Carnegie Mellon School of Drama mourns the loss of Paul de Pass (CFA ’72), who passed away May 1, 2021, from complications of esophageal cancer. He was 70. Paul had been sick for over a year and struggled bravely with his illness.

Born in New York City, Paul de Pass attended the High School of Music and Art, the Cooper Union, Sarah Lawrence College, and Carnegie Mellon University. After school, Paul and Michael J. Hotopp co-founded the design company Associated Theatrical Designers and worked together for many years designing productions for Broadway and beyond. Paul began his Broadway career in 1978 with his designs for Your Arm’s Too Short to Box with God. Other Broadway productions have included revivals of Peter Pan, Brigadoon, and Oklahoma! as well as the original productions of The Tap Dance Kid and Oh, Brother! He has also designed for Off-Broadway productions, national tours, regional theatre, film, television programs, industrials, and galas. PepsiCo was one of his major clients. At Carnegie Mellon, he designed the scenery for a memorable production of She Loves Me!

More recently, Paul created exhibitions for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He was a dear friend to the singer Barbara Cook and to a merry band of CMU designers. He never met a dog he didn’t love- training many of them through the years as therapy dogs. He is survived by his brother Richard de Pass and his mother Jane de Pass.

Gifts in memory of Paul may be sent to Guiding Eyes for the Blind (

SHE LOVES ME at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama 1972
Image: SHE LOVES ME at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Kresge Theatre, 1971-72, courtesy of Carnegie Mellon's University Archives.