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Van Smith dies at
61

Van Smith dies at
61

Van Smith, the creative mind behind the costumes and makeup in John Waters's movies, died of a heart attack December 5 at his home in Marianna, Fla. Smith is credited with the creation in the 1970s of Divine, who set the standard for modern drag.

"When we started in those days, drag queens were square," Waters told The New York Times in a phone interview. "They hated Divine; they wanted to be [1940s Miss America] Bess Myerson. And Divine would show up in a see-through miniskirt with a chain saw instead of a pocketbook."

Waters and Smith worked together to achieve their films' iconic look starting with Pink Flamingo in 1972, starring the 300-pound Divine. Smith once said that Divine's look for the film was a cross between Jayne Mansfield and Clarabell the clown, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Born Walter Avant Smith Jr. in August 1945, he graduated in 1968 from the Maryland Institute College of Art and lived in Baltimore. According to the Los Angeles Times, he also was a fashion illustrator in New York, owned an antique store in Baltimore, and volunteered at an animal rescue in Florida. (The Advocate)

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