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True film buffs know them by name

Forest Lawn highlights two poster illustrators who created indelible movie images.

February 10, 2014|By Gene Sculatti
  • A movie poster from "The Thing" by artist Drew Struzan is on display at an exhibit at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale.
A movie poster from "The Thing" by artist Drew… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

Cemeteries aren't usually thought of as hotbeds of activity, but last Saturday night at the Forest Lawn Museum, atop the memorial park's Glendale grounds, proved the exception. As a blues band blared and colored lights splashed off the white walls of an adjacent chapel, several hundred guests ate, drank, danced and kibitzed in the museum plaza — all in the name of art.

The occasion was "Drew & Bob: Masters of the Movies," the latest exhibit in the museum's series of open-to-the-public cultural events. The show runs through May 26.

One can be excused if the names Drew and Bob don't immediately ring bells. To a great many film buffs, illustrators, directors and producers, they need no introduction. The rest of us are acquainted with Drew Struzan and Bob Peak through the iconic movie posters they created: more than 200 in all, including Struzan's classic paintings for "Stars Wars," "Rambo," "Indiana Jones" and "Back to the Future," and Peak's designs for "Apocalypse Now," "My Fair Lady," "Star Trek" and "Camelot." Some 50 early sketches and finished art for Struzan and Peak's posters (the two men worked separately) were on display at the museum, along with abstract and straightforward paintings from each artist's career. Struzan, 66, was on hand to meet and greet. Peak, who died in 1992 at 65, was represented by his son, Tom Peak.

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Both men, whose work literally defines the art of the film poster, had ties to Southern California and its design community. Kansas-raised Peak realized that a career in art might be feasible when, as a sailor during the Korean War, he drew portraits of his shipmates to send to their loved ones back home. He moved to Los Angeles to attend the Art Center, when the prestigious school (now Pasadena's Art Center College of Design) was located on Third Street in Hancock Park.

Upon graduation, says Tom Peak, his father "headed straight for New York, to work in advertising. It was the real 'Mad Men' era. He did work for Coke, Time magazine, fashion layouts, then got the call to work on the campaign for 'West Side Story.' Then came 'The Birdman of Alcatraz,' 'Camelot' and he was on his way." Despite the movie connection, Bob Peak continued to live and work in New York and Connecticut.

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