James J. Murakami, Emmy-Winning Art Director Dies at 91

James J. Murakami, the admired art director, production designer and set designer who earned Emmy nominations for Deadwood and Oscar nominations for Changeling, has passed away at the age of 91.

Murakami died of a fall on December 15 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Murakami served as assistant art director to production designer Dean Tavoularis and director Francis Ford Coppola on The Godfather Part II (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), One from the Heart (1981) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).

He then partnered with production designer-art director Henry Bumstead on the Eastwood-helmed Unforgiven (1992), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).

James J. Murakami, Emmy-Winning Art Director Dies at 91

Murakami also served as an art director on Barry Levinson's The Natural (1984);  In Comes a Horseman (1978) Alan J.  as assistant art director to Pakula, Harold Ramis on Groundhog Day (1993) and Chris Columbus on Mrs. Doubtfire (1993);  and as a set designer for Wim Wenders on Hammett (1982), Warren Beatty on Dick Tracy (1990), Phil Alden Robinson on Sneakers (1992) and Garry Marshall on The Princess Diaries (2001).


Murakami received a pair of Emmy nominations for his work on HBO's Deadwood, winning one in 2005.

Born in Sacramento on June 4, 1931, Murakami was raised in Campbell, California, before he and his family were interned in a war resettlement camp at the start of World War II.

After the war, Murakami moved to Venice, California, where he attended Venice High School and then studied at the Chouinard Art Institute.  He spent the next three years working as a delineator and consultant for an architect before getting a job as a set designer at ZIV television studios in 1958.

His influential work includes The Escape Artist (1982), Wargame (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), *Batteries Not Included (1987), Midnight Run (1988), Rising Sun (1993), Crimson Tide (1995)  ), I Love Trouble (1994), The Postman (1997) and The Scorpion King (2002).

Murakami retired in 2016 after working on Sully, and two years later received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his daughter, Patricia, and stepchildren John and Sandy.

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