At the 85th Academy Awards, the film world’s most prestigious producers, directors, and stars will escape the intensity of the presentations to a backstage green room reminiscent of Hollywood’s glamorous days of old.
Created by popular LA designer Madeline Stuart, the celebrity refuge was inspired by and honors her hero, legendary cinematic art director Cedric Gibbons. In addition to his eleven Oscar statue wins (ironically, he designed the statue himself), Mr. Gibbons was nominated another incredible 28 times for his work on such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, and Annie Get Your Gun.
“He really created, almost singlehandedly, the look of the Hollywood films of the 1930s and 40s,” Ms. Stewart recently told The Washington Post.
Mr. Gibbons, who passed away in 1960 at the age of 67, was one of the original founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1930, he married one of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, Delores del Rio, considered at the time to be the female version of Rudolph Valentino. He retired in 1958, leaving a legacy that has inspired countless cinematic art directors.
Not unlike the whirlwind that brought Dorothy’s farmhouse crashing into Oz, the pre-constructed green room will arrive backstage at the Dolby Theater this year just a few days before Oscar night and will be removed shortly thereafter.
Even though it will be short-lived, Ms. Stewart is honored to be able to pay homage to such a legendary Hollywood art director. “His body of work is so impressive, and as a designer who prides herself on being able to work in so many different architectural styles, he’s my idol because he, in order to create the sets and the environments and the world’s of these different films, had to be conversant in all these different (aesthetic) languages.”
Viewers of the Academy Awards likely won’t ever get a glimpse of the actual backstage room, but for fans of The Wizard of Oz, it’s nice to think that about how the icons behind this remarkable film continue to affect and shape the motion picture industry.