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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 462 (436)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 462
Page 462

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 462

THE DIM-OUT of the war years brought many problems to the sign makers, besides those headaches attributable to the scarcity of usual fabricating materials. Making displays of non-critical materials did not present an insurmountable problem, but how to maintain the gleam and glisten without electricity and light almost was

-until the technique was perfected of using inchrsquare mirrors to reflect any light that might be available.

A majority of Broadway marquees are unique in that they have an additional feature incorporated into them. When the Artkraft Strauss builds a marquee for a Broadway house, it makes provision for the possible use of a single panel, in lieu of the usual attraction frames in silhouette or glass letters. Most of the houses are taking advantage of this innovation.

A picture usually has a certain definite motif and style of lettering which has been designed specifically for it. For example, the title may be written in long hand or script. This style can then be carried over on to the marquee by means of the panel. Flashing letters, neon letters, pictorial matter, animation, can be used on the marquees of the movie houses, that do not have other display media, 01' can be used in addition to their other display. Because the panels are designed and wired in accordance with the provisions allowed, a complete change of marquee panels or marquee signs can be consummated in a few hours.


During the construction of the thhis Above Allii sign, the dim-out regulations went into effect. Over night, this spectacular, composed of 15-foot letters, was re-converted into a none-glare, indirect lit sign. Immediately afterwards, restrictions were placed upon the use of metal and other vital materials. This indeed seemed like a catastrophe not only to theatres and Broadway advertisers, but to the Broadway populace as well. To Jake Starr, it was merely a challenge. Advertising and display need not stop because they could not blaze. There must be a way to feature these displays, bring them to the publicls attention and yet not light up our coastline heavens as a guide to enemy submarines.

lt's Done with Mirrors!

The engineering department of Artkraft Strauss then had the problem of finding non-priority materials of which


to manufacture signs, and then to manufacture them so as not to violate reguulations.

Which brings us to the most unusual of all Jake Starfs ingenious, original ideas. Unable to use direct light or lamps, unable to use metal (or even to get it!), and unable to obtain new wiring and all other materials pre-empted by war needs or forbidden by wartime precaution, a light flashed in his fertile brain-Mirrors.

thhe Pride of the Yankees, sign was the first of a unique type of spectaculare unique because it contained not one inch of wire, not one metal screw, not so much as one pound of steel, and not one bulb. Blue and gold mirrors mounted on a canvass backing, cut to conform to the share of huge letters, 10, 12 or 20 feet high, with a stroke, sometimes of two feet in width, will catch and reflect whatever light there is in the atmosphere-much as a diamond-cut stone does even in a limited light. Thus Broadway, in wartime dress, was effectively, magically advertised-and, as always in magic, it was all done with mirrors.

Each mirror is an inch squareein various hues of gold, blue, green, red, yellow, any and all colors designedeeach square costing about one cent. Its effectiveness and cost can best be illustrated by imagining a bulletin measuring 40x75 feet, completely covered with these mirror squares, which would be equivalent to covering the face of a building with pennies.

Hand-Painted Displays

The idea of the use of mirror signs caught on like wildfire, and so despite wartime restrictions and regulations, Broadway was not cheated of its glamor.

During the dim-out, when circulation on Broadway moved up to an earlier hour, painted signs grew in importance and, literally, in stature, with greater emphasis on better art Work, and with lighting merely as a supplemental aid. Non-electric displays therefore consisted of huge oil-painted signs or bulletins, or wood letters, covered with mirrors. It is fascinating to think of an artist oil-painting an enormous sign, let us say, like painting a 40-foot face of Gregory Peck. The artist at his easel, with his thin, pointed brush, is a far cry to the artist on a scaffold, swishing a two-or-threeinch brush on his oil painting. Yet both are artists, and both are oil paintings.

The ffMexican Hayrideli Varga girl was, perhaps, the most alluring exponent of this type of mammoth oil-painting art. She was a gorgeous thing, as most readers no doubt remember, and she won tremendous publicity for Mike Todd, for thexican Hayride," and for herself.

Animated Displays

Ingeniously contrived animated displays, moving parts, dancing figures, were not lost to Broadway with the advent of the War Production Board regulations. Motors and bearings which were in stock (probably the only parts of displays which were salvageable) were used to animate figures. thee Here Pvt. Hargrove" had a small 10-foot Private Hargrove who trembled under the admonishing 50-foot sergeant, who wagged a finger and moved his jaWS.

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 462