William Sutherland Beckett
William Sutherland Beckett was born June 14, 1921 in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended Yale University, graduating in 1943. Beckett moved to California after graduating and worked for Douglas Aircraft for a short time during World War II. He went to work for the firm Spaulding and Rex from 1944 to 1949, eventually achieving the title Chief Designer. Spaulding was the architect of Case Study House #2, for Arts + Architecture magazine in 1945-1947.
Mr. Beckett married fellow Kansas Citian and socialite, Julianne Kemper in 1948. She was the daughter of James Madison Kemper, Sr. and part of a prominent banking family and patrons of the arts in Kansas City.
In late 1949, Beckett went out on his own, and by 1950, he had completed his own offices, located at 9026 Melrose Avenue. The Julius Shulman photographs of this building were widely published in the architectural press. The building garnered him an AIA National Honor First Award, in 1952, one of only three given nationwide that year. This prestigious award set his reputation as an architect for stars like Charlton Heston, setting him off on a career designing many celebrity homes and businesses in Beverly Hills and throughout LA.
Eventually, William Sutherland Beckett succumbed to chronic alcoholism and died at the early age of 56 on September 21, 1977.