Julie Andrews Pays Tribute to Late Ex-Husband Tony Walton: 'His Talent Was Simply Monumental'

"Tony was my dearest and oldest friend. He taught me to see the world with fresh eyes," Andrews, 86, tells PEOPLE about the late set and costume designer, who died Wednesday

Julie Andrews and Tony Walton
Julie Andrews and Tony Walton in 1962. Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Julie Andrews is mourning the death of her ex-husband Tony Walton.

The Oscar winner, 86, exclusively tells PEOPLE, "Tony was my dearest and oldest friend. He taught me to see the world with fresh eyes and his talent was simply monumental. I will miss him more than I can say."

"We are a huge, blended family and as we hold each other close, we take comfort knowing that he lives on, not only in his children and grandchildren, but in the memories of thousands who cherished his warmth and generosity and the glorious gifts he gave us," she adds. "Gifts of theatre and film, ballet and opera, the graphic arts and illustration."

"He was a Titan of the Arts. A doting father and husband… and beloved beyond measure," Andrews concludes.

Walton and Andrews were married from 1959 to 1968, and share one daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hamilton confirmed the news of her father's death, noting he died Wednesday evening in his New York City Upper West Side apartment following complications related to a stroke. He was 87.

Walton's career accolades include Tony, Emmy and Academy Awards. His work in the musicals Pippin (1973) and Guys and Dolls (1992), plus the play House of Blue Leaves (1986), earned him Tony Awards.

Wedding Of Julie Andrews And Tony Walton 1959
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty

He also won an Oscar for the 1979 musical drama All That Jazz, and an Emmy for his work in 1985's Death of a Salesman television film adaptation.

Additionally, Walton's work in The Wiz (1978), Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Mary Poppins (1964) earned nominations from the Academy Awards.

In a 2008 interview with Playbill, Walton opened up about mastering the craft of set and costume design.

RELATED VIDEO: Costume Designer and Julie Andrews' Ex-Husband Tony Walton Reunites with Mary Poppins Costume

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"I try to read the script or listen to the score as if it were a radio show and not allow myself to have a rush of imagery," he said. "Then, after meeting with the director — and if I'm lucky the writer — and whatever input they may want to give, I try to imagine what I see as if it were slowly being revealed by a pool of light."

Walton said he attempted "to get the palette — and the feel of it — whether it's crispy or soft, whatever the flavor may be, before I get into any of the essential nuts and bolts. Generally, of course, it's about how best to tell the tale."

Walton is survived by his wife Gen LeRoy, daughter and stepdaughter, as well as five grandchildren, according to THR.

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