Owen Randolph Lee, 42, designed sets, scenery for movies, television

May 06, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Owen Randolph Lee, a set designer whose extensive credits included outfitting the "Homicide" set, scenery for the Black Entertainment Network and such movies as "Beloved" and "Species 2," died Tuesday of colon cancer at Mercy Medical Center. He was 42 and lived in Northwest Baltimore.

Mr. Lee, who most recently worked painting sets for the Barry Levinson film "Liberty Heights," was a regular designer and scene painter for the Baltimore and Peabody opera companies. Last fall, he painted sets for a production of "Norma" at the Lyric Theatre.

His film credits include "Washington Square," "For Richer or Poorer," and "The Meteor Man," for which he was art director.

A tall man who dressed in the latest fashions, he was known as Randy and was a familiar backstage figure in Baltimore theatrical circles.

He began his career 20 years ago while a student at the Community College of Baltimore by dressing windows for the old Hamburger's men's store at Charles and Fayette streets. He later worked for Webster's men's shops, Casual Corner and the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Owings Mills mall.

"He was an efficient worker and competent man -- one of the people everyone wanted to hire," said his collaborator, Dale Davis. "The day I met him, he went right to work on the opera `Martha.' He worked 16 hours, slept six hours and came back to finish the set."

Born in Walbrook, Mr. Lee was a graduate of Walbrook High School and the Community College of Baltimore.

As a member of Design Arts Tech Co., a local design and scenery firm, he regularly constructed and painted sets in the 1980s for the Baltimore Opera Company and the Peabody Opera.

"He was a great carpenter who also bright a sense of humor to his work," said Doug Nelson, the Peabody Conservatory of Music's technical director. Mr. Lee worked on "The Magic Flute" and "The Abduction from the Serralio" for the school.

For the Black Entertainment Network in Washington, he designed sets for news, talk, children's and game shows.

He was hired by the Black Congressional Caucus to design theatrical backgrounds for its annual fashion shows and awards ceremonies.

Mr. Lee worked on the sets for locally produced television commercials for the Merry-Go-Round fashion chain and Schmidt's Blue Ribbon bread.

He was an on-set dresser for "Homicide: Life on the Streets" during the 1994-1995 television season. He also built scenery for the Great Blacks in Wax Museum on North Avenue.

In 1980, he married Victoria Johnson. They were divorced.

Services will be held at noon Saturday at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 3050 Liberty Heights Ave.

He is survived by a son, Owen R. Lee Jr.; his parents, Owen and Iris Brown Lee; a brother, Marc W. Lee; and a sister, Patrice Butler. All are of Baltimore.

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