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R.I.P.: Bill Gold, 1921-2018

I was saddened by the news of Bill Gold's passing.

In a career spanning six decades, Bill Gold worked on some of the most famous movie posters of all time. Some of them he painted himself (CASABLANCA), others he conceived (THE STING, CAMELOT), and some of them he photographed (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY -- perhaps the most famous photographed poster of the James Bond series, with Roger Moore placed squarely between a woman's legs, that caused some controversy when the film was released).

Through them all, Gold displayed not only a strong artistic sensibility, but an innate power to capture the spirit and personality of a film within a poster. (Not to mention a cute sense of humor, as his poster for DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE demonstrates; it helped to make the little Hammer horror film a big commercial hit.)

I was fortunate to attend a Warner Bros. panel back in 2011, where Gold, then 90 years young, discussed his career and longstanding relationship with the studio. Most interesting was his personal reflections on working with different directors. Clint Eastwood, with whom Gold collaborated from DIRTY HARRY through MYSTIC RIVER, seemed to have a "less is more", easygoing approach, while Stanley Kubrick, in developing the campaigns for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BARRY LYNDON, was a maddening perfectionist -- requiring a WB courier to personally deliver artwork by air from New York to England, back and forth several times.

I then asked Gold about what it was like to collaborate with other illustrators like Bob Peak and Richard Amsel, whom Gold worked with on CAMELOT and THE STING, respectively. Gold was a fan of both artists, Peak being his most personal favorite, and he stated that while creative collaboration can have its ups and downs, in the end it's all about finding the right person for the right style of job. At the end of the presentation, someone asked Gold if he had any advice for aspiring artists looking to get their feet in the door within the industry -- and on movie posters in particular. His reply was both humorous and telling: "Learn to make good coffee."

Even in the early stages of shooting for my documentary, I knew a comment from Mr. Gold would be invaluable. He had known Richard Amsel personally, and worked with him on such films as The Sting, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and Woodstock. I reached out to him a few times, but sadly by then, his advancing age and declining health prevented an on-camera interview from happening.

Fortunately, Susan Gold was instrumental in providing me with some of Bill's comments on Richard Amsel for use within the film. I received a lovely email from her in March of last year, where she wrote:

Bill is having a great day and we had a nice conversation about Richard. Bill remembers Richard very well and immensely enjoyed working with him because Richard was not only a fantastic, creative, amazing illustrator, but Richard was a wonderful fun guy. ...

Richard was one of those guys that liked to work with Bill cause Bill gave him freedom to be creative and Bill loved working with Richard cause he always understood what it was that Bill was looking for in a piece of art. Bill is very proud to have worked with Richard and to have Richard Amsel illustrations in his personal collection.

I asked him how he felt when he heard Richard had passed away and he said he was very very sad. It was the kind of loss that stays with you for a long time because he was one of the good guys and a huge loss to the art community.

My deepest sympathies go out to Susan, as well as Mr. Gold's family and friends.

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