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Designer. Born William Ralph Blass in Fort Wayne, Indiana to a part-time dressmaker and a traveling hardware salesman. Blass's father committed suicide when Blass was five. At 15, Blass began selling sketches of evening gowns for $25 each to a New York manufacturer. At 17 he left home to attend fashion school in New York. Blass excelled and at 18 became the first man to win Mademoiselle's Design for Living award. He found work as a sketch artist with the sportswear house of David Crystal. In 1942 Blass enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the 603rd Camouflage Battalion a classified division, its mission was to fool the Germans through the use of recordings, dummy tanks and other false materiel, into believing the Allies were positioned other than where they actually were. Blass left the Army in 1945 and went back to New York, where he went to work for Anne Klein. Klein fired Blass less than a year later, calling him talentless. Next Blass started as an assistant designer at Anna Miller and Company, and later at the fashion house Maurice Rentner. In 1970, Blass established Bill Blass Limited. He was most noted for high-quality, high-priced clothing featuring a look of sporty sophistication and casual glamour. His classic style, which was less severe than that of many contemporaries, attracted a wide audience. He won numerous fashion awards; his designs included sportswear, rainwear, accessories, and evening wear. Beginning in the late 1960s, he also designed menswear. In December 1998, Blass suffered a minor stroke. His company had grown to a $700-million-a-year concern. But after he presented his final collection to in September of 1999, the designer sold Bill Blass Limited for $50 million and retired. In 2000, he was diagnosed with oral cancer, which later spread to his throat.