Ret Turner was a wardrobe and costume designer best known for his collaborations with Bob Mackie and his work with Dolly Parton, Diana Ross and Cher. Turner was also a five-time Emmy Award winner, for the variety special Mitzi... Zings Into Spring; the comedic series Mama’s Family; the concert special Diana Ross: Red Hot Rhythm and Blues; the musical special Las Vegas: An All-Star 75th Anniversary; and the sketch comedy series Carol & Company. Turner was nominated for 23 Emmys in all.
He collaborated often with Mackie, particularly throughout the 1970s, when they worked together on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Sonny and Cher Show. Turner also partnered with Mackie and another costume designer, Ray Aghayan, to create the costume rental company Elizabeth Courtney Costumes, later known as Ret Turner Costume Rentals.
He also dressed Donny and Marie Osmond, Andy Williams, Mitzi Gaynor, Edie Adams, Bing Crosby, Bea Arthur and Ann Jillian. Additionally, for 20 years he served as the head of NBC Studios’ wardrobe department. He also did the wardrobe for several Emmy and Academy Awards telecasts as well as the SAG Awards and the Kennedy Center’s 25th anniversary special.
Turner got his start in fashion at the age of seven, when he began to work after school at his parent’s clothing store. He moved to Hollywood in 1950 with the hopes of becoming an actor, before ultimately turning to costume design. He began by assisting in the wardrobe department at NBC on shows hosted by Dinah Shore and Spike Jones.
He later worked on the series The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Andy Williams Show, the pilot for Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Jerry Lewis Show, Donny and Marie, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour.
Turner also contributed to the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Disney World in 1971, and EPCOT in 1982.
He died May 3, 2016, in West Hollywood, California. He was 87.