Wayne Fitzgerald, title designer, dies

Wayne Fitzgerald’s title card (along with others, including Bruce Lee) for The Wrecking Crew, the final Matt Helm movie with Dean Martin.

Wayne Fitzgerald, a prolific designer of movie and television titles, has died at 89, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fitzgerald went to work at Pacific Title in 1951, according to his bio at the Art of the Title website.

Pacific Title did title work for Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and 20th Century Fox. But no one at Pacific received on-screen credit. As a result, Fitzgerald’s name doesn’t appear on such films as The Music Man and My Fair Lady, according to the website.

Fitzgerald went independent in 1967. His work appeared in such films as The Green Berets; The Wrecking Crew, the final Matt Helm film with Dean Martin; Chinatown; and McQ.

Other of his film credits included The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, Apocalypse Now and Heaven Can Wait, according to his THR obituary.

The designer also got a lot of television work. He was hired often by Universal’s “television factory.” As a result, the Universal shows he worked on had titles with a bit of visual flair.

Start of the main title of The NBC Mystery Movie

For example, he designed the main title to The NBC Mystery Movie (later The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie), where a man with a flashlight walks with stills of the different components (Columbo, McCloud, McMillan & Wife and others) being shown while accompanied by a Henry Mancini theme.

As the title ended, announcer Hank Simms (also the go-to announcer for shows made by QM Productions) would then tell viewers which Mystery Movie segment was being shown tonight.

That title is rarely seen today. The Mystery Movie’s different entries are syndicated separately as TV movies. As a result, they usually don’t include Fitzgerald’s main title.

The designer’s other Universal credits included  It Takes a Thief, The Bold Ones, Switch and Night Gallery.

In all, Fitzgerald’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 400 credits, extending into the early 21st century.

One Response

  1. I agree, classic TV titles (such as mentioned in this article) are little pieces of visual artwork! Signature pieces really. They helped give a dramatic/action series an identity and a personality. Hard to explain in writing. But especially the NBC Mystery Movie series with Mancini’s music, conveyed drama and suspense. That theme is still on my TV theme song mix-tape. Wish we knew more about whoever created the Mannix, Dallas title styling. Again very distinctive. Cut beautiful with the beat of the music.

    Thank you for posting this article!

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