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How the Columbia Pictures logo has been Betty Crocker all along

Betty Venables ended up at UCLA

Matthew: I've noticed that the Columbia Pictures logo — “Columbia,” the woman in the long robe that they show at the beginning of their movies — seems to have changed. Who was the model for the new logo? Did they use a real person when they designed it? — Andrea, Hillcrest

Don’t you think the new Columbia lady looks like Betty Crocker wrapped in a bed sheet? Does to me, anyway. Sort of wholesome, like she’s about to whip a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chips out from under that robe. Her ladyship has passed through several incarnations, depending on the mood of the times. In 1926 she was a tiara’d babe in a slinky dress with plunging neckline holding up a lightbulb-shaped thing; in the ’30s she looked like a Busby Berkeley ingenue; in the World War II era her flag shawl got pretty huge and she was less slinky, more all-American. Her plunging neckline was traded for a modestly front-slit skirt. In the protest era of the ’60s, they took away her flag. Maybe burned it. Then Columbia herself disappeared in the ’70s, replaced by a sunburst or a car crash or something explosive. But she’s back, her new ’90s face a committee-designed, computer-manipulated pastiche of the features of several women, whose names no one is willing to reveal. But I know it’s Betty. Trust me on this one.

March 30 update

Interesting communique from Jim Menders of Pacific Beach re: the torch-bearing Columbia Pictures logo lady, a question we screened here a few weeks ago. The current version has a virtual face — a computer-manipulated jigsaw of chin, cheekbones, etc., of several nameless models — but the original black-and-white version in the ’30s, says Jim, was fashioned after “wholesome” ingenue starlet Evelyn Venable (Death Takes a Holiday, Alice Adams, The Frontiersman). Venable ditched Hollywood and eventually became a lecturer in classics at UCLA. So in the ’30s, at least, there was a brain behind the face that launched a thousand clips.

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Matthew: I've noticed that the Columbia Pictures logo — “Columbia,” the woman in the long robe that they show at the beginning of their movies — seems to have changed. Who was the model for the new logo? Did they use a real person when they designed it? — Andrea, Hillcrest

Don’t you think the new Columbia lady looks like Betty Crocker wrapped in a bed sheet? Does to me, anyway. Sort of wholesome, like she’s about to whip a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chips out from under that robe. Her ladyship has passed through several incarnations, depending on the mood of the times. In 1926 she was a tiara’d babe in a slinky dress with plunging neckline holding up a lightbulb-shaped thing; in the ’30s she looked like a Busby Berkeley ingenue; in the World War II era her flag shawl got pretty huge and she was less slinky, more all-American. Her plunging neckline was traded for a modestly front-slit skirt. In the protest era of the ’60s, they took away her flag. Maybe burned it. Then Columbia herself disappeared in the ’70s, replaced by a sunburst or a car crash or something explosive. But she’s back, her new ’90s face a committee-designed, computer-manipulated pastiche of the features of several women, whose names no one is willing to reveal. But I know it’s Betty. Trust me on this one.

March 30 update

Interesting communique from Jim Menders of Pacific Beach re: the torch-bearing Columbia Pictures logo lady, a question we screened here a few weeks ago. The current version has a virtual face — a computer-manipulated jigsaw of chin, cheekbones, etc., of several nameless models — but the original black-and-white version in the ’30s, says Jim, was fashioned after “wholesome” ingenue starlet Evelyn Venable (Death Takes a Holiday, Alice Adams, The Frontiersman). Venable ditched Hollywood and eventually became a lecturer in classics at UCLA. So in the ’30s, at least, there was a brain behind the face that launched a thousand clips.

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