Columbia Pictures - The Columbia Logo

The Columbia Logo

Columbia's logo, a woman carrying a torch and draped in the American flag (representing Columbia, a personification of the United States), has gone through five major revisions.

Originally in 1924, Columbia Pictures used a logo featuring a female Roman soldier holding a shield in her left hand and a stick of wheat in her right hand.

The first such logo debuted in 1928. This version had no clouds, and had rays emanating from the torch in a flickering style of animation. The lady wore a headdress, and above her were the words "A Columbia Production" ("A Columbia Picture" or "Columbia Pictures Corporation") written in an arch. The illustration was based upon the real actress, Evelyn Venable.

In 1936, the logo was changed: the lady now stood on a pedestal, wore no headdress, and the single word "Columbia" appeared in chiseled letters behind her. The animation was improved so that the torch now radiated light instead of the more artificial-looking rays of light projecting from the torch. There were several variations to the logo over the years—significantly, a color version was done in 1943 for The Desperadoes, and the flag became just a drape with no markings – but it remained substantially the same for 40 years. 1976's Taxi Driver was one of the last films to use the mascot in her classic appearance.

From 1976–1993, Columbia experimented with two new logos. The first one was used from 1976–1981, and the second one was used from 1981–1993. Visual effects pioneer Robert Abel was hired by the studio for the first logo's animation. In the 1976 logo, it began with the familiar lady with a torch. Then, the camera zoomed in on the torch, and the torch-light rays then formed an abstract blue semicircle depicting the top half of the rays of light, with the name of the studio appearing under it. This logo was first used on The Who's Tommy and then used on a regular basis starting with Murder by Death. The television counterpart used only the latter part of the logo, and the semicircle was orange. (It sometimes looks red, due to variations in the laboratory development process, but according to Columbia Pictures Entertainment's official logo color coding for their various divisions, it was meant to be orange). The second logo, introduced in 1981, featured the words "Columbia Pictures" straddling the mascot, who was in this case less detailed in appearance. The shape of the lady's body was described as resembling a Coca-Cola bottle.

The current logo was created in 1992, when the logo was repainted digitally by New Orleans artist, Michael Deas, who was commissioned to return the lady to her "classic" look. Deas used Jenny Joseph, a homemaker and mother of two children, as a model, but used a composite for the face. It has resulted in a resemblance to Dorothy Kilgallen. The animation, created by Synthespian Studios in 1993 by Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak, starts with a bright light, which zooms out to reveal the torch and then the lady. The duo used 2D elements from the painting and converted it to 3D.

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