John Mollo

Active - 1977 - 2001  |   Born - Mar 18, 1931   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Science Fiction, Historical Film, Epic

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Biography by Bruce Eder

Academy Award-winning costume designer John Mollo was born in London, England in 1931. As a boy, he displayed a passionate interest in the history, design, and evolution of European and American military uniforms, which formed the basis for a long and successful career in movies. His older brother, Andrew Mollo, shared this interest and had a similar and earlier route into movies when he became the costume designer and, later, co-director and co-producer of It Happened Here. John Mollo was already well known for his expertise among military enthusiasts during the '60s when he followed his brother into the business as a technical advisor on Tony Richardson's Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). During the '60s and early '70s, John Mollo wrote and illustrated six books on the subject of uniforms and military costumes, one of which became a standard reference source within the field (Military Fashion). He subsequently worked on Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Barry Lyndon (1975) as a historical and military advisor, and by the mid-'70s he was a costume designer, making his debut in that capacity on George Lucas's Star Wars (1977) (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) for which he won his first of two Academy Awards. His later work included Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Outland (1981), and Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982), for which he shared an Oscar with Bhanu Athaiya for costume design. In television, he also worked on Wagner (1983) and The Jewel in the Crown (1984) as an advisor. Most of his activity during the '80s was as a costume designer on such feature films as The Lords of Discipline (1983), Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984), Revolution (1985), and Cry Freedom (1987). During the '90s, Mollo was the designer on Chaplin and The Three Musketeers (1993), but was turning more toward television work on such historical subjects as Sharpe's Rifles and the miniseries adaptations of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower stories, interspersed with fantasy films such as The Jungle Book (1994) and the science fiction vehicle Event Horizon (1997).

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