Though you’ve never seen his name on a Broadway marquee, Jim Miller has been part of plenty of Broadway productions. From “The Lion King” to “Spamalot” to “Gypsy,” Mr. Miller was the illustrator, art director, and graphic designer behind some of theater’s most memorable shows.
James Turner Miller died of congenital heart disease on Dec. 15 at home in Vero Beach, Fla., where he had moved after spending his earlier retirement years in Springs. He was 83 and had been ill for three years.
Mr. Miller was raised in Henderson, Nev., but like many artists, he always had his eye on the Big Apple. As an art student at California’s prestigious Art Center, his thesis project was a graphic series on the New York City “apple” symbol. After creating TV commercials for Kenyon and Elkhart, he then worked at the Ogilvy and Mather agency and even ran his own agency for a time. He was later recruited by Serino Coyne, an advertising agency specializing in live entertainment that is responsible for nearly all the promotions for Broadway. Here his innate talent for artistic expression found a home, and he shined as one of the agency’s top art directors, illustrators, and designers, his family said.
In New York, his daily walk to work from his theater-district apartment would take him past 20-foot-tall versions of what he might have originally scribbled on a cocktail napkin. Mr. Miller created designs for “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Crazy for You,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Lost in Yonkers.”
After 22 years at Serino Coyne, he retired in 2010 to Springs, where he was able to paint without the pressures of the agency business, focusing on beach and Bonacker culture. His works in oil on canvas included paintings of Ditch Plain and Three Mile Harbor, among other favorite places. He lived in Springs until 2018.
He was quoted as saying, “I once asked someone the difference between a painter and an illustrator. The answer I got was, ‘You don’t ask a painter to make changes.’ ”
Mr. Miller’s large canvases had a bold, colorful aesthetic — much like his theater work — that captured his love of surf culture and life by the water. His work was shown at a one-man show at the former JL restaurant in East Hampton and is in private collections throughout the Hamptons and beyond.
Mr. Miller was born in Madera, Calif., on Oct. 22, 1939, to Jack Miller and the former Annabel Turner. He attended Basic High School in Henderson, Nev.
From September 1959 to September 1961, he served in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Oriskany aircraft carrier, where he was the art director for the ship’s album.
In 1964 he married Diane Rosenthal, with whom he had two children. The marriage ended in divorce. He married Eileen Markson Miller Paduano in 1981; they had one child before divorcing. His third wife, Kwong su Byon, died in 2005. Mr. Miller’s fourth wife, Noriko Ishikawa, whom he married in April 2016, survives.
Mr. Miller’s three children, Jolie Miller of East Hampton, Jamie Miller of Ridgewood, N.J., and Jack Miller of Miami, survive. He also leaves three grandchildren, William Miller of Newport, N.H., and Annabelle Krugman and Gillian Krugman of Ridgewood, N.J., and two siblings, Maryann Miller of Henderson, Nev., and John Miller of Australia.
Mr. Miller was cremated. A memorial service will be held in the future.
As he was a fan of the artist Eric Fischl, who is a co-founder of The Church arts center in Sag Harbor, Mr. Miller’s family has suggested memorial donations to that organization at 48 Madison Street in Sag Harbor 11963.