On Thursday, June 18th, the GermanAmerican Heritage Foundation rolled out the red carpet for the official opening of its latest exhibit “100 Years of Hollywood: The Laemmle Effect”. Named after Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA founder Carl Laemmle, this stunning exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the opening of Universal Studios and explores the multitude of contributions made by Germanspeaking immigrants to the American motion picture industry over the past century.
Divided into four sections, the exhibition begins with Hollywood’s German pioneers, such as Carl Laemmle; Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures; and director Fritz Lang. As described in the exhibit, the pioneers laid the foundation of the modern American film industry by relocating to the Los Angeles area and by developing new film techniques that are still used today.
Moving into the 1930s, part two of the exhibit focuses on the Golden Age of Hollywood. Bigname actors and exiles, such as Marlene Dietrich, Billy Wilder, Hedy Lamar, and Paul Kohner used their talents on and offcamera to denounce the Nazis. Either through film or by sponsorship programs, such as the European Film Fund, actors and agents alike were able to help sponsor hundreds of German Jews who were in need of a visa to immigrate to the United States. Carl Laemmle notably sponsored over 600 people. Petitions for immigration from various actors, and original documents from this period are on display.
Part three of the exhibit turns to the postWar period to describe the German side of Hollywood. A number of costumes accompany this segment, including a dress worn by Doris Day and a top hat and shoes worn by Fred Astaire. This section includes a portrait wall featuring stars of that era and their noteworthy achievements.
The final segment of the exhibit highlights today’s Hollywood stars with Germanspeaking heritage, including famous stars such as Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among other Hollywood memorabilia, GermanAmerican actor Eric Braeden’s Emmy is on display. A special wall highlights the Oscars won by Germanspeaking Americans, and visitors can view a compilation of Hollywood stars speaking German.
Supplementing the four major sections is a corner honoring composers of German speaking descent. From early composers, such as Franz Waxman, to modern legends such as Hans Zimmer, the composer section includes artifacts that belonged to Franz Waxman while an eclectic medley of film scores is playing.
The GAHF would like to thank the following sponsors and supporters for making “100 Years of Hollywood” possible. Sponsors and supporters include: the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany, the German Information Center USA, HapagLloyd Cruises, the National Building Museum, NBC Universal, the DAR Museum, the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Rosemary Hilb Laemmle, Pancho Kohner, and John Waxman.
This traveling exhibit will be on display at our Member Club the German-American Heritage Center in Davenport, Iowa.
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