Scenic designer Victor Paganuzzi, creator of iconic "Sunday Morning" set, dies at 90

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Scenic designer Victor Paganuzzi, who created the iconic set for the long-running morning show "Sunday Morning," and countless other CBS programs, died Thursday. He was 90.

Scenic designer Victor Paganuzzi. / Credit: CBS News
Scenic designer Victor Paganuzzi. / Credit: CBS News

Paganuzzi, who studied history and political science at Iona College, began his career with CBS in 1962, by helping design sets for "The Jackie Gleason Show." He would go on to other entertainment properties, including the daytime drama "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," for which he earned two Emmy nominations. (He received two additional Emmy nods for "The Joan Rivers Show" and "CBS Daytime 90.")

He transitioned to CBS News in 1974, where he spent a quarter-century creating the look of the network's election coverage and special broadcasts, as well as its news programs, from "CBS Evening News," to "Face to Face with Connie Chung" and "The Early Show."

His most familiar contribution was to the design of "CBS Sunday Morning," which debuted in 1979. Paganuzzi created the distinctive set, whose look has been carried forth to this day.

In 2011, upon his retirement, Paganuzzi explained that the "Sunday Morning" set was originally created for a sports broadcast that never made it to the air. Translating sports to his design, he'd hit upon baseball, and created positions for the anchor and correspondents that mimicked a baseball diamond.

Victor Paganuzzi's original design.  / Credit: CBS News
Victor Paganuzzi's original design. / Credit: CBS News

After the sports show struck out, "Sunday Morning" founding producer Shad Northshield had the original design modified, with sports imagery out and plexiglass panels containing the sun and text in.

 / Credit: CBS News
/ Credit: CBS News

"It wasn't scenery that you were looking at," Paganuzzi said. "It was just there, almost floating across a horizon. It sort of echoed the feeling of what the show was all about. The set did not upstage the show."

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Upon his retirement, a plaque was installed at the CBS Broadcast Center, honoring Paganuzzi for "demonstrating the epitome of class to his peers" for 49 years, calling him "a true gentleman designing scenery with passion, quality and imagination."

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