Bill Gold
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Bill Gold, designer of such iconic movie posters as Alien and The Exorcist, dies at 97

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May 21, 2018

Bill Gold, designer of some of the most iconic movie posters of the 20th century, died Sunday at Greenwich Hopsital in Connecticut, a spokesperson has confirmed to SYFY WIRE. He was 97.

In a career that spanned decades, Gold was involved in the design of more than 2,000 movie posters, including A Clockwork Orange, AlienThe Exorcist, and Casablanca.

Gold was born on Jan. 3, 1921, in New York City. He studied illustration and design at Pratt Institute in New York, beginning his professional design career in 1941 in Warner Bros.’ advertising department. Gold’s first poster was for Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942, soon followed by Casablanca the same year.

After that, Gold designed posters for such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott, and Martin Scorsese.

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange (Warner Bros., art by Bill Gold)

“I know what movie posters should look like, instinctively,” said Gold in an interview with the American Film Institute in 2016. “My style is and has always been ‘less is more.’ I don’t like a cluttered look. Clean, simple and to the point.”

In 1947, Gold became head of poster design at Warner Bros. In 1959, he and his brother Charlie teamed up to form BG Charles to create the film trailers. Charlie operated BG Charles in Los Angeles, while Bill continued to work out of New York. In 1987, Charlie left the business and retired to Vermont. Charlie Gold died at the age of 75 on Christmas 2003.

After Warner Bros. shuttered its New York advertising unit in the 1960s, Gold founded Bill Gold Advertising in 1962, according to The New York Times. The studio was its principal client. 

The Exorcist

The Exorcist (Warner Bros., art by Bill Gold)

In 1994, Gold was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Hollywood Reporter, with his frequent collaborator Clint Eastwood presenting the award. In 1997, Gold moved Bill Gold Advertising to Stamford, Connecticut, and continued creating posters for every film Clint Eastwood produced, directed, and/or acted in, among others. 

Gold retired after working on Eastwood’s 2003 film Mystic River, but briefly came out of retirement to design the poster for the filmmaker's 2011 film J. Edgar.

He was an active member of the Society of Illustrators, the Art Directors Club, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In coordination with Gold's 90th birthday, a limited-edition, oversized one-volume retrospective of his career was published in January 2011.

Alien Poster

Alien (20th Century Fox, art by Bill Gold)

Gold told the AFI: “In my wildest dreams, I could not have foreseen the career I would have. As a young child, while other kids were out playing ball and riding their bikes, I was at home drawing. After graduating from Pratt Institute, I got a job in the poster department at Warner Bros. Who would have known that the first film I would work on would be the iconic Casablanca?”

Bill Gold

Bill Gold (Photo credit: Pam Einarsen)

Gold is survived by his wife, Susan, son Bob, daughter-in-law Joanne, daughter Marcy, grandson Spencer, granddaughter Dylann and her fiancé Justin, great nephew Jaaron, and his dog Willoughby.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.