23, 2022. Her outfit featured a polka dot pattern and diamantés sewn into the spaghetti strap top. The unusual blouse also boasted a pattern cut in the shape of hands over either breast.
  8. ^ a b "Brooklyn designer suing Yoko Ono, but sexy concept dates to Barbra Streisand". Brooklyn Eagle. March 26, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2023. A Brooklyn fashion designer is suing Yoko Ono for $10 million, claiming she ripped off her sexy clothing line featuring flimsy fabrics, cutouts and "hands" positioned over strategic body parts – a look made famous in 1970 by Barbra Streisand in the smash film The Owl and the Pussycat.
  9. ^ Official list of 2013 Tony Award Winners
  10. ^ "The talented Ann Roth". Live Design Online. February 1, 2000. Retrieved August 1, 2023. There are very few people who have done as much in the 30s as I have," she says, "but when I did English Patient, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing it without starting research again.
  11. ^ "Do the Oscars really reward the best costumes?" BBC (January 30, 2020)
  12. ^ a b "Costumes with character". Morning Call. April 3, 1997. Retrieved August 3, 2023. Roth, a native of Hanover, York County, has lived in Martins Creek since 1969, when she moved there from Manhattan with her husband, the now-deceased lighting designer Harry Green.
  13. ^ "A Thousand Shades of Weather-Beaten Khaki". LA Times. November 14, 1996. Retrieved August 3, 2023. Relying on such sources as the British Royal Geographic Society archives, including photos of a map-making expedition believed to have included de Almasy, Roth learned that, on safari, the men occasionally dressed in suits and the women in furs.
  14. ^ "Ann Roth". Netflix Queue. April 1, 2021. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  15. ^ "Oscar Winning Costume Designer Ann Roth: "It's Not The Costume, It's The Character"". The Observer. January 26, 2022. Retrieved July 30, 2023. In October, she received her third Lifetime Achievement Award—this, the Ming Cho Lee Award from the Henry Hewes Design Awards. She also has the Irene Sharaff Award from the Theater Development Fund and a place in the Theater Hall of Fame on the walls of the Gershwin.
  16. ^ "The Brain Behind 'Barbie': Inside the Brilliant Mind of Greta Gerwig". Rolling Stone. July 3, 2023. Retrieved July 30, 2023. I love that scene so much. And the older woman on the bench is the costume designer Ann Roth. She's a legend.
  17. ^ IMDB
  18. ^ "Internet Broadway Date Base: Ann Roth". IBDB. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  19. ^ "The 57th Academy Awards (1985) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  20. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (March 25, 1997). "'English Patient' Dominates Oscars With Nine, Including Best Picture". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  21. ^ "The 69th Academy Awards (1997) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  22. ^ "Oscar nominations 2000". The Guardian. February 15, 2000. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  23. ^ "Complete List of Oscar winners". The Guardian. March 24, 2003. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  24. ^ Davis, Clayton (2021-03-11). "2021 Oscars Predictions: All Awards Categories". Variety. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  25. ^ Ordoña, Michael (April 25, 2021). "Ann Roth is now the oldest woman to win a competitive Oscar". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  26. ^ Coleman, Nancy (April 26, 2021). "Firsts and other breakthroughs at the Oscars". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  27. ^ "IMDB: Ann Roth". Internet Movie Data Base. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  28. ^ Purcell, Carey " 'Kinky Boots', 'Vanya and Sonia', 'Pippin' and 'Virginia Woolf?' Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards" Archived 2013-06-11 at the Wayback Machine, June 9, 2013
  29. ^ "2016 Tony Awards: The Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 June 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  30. ^ "Tony Award Winners 2018: The Complete List". 11 June 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2021.
  31. ^ "Hadestown, The Ferryman Lead 2019 Tony Award Winners". Vulture. 9 June 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2021.

External links[edit]