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Finding Aid for the William Bellin Papers, 1930-1996
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: William Bellin Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1930-1996
    Collection number: 295
    Creator: Bellin, William
    Extent: 4 Boxes 2 (linear ft); 4 Flat Oversize Boxes; 15 Oversize Map Folders
    Abstract: William Bellin was a costume, prop and set designer in the performing arts industry. In the course of his career, he was involved with a wide variety of projects including working with the UCLA Theatre Arts Department, Margaret Buxton's Originals, Irvin and Kenneth Feld, and production designer George Jenkins. The collection consists mainly of materials related to his professional career as graphic artist and designer and includes blueline set drawings; costume and prop sketches; playbills; graphic design samples; photographs and transparencies of display materials; and snapshots of scenic elements, floats and props.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Miss Norah Jones.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Bellin Papers (Collection 295). Performing Arts Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.


    William Wallace D'Andurand Bellin was born in Providence, RI, May 25, 1919. He was a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Department of Architecture (1937-41), where he gained experience designing settings and costumes for theater pageants and plays, especially influenced by Grace L. Ripley. During the same years, he did packaging design and architectural renderings in Providence, RI. Bellin also completed one year of study in motion picture set and costume design at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. From 1942-45, he worked as an engineering production illustrator at the Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo location. During this time, he was active as an actor and artist with local semi-professional companies. After a brief stay in New York (1946), Bellin returned to Los Angeles, and in 1947, he began his association with Margaret Buxton's Originals, a design firm specializing in display treatments for commercial and private properties. While at Buxton's he worked as a head designer and sample technician on a variety of projects, including displays and murals for Robinsons and The Broadway department stores.
    In 1950, Bellin joined the library at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a staff artist and curator of maps, while simultaneously continuing his work for Margaret Buxton until her retirement in 1954. At UCLA, Bellin was primarily responsible for designing publications, posters, and exhibits related to library activities. He also designed the library seal and endpapers that are still found in books throughout the library's collection. Bellin enrolled in the UCLA Theater Arts Department, and though he was initially occupied with acting, he was soon both acting and designing costumes and sets for several UCLA productions, including Caesar and Cleopatra (1956) and Henry IV, Part One. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1957, he was employed by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Operas as a production assistant to designer George Jenkins on Annie Get Your Gun and Ariadne auf Naxos.
    Bellin moved to New York in 1958, and over the next several decades, he worked on many theater productions in various capacities, including scenic, costume, and prop design. He continued his association with George Jenkins on projects such as Cue for Passion (1958), Tall Story (1959), and A Thousand Clowns (1962). He also built up a small scenic, costumes, and props business making statues, armor, masks, and jewelry for productions including Caligula (1960), The Tempest (1960), and The Royal Hunt of the Sun.
    In 1975, Bellin became a scenic consultant for various enterprises produced by Irvin and Kenneth Feld, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Ice Follies and Holidays on Ice Combined Shows, and Siegfried and Roy: Beyond Belief. He designed scenic elements, floats, and props. In the 1990s, Bellin served as a design consultant for the Sarasota Ballet, creating costumes for Peter and the Wolf (ca. 1992-93) and Walpurgis Night (1993-94). William Bellin died of congestive heart failure on July 18, 1995 in Sarasota, FL.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of materials reflecting the career of graphic artist and designer William Bellin. The bulk of the collection relates to his professional career as a costume, prop and set designer in the performing arts industry. Included are blueline set drawings, sketches, costume designs, and playbills, first for student productions with the UCLA Theater Arts Department and, after 1958, for New York stage productions working with art director George Jenkins and others. The projects from the UCLA Theatre Arts Dept. include Caesar and Cleopatra (1956) and Henry IV, Part One (1957), among others. Various George Jenkins projects include Cue for Passion (1958), Tall Story (1959), and A Thousand Clowns (1962), to name a few.
    There is a small amount of papers along with unidentified snapshots, mainly of floats, props, and scenic elements designed by Bellin for several Irvin and Kenneth Feld productions (aka Feld Productions), including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Ice Follies, and Siegfried and Roy. Additionally, there is a small amount of professional display material, which includes photographs and color transparencies of displays and murals for Margaret Buxton's Originals, mostly created for The Broadway department store. There are also a small number of graphic design samples for UCLA library-related projects. Of special interest is the manuscript for an unpublished technical manual written by Bellin, which focuses on the design of props, costumes, and scenic elements for theater and motion pictures. Personal/biographical material comprises Bellin's education and correspondence with friends or former associates. All folder/file titles for the collection were supplied by the processor.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1. Acting
    • Series 2. Correspondence
    • Series 3. Education
    • Series 4. Display Designs for Margaret Buxton's Originals
    • Series 5. Graphic Design and Illustration
    • Series 6. Performance Design
    • Series 7. Professional Affiliations
    • Series 8. Resumes
    • Series 9. Writings by Bellin

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Bellin, William--Archives
    Costume designers--United States--Archival resources.
    Set designers--United States--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Costume design drawings
    design drawings