LOS ANGELES — William J. “Bill” Newmon, II, the son of the late John and Cora Newmon, was nominated to receive the annual Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers in Hollywood, Calif., next month.
Newmon, a member for more than 30 years in the Motion Picture and Television Industry International Union, was the first African-American set designer in the industry. He served on the union’s executive board for most of his career and as vice president three of the last four-year terms of his career. He is now retired.
A St. Petersburg native, he attended Davis Elementary, 16th Street Junior High and Gibbs High School, graduating in 1957. He went on to attend Los Angeles City College and UCLA.
Newmon got his start at NBC in Los Angeles. First working as a stock scenery draftsman, he climbed his way up the ladder to assistant art director. After leaving NBC he worked at Walt Disney Studios. Newmon’s resume boasts of such motion pictures, television and stage credits as “Poltergeist,” “Big Top Pee Wee,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Amen,” “Seventh Heaven,” “MacGyver” and many more.
This will not be the first time that Newmon has been honored. He received an award for outstanding technical achievement as an assistant art director by the Los Angeles Black Media Coalition in 1988, and again by the National Black Media Coalition in 1996. He was also featured in the April 1991 edition of “Ebony” magazine highlighting news events and achievements in the African-American community.
Married for more than 60 years to his lovely wife Velma, Newmon moved to the Seattle area before retiring from the movie and television industry. In retirement he keeps himself busy with community activities, once serving as vice chair of the Whatcom County Washington Democratic Party central committee. He is a member of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s advisory committee and a member of the Bellingham, Wash., Racial Justice Coalition, which works to bring awareness to racial injustice everywhere it exists.
Newmon will be teaming up with long-time friends David and Archie Boston as co-producer of a PBS special entitled “Black Pioneers of the Sunshine City” that will air locally on WUSF Television during Black History Month.