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The Boston Globe

Obituaries

Anthony Browne, rock manager and interior designer for stars

WASHINGTON — Anthony P. Browne, a onetime rock-and-roll manager turned interior designer whose star clientele included Oprah Winfrey, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Washington socialites Pamela Harriman and Evangeline Bruce, died Oct. 13 at the Capital Caring hospice in the District of Columbia. He was 70.

He had a tumor near the optic nerve, said a friend, David Helfrich.

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Helfrich said Winfrey visited Mr. Browne on the day he died. Mr. Browne’s career received a huge publicity boost after the talk-show host praised his work in a national magazine.

‘‘Anthony is a master at putting colors together,’’ she told Architectural Digest in 2003. ‘‘When he’s finished, the whole room rises up to meet you.’’

For years, she had saved a magazine photo of a room Mr. Browne had decorated in Baltimore before requesting his services in spiffing up her Indiana ‘‘farmhouse’’: a six-bedroom, Loire-style estate. He also helped furnish her home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Before he found his calling in design, Mr. Browne was the personal assistant to Robert Stigwood, manager of such British rock groups as Cream, and business partner of former Beatles manager Brian Epstein. For a period, Mr. Browne was world tour manager of the Bee Gees.

By the early 1970s, he left the rock industry and took over the family business, Starcraft Cleaners, a London firm specializing in fabric cleaning and restoration. The firm’s patrons included Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Mr. Browne’s work with Starcraft nurtured his growing interest in design. On frequent visits to the United States, he enjoyed chatting up wealthy clients and suggesting furnishings for their homes.

His classic English country style caught the attention of English and American dignitaries alike, including the British ambassador Nicholas Henderson. The hallmarks of his style included grand, yet comfortable, interiors and bold ceiling treatments.

‘‘You’ll never find a white ceiling in anything I’ve ever done,’’ he once told The New York Times.

Mr. Browne was especially keen on ‘‘timeless’’ fabrics, particularly floral chintzes.

‘‘The best design look,’’ he explained to The Washington Post in 1991, ‘‘is something that does not look new when you finish.’’

After gaining clout with the city’s elite, Mr. Browne decided to settle in the Washington area in the early 1980s and open a Georgetown design boutique, Anthony P. Browne Inc. He frequently visited New York for commissions and lived there for a few years after his Washington shop closed in 1993.

Anthony Phillip Browne was raised in London by guardians. He told Architectural Digest that he was 3 when his father died during World War II and that his mother ran off with a man who did not want children.

His marriage, to Susie Driver, ended in divorce. He leaves a brother and a sister.

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