Obit of the Day: Howard Hughes’ Designer
When you work for a billionaire recluse you recognize that you will not have many face-to-face meetings with your boss. Mario Zamparelli understood that. Zamparelli, who worked for movie mogul/aviator/businessman Howard Hughes for more than two decades, admitted that he did not see Hughes for eighteen years, from 1958 until Hughes’ death in 1976.
Hughes found Zamparelli in the 1950’s at RKO Pictures, when the controversial filmmaker was looking for a poster designer. Zamparelli agreed to work with Hughes. Zamparelli’s most famous design was the poster for the 1955 film, Son of Sinbad.
Hughes was so impressed with Zamparelli’s work that he made him his executive designers. Zamparelli was charged with creating logos, uniforms, and other design details for all of Hughes’ various companies.
His most eye-catching design was for Hughes Airwest. Zamparelli’s gold-and-blue flight attendant outfits are as stunning today as they were forty years ago. The uniforms were created to match the carrier’s fleet, which were all painted the same bright yellow. (Zamparelli also designed the Hughes Airwest logo.)
To accompany the blinding color schemes, Zamparelli created a ad campaign that called Airwest the “Top Banana.”
Zamparelli would also design the interiors of Hughes’ various Las Vegas casinos, rhe Howard Hughest Medical Institute and TWA (Trans World Airlines).
Following Hughes’ death Zamparelli returned to his first love, painting and became an accomplished artist.
Mario Zamparelli died at the age of 91.
Sources: Miami Herald, Wikipedia, http://www.marioarmondzamparelli.com/
(The image is a painting of Howard Hughes completed by Zamparelli prior to 1958 when Hughes went into seclusion. It is the only known portrait for Hughes for which he sat. According to Zamparelli Hughes only game him two days to complete the painting. It is currently in the collection of the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, http://digital.library.unlv.edu/objects/hughes/94.
Other images: Son of Sinbad - movieposters.com; Airwest plane - 60sairlineantiques.net; flight attendant uniforms - seattle pi.com)