Austin Cedric Gibbons
March 23, 1890
|Died||July 26, 1960 (aged 70)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles|
|Years active||1919 – 1956|
(m. 1930; div. 1941)
Austin Cedric Gibbons (March 23, 1890 – July 26, 1960) was an Irish-American art director for the film industry. He also made a significant contribution to motion picture theater architecture from the 1930s to 1950s. Gibbons designed the Oscar statuette in 1928, but tasked the sculpting to George Stanley, a Los Angeles artist. He was nominated 39 times for the Academy Award for Best Production Design and won the Oscar 11 times, both of which are records.
Cedric Gibbons was born in Ireland in 1890 to Irish architect Austin P. Gibbons and American Veronica Fitzpatrick Simmons. The family moved to Manhattan after the birth of their third child. Cedric studied at the Art Students League of New York in 1911. He began working in his father's office as a junior draftsman, then in the art department at Edison Studios under Hugo Ballin in New Jersey in 1915. He was drafted and served in the US Navy Reserves during World War I at Pelham Bay in New York.
Gibbons joined Goldwyn Studios,[when?] and began a long career with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924, when the studio was founded.
In 1925, when he was first working in the art department at MGM, he was in competition with Romain De Tirtoff for a more substantial position, while working with Joseph Wright, Merrill Pye and Richard Day on some 20 films. Tirtoff is better known as Erte. When studio executive Irving Thalberg summoned Gibbons to work on Ben Hur (1925), he used knowledge of the up-and-coming art moderne (that was to become known as art deco) to advance in the MGM art department.
Gibbons was one of the original 36 founding members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and designed the Academy Awards statuette in 1928, a trophy for which he himself would be nominated 39 times, winning 11, the last time for Best Art Direction for Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956).
He retired from MGM as art director and the head of the art department on April 26, 1956 due to ill health with over 1,500 films credited to him; however, other designers did major work on these films, some credited, some not, during Gibbons' tenure as head of the art department. Even so, his actual hands-on art direction is considerable and his contributions lasting.
Personal life and death
In 1930, Gibbons married actress Dolores del Río and co-designed their house with Douglas Honnold in Santa Monica, an intricate Art Deco residence influenced by Rudolf Schindler. The couple divorced in 1941. In October 1944, he married actress Hazel Brooks, with whom he remained until his death.
Gibbons' niece Veronica "Rocky" Balfe was Gary Cooper's wife and briefly an actress known as Sandra Shaw.
Gibbons' second cousin Frederick "Royal" Gibbons—a musician, orchestra conductor, and entertainer who worked with him at MGM—was the father of Billy Gibbons of the rock band ZZ Top.
Despite holding a US birth certificate, Gibbons claimed on census forms that he was born in Ireland and that his family emigrated to the US during his early childhood. His press marriage announcement also stated that he was a native of Ireland. The reasons for this misstatement are unknown.
Gibbons died in Los Angeles on July 26, 1960 after a long illness at age 70 and was buried under a modest marker at the Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles. Dorothy Kilgallen, journalist and gossip columnist, a friend of his second wife, reported his age as 65 at the time of his death.
Gibbons' set designs, particularly those in such films as Born to Dance (1936) and Rosalie (1937), heavily inspired motion picture theater architecture in the late 1930s through 1950s.
Among the classic examples are the Loma Theater in San Diego, the Crest theaters in Long Beach, California and Fresno, California, and the Culver Theater in Culver City, California, some of which are still extant. The style sometimes is referred to as Art Deco or as Art Moderne. The style is found in the theaters that were managed by the Skouras brothers, whose designer Carl G. Moeller used the sweeping scroll-like details in his creations.
The iconic Oscar statuettes that Gibbons designed, which were first awarded in 1929, still are being presented to winners at Academy Awards ceremonies each year.
Gibbons was inducted into the Art Directors Guild Hall of Fame in February 2005.
Awards for Art Direction
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929)
- The Merry Widow (1934)
- Pride and Prejudice (1940)
- Blossoms in the Dust (1941)
- Gaslight (1944)
- The Yearling (1946)
- Little Women (1949)
- An American in Paris (1951)
- The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
- Julius Caesar (1953)
- Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)
Nominations for Art Direction
- When Ladies Meet (1933)
- Romeo and Juliet (1936)
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
- Conquest (1937)
- Marie Antoinette (1938)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Bitter Sweet (1940)
- When Ladies Meet (1941)
- Random Harvest (1942)
- Madame Curie (1943)
- Thousands Cheer (1943)
- Kismet (1944)
- National Velvet (1944)
- The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
- Madame Bovary (1949)
- The Red Danube (1949)
- Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
- Too Young to Kiss (1951)
- Quo Vadis (1951)
- The Merry Widow (1952)
- Lili (1953)
- The Story of Three Loves (1953)
- Young Bess (1953)
- Brigadoon (1954)
- Executive Suite (1954)
- I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
- Blackboard Jungle (1955)
- Lust for Life (1956)
- "Cedric Gibbons Architect of Style", LA Modernism catalog, May 2006, pp. 16–17 by Jeffrey Head
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- ^ "Cedric Gibbons, M-G-M Artist, 65". The New York Times. July 27, 1960. Retrieved 2017-12-02.
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- ^ "The Architectural Digest Greenroom at the 2013 Oscars". Architectural Digest. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
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- ^ "Inside Oscar Statuette Designer Cedric Gibbons' Restored Art Deco Home (Exclusive Photos)". The Hollywood Reporter. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
- ^ "Cedric Gibbons Crafts a California Home That Evokes Hollywood Glamour". Architectural Digest. 29 February 2008. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
- ^ "Hazel Brooks". The Los Angeles Times. 1944-10-27. p. 13. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
- ^ "Cedric Gibbons and Hazel Brooks papers". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
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- ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions. Library of Congress, Copyright Office. 1944.
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- ^ https://a860-historicalvitalrecords.nyc.gov/view/705243
- ^ "Cedric Gibbons discovered in 1930 United States Federal Census". Ancestry.com.
- ^ "Adrie Gibbons discovered in 1920 United States Federal Census". Ancestry.com.
- ^ "Clipped from Santa Maria Times". Santa Maria Times. 2 August 1930. p. 1.
- ^ Wilson, Scott (2016-08-17). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9780786479924.
- ^ Bitetti, Marge; Ball, Guy (2006). Early Santa Ana. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-3100-7.
- ^ McNary, Dave (2005-10-26). "Art Directors paint quintet with honors". Variety. Retrieved 2019-07-11.