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SYFY WIRE David Cronenberg

Denise Cronenberg, prolific costume designer of The Fly and The Incredible Hulk, dies at 81

By Jacob Oller
Denise Cronenberg Getty

Few films had such lasting images of people than The Fly, eXistenZ, M. Butterfly, or Dead Ringers. Helping create those looks was costume designer Denise Cronenberg, who died on May 22 at age 81.

The Toronto Star reported the news of her death, which was due to "multiple age-related issues," according to her son Eric Woodley. Cronenberg was a constant aesthetic force on the films of her brother, David. Her first collaboration with him as costume designer (after more minor roles in the wardrobe department on Videodrome and The Dead Zone), The Fly saw her dress Jeff Goldblum in his various states of deterioration as the Oscar-winning make-up creation that was the Brundlefly.

The Fly Jeff Goldblum

Her Saturn Award-winning work with Jeremy Irons and company on Dead Ringers solidified her role in the brother-sister Cronenberg team for the rest of their career.

Dead Ringers Jeremy Irons

The pair collaborated on each film Cronenberg helmed, up to his most recent feature, Maps to the Stars. Denise also designed costumes for a variety of other Hollywood projects apart from her brother's work, including recognizable genre films like Dracula 2000, The Incredible Hulk, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

"It can backfire if you're not getting along well, or if you have to decide you need to fire your brother, that would be difficult," David Cronenberg said of his long work relationship with his sister. "Fortunately, I never came to that place with Denise."

"She instantly made my uncle's films look better and she was always quite perfect in what she chose, had a good sense of character and I'm sure the actors loved her," said Woodley. "She helped them do what they do."

The former fashion designer and dancer is survived by her three children and five grandchildren.