Cedric Gibbons bigraphy, stories - Art director, set decorator

Cedric Gibbons : biography

March 23, 1893 - July 26, 1960

Austin Cedric Gibbons (March 23, 1893 – July 26, 1960) was an Irish American art director and production designer who was one of the most important and influential in the field in the history of American film. He also made a great impact on motion picture theater architecture through the 1930s to 1950s, the period considered the golden-era of theater architecture. He is credited as the designer of the Oscar statuette in 1928.


Gibbons was born in Dublin, Ireland and studied at the Art Students League of New York and worked for his architect father. While at Edison Studios from 1915, he first designed a set for a film released in 1919, assisting Hugo Ballin. But, after this first foray, the studio closed, and he signed with Samuel Goldwyn in 1918. This evolved to working for Louis B. Mayer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1924 to 1956—a 32-year career.

Gibbons was one of the original 36 founding members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and oversaw the design of the Academy Awards statuette in 1928, a trophy for which he himself would be nominated 39 times, winning 11.

He retired in 1956 with about 1,500 films credited to him: however, his contract with MGM dictated that he receive credit as art director for every MGM film released in the United States, even though other designers may have done the bulk of the work. Even so, his actual hands-on art direction may have been on about 150 films.

Academy Awards

Wins 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 (1957)

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)

Personal life and death

In 1930, Gibbons married actress Dolores del Río and co-designed their house in Santa Monica, an intricate Art Deco residence influenced by Rudolf Schindler. They divorced in 1941; three years later he married actress Hazel Brooks with whom he remained until his death at the age of 67.

Gibbons's grave is in the Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles.

Gibbons' nephew is Billy F. Gibbons, guitarist/vocalist for the rock band ZZ Top.


Gibbons's 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. The style is found very clearly in the theaters that were managed by the Skouras brothers, whose designer Carl G. Moeller used the sweeping scroll-like details in his creations. Among the more classic examples are the Loma Theater in San Diego, The Crest in Long Beach and Fresno, and the Culver Theater in Culver City, all of which are in California and some extant. The style is sometimes referred to as Art Deco and Art Moderne.

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Living octopus

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