1930’s cinema artwork

posted by Michael Zoldessy on November 20, 2006 at 4:40 am


I am the Executive Director of The Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma. I have just joined your site. I will provide more photos and information when time is available.

What I want to tell you about is a wonderful discovery we have made. A collection of some 30 handpainted one of a kind lobby art pieces from the 1930’s. These are large pieces featuring Shirley Temple, Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyk, Harold Loydd, John Barrymore, Will Rogers, and many many more. We are in the process of framing them.

We will have an art show at a gallery in early 2007 followed by them being hung in the Poncan. We believe we have the largest collection of this type of artwork in the world. As you probably know it is very scarce. We are hopeful that hanging it in the upper and lower lobbies of the theater will create a tourism draw for our theater even when the screen and stage are dark.

I would be interested to get more information on this type of artwork and if other historic theaters have discovered any. I love your site and will be back soon.

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Comments (3)

Patsy on November 24, 2006 at 5:01 am

Congratulations and welcome to Cinema Treasures!

irishcine on November 24, 2006 at 9:53 pm

Great find

You may well know that the studios circulated designs for these promotional displays, and local artists often followed those designs fairly closely. Of course, others created their own displays entirely from their own imagination. There is an interesting book “The Lost Artwork of Hollywood” by F Basten, which you may find interesting which covers this subject.

GaryParks on November 27, 2006 at 6:02 pm

I remember that, sometime in the 1980s, a similar find was made of original posters painted by the in-house artist at the Eastman Theatre in Rochester, New York. This theatre has long been a performing arts center, and was considered to be a cut above other theatres even when built. It was designed by McKim, Mead, and White—top perveyors of the “serious” Beaux-Arts style. Anyway, it was decided by the management at that time that the posters which were shipped with the movies were too garish and commonplace for so classy a theatre, and so the staff artist made “new” handpainted posters for each movie that played. They were very striking in their design. Anyway, I don’t remember if they were discovered in the theatre or somewhere offsite, but many decades later, they got their just due. I think (not positive) Smithsonian magazine ran an article about the posters and their artist, and that’s where I learned about it.

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