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John Root designed scenery for theater and for television. He designed sets for fifty-three Broadway plays, including Red Harvest, Harvey, and Kiss and Tell. Among his designs was one for the Broadway hit, George Washington Slept Here (1940) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. In this play, he designed a crumbling Buck's County farm house, which is falling apart at the top of show and is returned to its former glory by the end of the evening. Root met his future wife, actress Margaret Mullen, while they were both working on Red Harvest in 1937. They were married in Doylestown that same year and later settled in Wycombe, Pennsylvania. He maintained an office in New York and, in the late 1950s, designed scenery for several well-known television shows such as the Perry Como Show and the Armstrong Circle Theater. In the 1960s, he changed careers and formed his own real estate company in Lumberville. He moved to Solebury in 1964 with his wife and remained there until his death, having made Bucks County his permanent home for forty-four years.
Photograph of John Root. Image courtesy of Margaret Mullen Root.
Education and Training
He learned draftsmanship in Chicago, Illinois, which was the extent of his formal training.
He started his career as an apprentice at the Locust Valley Theater, where his talent for set designing was discovered.
Connection to Bucks County
While John Root maintained an office in New York, he lived and worked in Bucks County from 1946 until his death in 1990. His set design for the Broadway hit George Washington Slept Here came to life from meetings held with the authors George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart at the Kaufman's Barley Sheaf Farm in Bucks County. Although he was never directly involved with the Bucks County Playhouse, his wife performed in many plays there over the course of twenty-two years. John Root and his wife, actress Margaret Mullen Root, met on Broadway while they were both working on Red Harvest, and they were married in Doylestown. They first lived in Wycombe and moved to Solebury in 1964, where he lived until his death, having made Bucks County his home for forty-four years.
Colleagues and Affiliations
His colleagues include Margaret Mullen Root, George and Beatrice Kaufman, Moss Hart, Sam and Bella Spewack. The Roots were also friends with Ezra Stone, Sara Seegar, Jane and Walter Teller, Justin and Alma Herman.
Selected set designs:
Harvey, Kiss and Tell, George Washington Slept Here, and Red Harvest were among the fifty-three Broadway productions he did sets for.
Major Television Performances
Selected set designs:
The Perry Como Show, The Armstrong Circle Theater
Teaching and Professional Appointments
He formed his own real estate company, John Root, Inc., in Lumberville, Pennsylvania.
He taught brokerage classes at Bucks County Community College.
Photograph of John Root
Photograph of Margaret Mullen Root and John Root
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