“Who was Harold Grieve?” by S.M. O’Connor

Harold Grieve (1901-1993) was successively a silent film era costume designer and set designer who parlayed his talents and reputation into being interior designer to the stars.  Grieve started his career in Hollywood as a costume designer.  At the age of twenty-three he designed the costumer of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), the second of what have been, thus far, four adaptations of General Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel of the same name.[1]  In the 1920s and ‘30s, he worked as a set designer.[2]  He was married to Dutch-born silent film star Jetta Goudal (1891-1985) from 1930 until her death.[3]  After she retired from acting, she joined her husband in his interior design business.[4]  He designed interiors for the Pickfair residence of actress-producer Mary Pickford (1892-1979) in Beverly Hills; the residences of the singer-actor Bing Crosby (1903-1977) at Toluca Lake and Rancho Santa Fe; the residences of actor-director-screenwriter-producer Robert Z. Leonard (1889-1968) and his wife, silent film star Gertrude Olmstead (1897-1975), at Malibu and Hollywood, as well as his office at M.G.M. Studios; the residence of screenwriter-director-producer Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) in Bel Air; the residence of director-producer Hal Roach, Sr. (1892-1992) in Beverly Hills; the residence of director-producer Raoul Walsh (1887-1980) in Beverly Hills; and the residence of comic actress Gracie Allen (1895-1964) and her husband and straight man, actor-writer George Burns (1896-1996) in Beverly Hills.[5]  He joined the U.S. Navy during the Second Great World War and rose to the rank of commander.[6]  In 1946, he designed a new village on Rongerik Atoll for the benefit of the inhabitants of Bikini Atoll, whom the U.S. Government moved to allow for the test detonation of an atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946.[7]  Grieve served as president of both the American Institute of American Designers (now the American Society of Interior Designers) and the Los Angeles chapter.[8]  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the Harold Grieve Papers.

Grieve, who had re-designed silent film star Colleen Moore’s mansion, designed the interiors of Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, in particular, the Library.[9]  “The leading characters in Fairyland will live in this house,” he told Colleen Moore, “and they will naturally be interested in antiques.  They’ll want to shop all the auction galleries and antique places in Fairyland, hunting for King Arthur’s Round Table to go in the dining room, and Sleeping Beauty’s bed.  There will have to be a mixture of periods and places.  For instance, Aladdin’s Lamp will have an oriental connotation.  How will that go with pre-Tudor English?  We’ll have to come up with a new theory of interior design.”[10]

END NOTES

[1] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993 (http://articles.latimes.com/1993-11-21/news/mn-59241_1_harold-grieve) Accessed 12/04/17

[2] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[3] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[4] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[5] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[6] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[7] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

Four days later, when French fashion designer Louis Réard (1897-1984) had model Micheline Bernardi parade down a Paris runway in his new two-piece swimsuit, he called it the “bikini” to assure the attention of the press.  See Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers (1987), p. 322

[8] Myrna Oliver, “Harold Grieve; Designer in Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, 21 November 1993

[9] Colleen Moore’s Doll House: The Story of the Most Exquisite Toy in the World. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. (1935), p. 5

Museum of Science and Industry, The Doll House of Colleen Moore: A Fairyland Castle. Chicago: Museum of Science and Industry (1949), p. 6

[10] Colleen Moore, Colleen Moore’s Doll House.  Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. (1979), p. 11

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