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Duquette was born in Los Angeles, California. He grew up between Los Angeles, where he wintered with his family, and Three Rivers, Michigan, where they lived the rest of the year. As a student, Duquette was awarded scholarships at both the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Yale School of the Theatre. After graduating from Chouinard, he began working in advertising, creating special environments for the latest seasonal fashions. He also began to free-lance for designers such as William Haines, James Pendleton, and Adrian. In the early 1940s, Duquette’s parents and siblings moved permanently to Los Angeles, where Duquette had been living since 1935. During this time Duquette was discovered by designer and socialite Elsie de Wolfe. Through the patronage of de Wolfe and her husband Sir Charles Mendl, Duquette established himself as one of the leading designers in Los Angeles. He worked increasingly for films, including many Metro Goldwyn Mayer productions under the auspices of producer Arthur Freed and director Vincente Minnelli.