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#RIP: Film Poster Designer, William Gold

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Photo by Dennis Novak via YouTube

William Gold was a great graphic designer known for his thousands of film poster designs, many of them favorites of yours, that I am certain. His first film poster was for Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and his most recent poster was for J. Edgar (2011).

Gold had a 70 year career working with the greatest filmmakers, including Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Elia Kazan, and Stephen Spielberg. Among his film posters: Giant (1956), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Exorcist (1973), All the President’s Men (1976), Funny Girl (1968), Deliverance (1972), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and hundreds more.

Long before poster artists turned to photography and computer-generated images in the 1990s, artists like Gold produced ad campaigns using freehand drawings based on scripts and fist rough cuts that hinted at the plots and moods and mysteries of the movie without giving away too much. Sometimes, Gold’s posters were more loved than the films themselves.

Born in NYC in 1921, Gold studied at the Pratt Institute and started his career as an art director at Warner Bros. His second assignment was for the now iconic poster for Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In the 1950s, he worked for the studios creating posters and ad campaigns for Strangers On A Train (1951), East Of Eden (1955) Rebel Without A Cause (1955), before opening Bill Gold Advertising in 1960. Gold was able to change with with the times, adapting to photographic and digital artworks as illustrated posters became old fashioned.

His most prolific period was the 1970s. His major clients were Warner Bros. studios and Clint Eastwood‘s Malpaso Productions. Gold did the poster campaigns for over 30 of Eastwood’s films. Presenting Gold with The Hollywood Reporter Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, Eastwood said:

”I don’t know what it is that first causes a person to become interested in a film, whether it’s the cast, or whether it’s the title, or whether it’s that first image. I believe it is a combination of all of these. That’s the creative part of poster work, that image and what it does and how it affects an audience.”

Gold was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pratt Institute in 2013. He was a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Society of Illustrators and The Art Directors Guild.

Original editions of his works are rare and coveted by film fans. They go at auction in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Gold was taken by Alzheimer’s on Sunday, at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut;  gone at 97-years-old.

 


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