The Type that Sold Hollywood

Inter-Disciplinary Press
Publication Type:
Hollywood and The World, 2014, First, pp. 67 - 85
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Whilst the history of Hollywood obviously exists within its extensive cinematic back catalogue, an alternative visual record of its development also exists set within the city streets of Hollywood and Los Angeles. This is where layer upon layer of a typographic vernacular still exists. Within this living museum of the streets, there still remain examples of the twentieth century type that created and sold an image of the golden era of Hollywood. These are as much a record of Hollywood, as much as the movies it produced. As an exercise in ‘Typographic Archaeology’, this chapter explores the historical development of the commercial letterforms and signage of the Los Angeles and Hollywood urban roadside, utilising examples designed to adorn the theatres, cinemas and diners of Hollywood’s leisure industries. Embedded within its everyday environment, but often ignored, these visual remnants enable us to explore not only the graphic history of the development of Hollywood, but also its essential particularity, yet also widespread impact. Such typographic remnants are a vital, but fast disappearing record of the creation of the visual image of a long gone Hollywood. Set loud and proud upon buildings against the backdrop of the Californian sky, such examples must be recognised as an important a record of Hollywood’s development and its particular social and cultural environment. Most importantly, they also need to be recognised for the impact they had on the formation of America’s twentieth century design history.
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