The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will present six weeks of programming exploring the large community of predominately Jewish, Austrian-born film artists and movie industry professionals who helped establish Hollywood’s classical era, the museum announced on Monday.
Artists that will be included in the focus include directors Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Fred Zinneman and Otto Preminger; actors Hedy Lamarr, Peter Lorre and Paul Henreid, producers Eric Pleskow and Sam Spiegel, as well as many others.
The six-week program launches on Dec. 10 with the two-day symposium “Vienna in Hollywood: The Influence and Impact of Austrians on the Hollywood Film Industry, 1920-2020s.” The symposium is organized by the Academy Museum, USC Libraries and the USC Max Kade Institute, with support from the Austrian Consulate in Los Angeles.
“Our team has been collaborating with the USC Libraries, USC Max Kade Institute, and liaising with the Austrian consulate for more than 18 months to bring this series to fruition,” Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum, told TheWrap. “We’re excited to finally share it with the world and shine a spotlight on the Austrian-born community that was so instrumental in shaping early Hollywood.”
The announcement comes on the heels of an Oct. 15 article in the Jewish publication Forward criticizing the museum’s lack of focus on the Jewish immigrants involved in the building of Hollywood. Wrote the author of the article, Sharon Rosen Leib, “…after touring the museum’s seven stories, I discovered that Hollywood’s pioneers, who busted their tucheses (Yiddish for rear ends) building the industry it celebrates, ended up on the cutting room floor.”
Many have gotten their first glimpse of the museum in recent weeks. The $484-million edifice on the corner of Fairfax Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. opened to the public on Sept. 30.
“During the classical Hollywood era, so many beloved films and so many components of the movie industry were shaped by Austrian emigres, including Erich von Stroheim, Max Steiner, Vicki Baum, Fritz Lang and many others,” Kramer said. “The Academy Museum is deeply committed to scholarly and dynamic explorations of film history. We are thrilled to be presenting the work and vision of these groundbreaking artists and professionals whoa re a core part of our cinematic history.”
Paul Lerner, professor of history at USC and director of USC’s Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies, said in the statement, “The Max Kade Institute is thrilled to partner with the museum and the USC Libraries for this wonderful series of events on the unique Austrian contributions to Hollywood cinema and Austrian and American cross-cultural cinematic currents. Vienna in Hollywood perfectly embodies the Institute’s founding mission of documenting the lives and work of German-speaking emigres and exiles in Southern California, those predominately Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Central Europe who shaped the landscapes and cultures of Los Angeles in the 1940s and beyond.”