It would be hard, even for those of us who lived through it, to recall when in the early and mid-’50s and even ’60s TV networks did elegance. I mean when the on-air promotions and series title cards were simple, smart and subtle, as opposed to today’s computer-generated noise. At CBS, design director William Golden was a master of elegance and dash. In addition to applying the CBS Eye as the most trusted logo in television, he oversaw an art department that gave the brand its authority. He hired the best and brightest, especially for on-air work.
“In 1945, before Jackie Robinson played Major League baseball, or Marian Anderson sang at the Metropolitan Opera,” wrote Julie Lasky for AIGA, “Georg Olden, the grandson of a slave, took a job with CBS. There, as head of the network’s division of on-air promotions at the dawn of television, Olden pioneered the field of broadcast graphics. Working under CBS’ art director, William Golden, he supervised the identities of programs such as I Love Lucy, Lassie and Gunsmoke; helped produce the vote-tallying scoreboard for the first televised presidential election returns (the 1952 race between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai E. Stevenson)”; and more.
Nicky Lindeman, an art director at Spotco in New York, was recently given a gift (and what a gift) of glass slides used on camera as promos for CBS series and specials from the golden age of the network. Presented here are a handful of what may include work by Georg Olden that makes one long for that era of typographic restraint. And just look at how smartly the logo is used when bells and whistles were squelched. Sometimes it seems like we’ve technologized graphic design into the muck of complexity.
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