April 26, 2015 —
Dolores Del Rio, star of Edwin Carewe's newly rediscovered 1928 version of "Ramona" and the first film superstar to hail from Mexico, is one of the four actresses featured in the gaudy "silver gazebo" in the traffic island at the corner of Hollywood and La Brea boulevards in Hollywood, Calif.
The public art piece was commissioned by the city of L.A.'s Redevelopment Agency and created in 1993 by Catherine Hardwicke, a Hollywood production designer and art director.
The name of the piece is "Four Ladies of Hollywood" and is intended celebrate to ethnic diversity of the leading ladies of cinema. The other three are Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge and Anna May Wong.
Dolores Del Rio (Aug. 3, 1904 - April 11, 1983) was born to an aristocratic Spanish family that lost everything in the Mexican revolution of 1916. By the early 1920s she had moved to Hollywood where
director Carewe reportedly discovered her while she was dancing the tango at a dinner party. Carewe, who was Native American (Chickasaw), put her under contract at $250 a week and cast her in her first film in 1925
("Joanna"). An instant sensation, she was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time — the contemporary and equivalent of Rudolph Valentino.
She appeared in several more of Carewe's films including the 1928 film adaptation of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, "Ramona," which was inspired in part by the people and setting of Rancho Camulos
in the Santa Clarita Valley. The film was considered lost until a print was discovered in Prague in 2010.
Del Rio would make the transition to talkies. She married MGM art designer Cedric Gibbons
(her second marriage; she had been married in Mexico) and had a four-year fling with director Orson Welles (coinciding with "Citizen Kane"); Welles considered her the great love of his life.
Del Rio later returned Mexico where she enjoyed a second career and became the most important star of the Golden age of Mexican cinema.
About the "Four Ladies of Hollywood" art piece — from the Smithsonian Amerian Art Museum's Art Inventories Catalog:
Artist: Hardwicke, Catherine, designer; Brogan, Jack, sculptor; West, Harl, sculptor; Prantis, Richard, contractor; Chase, Margo, designer.
[Original] Title: Hollywood and La Brea Gateway, (sculpture).
Dates: 1993. Dedicated Feb. 1, 1994.
Medium: Gateway: stainless steel, glass, neon, gilded metal; Base: concrete, granite tile.
Dimensions: Gateway: approx. 30 ft. x 11 ft. 6 in. x 11 ft. 6 in.; Base: approx. 12 x 12 x 12 ft.
Inscription: (On plaque on sculpture:) Designer: Catherine Hardwicke (On plaque below figure:) 1923 DOROTHY DANDRIDGE 1965/First Black Woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress for "Carmen Jones." (On plaque below second figure:) 1906 ANNA MAY WONG 1961/Starred in Silent and Talking Pictures including "The Thief of Baghdad" and "Shanghai Express." (On plaque below third figure:) 1904 DOLORES DEL RIO 1983/Starred in more than 30 films in Hollywood and dozens in Mexico including "What Price Glory." (On plaque below fourth figure:) 1893 MAE WEST 1980/Writer and Star of a string of hits including "I'm No Angel" and "My Little Chickadee." (Down the outside of the spire in neon:) H/O/L/L/Y/W/O/O/D (In the arches of gateway, between figures:) HOLLYWOOD signed.
Description: Sculptural four-sided gateway is an art-deco style gazebo with four stainless steel full-length portraits of Hollywood actresses supporting an open roof structure. The actresses portrayed are Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong and Dolores Del Rio. All four figures wear glamorous long gowns. Each figure stands on a square base. A spire rises from the top of the rounded, open gazebo roof. Neon lettering runs vertically down the four sides of the spire. At the top of the spire is a small windvane. The windvane is a gilded full-length portrait of Marilyn Monroe holding her billowing skirt in place. The gazebo stands directly on a plaza. The plaza floor within the gazebo is granite tile mosaic patterned in the shape of a star.
Subject: Portraits, female:
West, Mae (Full length); Dandridge, Dorothy (Full length); Wong, Anna May (Full length); Del Rio, Dolores (Full length); Monroe, Marilyn (Full length); Performing Arts - Theater - Performer.
Object Type: Outdoor Sculpture - California - Los Angeles; Weather vane; Sculpture.
Owner: Administered by City of Los Angeles, Community Redevelopment Agency, Art Program, 354 South Spring Street, 7th floor, Los Angeles, California 90013
Located: Hollywood Boulevard & La Brea traffic island, Los Angeles, California
Remarks:The gateway was commissioned by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) at a cost of $75,000. Hardwicke was commissioned to design the gateway. Subcontractors included Brogan who served as technical artist; West who served as sculptor; Prantis who supervised the work; and Chase who designed the graphics. IAS files contain copies of related articles from Vogue, Dec. 1993, pg. 84; Park Labrea News/Beverly Press, Feb. 17, 1994 and Los Angeles Times, Jan. 19, Feb. 14 and 28, 1994, which discuss the controversial piece,
Condition: Surveyed 1994 August. Well maintained.
References: Save Outdoor Sculpture, California survey, 1994.
Note: The information provided about this artwork was compiled as part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture database, designed to provide descriptive and location information on artworks by American artists in public and private collections worldwide.
Repository: Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum, P.O. Box 37012, MRC 970, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Control Number: IAS CA001356