The fascinating true story behind one of Hollywood’s most famous (yet little known) faces: Photographer who shot iconic Columbia Pictures ‘Torch Lady’ logo reveals how she plucked a colleague from obscurity to pose for the photo in her DINING ROOM
- The photographer behind the Columbia Pictures ‘Torch Lady’ is Kathy Anderson
- She captured the reference photos used for the iconic Michael Deas painting
- The shoot took place on a lunchbreak with Jenny Joseph as the one-time model
She’s one of the most recognizable faces on screen – but she’s not a Hollywood star.
Columbia Pictures’ ‘Torch Lady’ has introduced us to films since 1924, but in 1991 artist Michael Deas was commissioned by the film studio to update its logo and he asked photographer Kathy Anderson to take reference photos for his painting.
And when Deas struggled to find a suitable model Anderson suggested her colleague, Jenny Joseph, who was a graphic designer for New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune at the time.
Despite never modeling before, the British graphic designer agreed.
She’s one of the most recognizable faces on screen – but she’s not a Hollywood star. Jenny Joseph was enlisted to be the model for Columbia Pictures’ ‘Torch Lady’
‘We are both amused by the attention it gets, even to this day,’ Anderson, who went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for her Hurricane Katrina coverage, recently told Yahoo Entertainment.
One of the most iconic images in cinema was captured during a lunch break in the photographer’s apartment.
‘After moving my dining room table out of the way and converting the living room of my apartment into a studio, I set up a mottled gray backdrop,’ Anderson revealed.
Deas’ vision was created with simple props such as ‘sheets, fabric, a flag and a small lamp with a light bulb sticking out of the top,’ Anderson told the publication.
Joseph was meticulously draped in white bedsheets to mimic a Roman goddess and the fabric was constantly rearranged for the best outcome.
They tried a few looks with an American flag draped over one shoulder, but ultimately chose the blue fabric.
She attached a Polaroid back on her Hasselblad camera to snap some test-shots while perfecting the softbox lighting to accentuate the folds in the fabric.
Anderson says the soft lighting created the gentle sunrise light the painter envisioned, and was meant to evoke a sense of beauty and timelessness.
She has introduced us to films since 1924, but in 1991 artist Michael Deas was commissioned by the film studio to update its logo, with Joseph taking the starring role
Photographer Kathy Anderson was asked by Deas to take reference photos for his painting
Joseph was meticulously draped in bedsheets to mimic a Roman goddess and the fabric was constantly rearranged for the best outcome. She revealed she was pregnant during the shoot
Previously the photographer told DailyMail.com she ‘had no idea how iconic the image would become.’
‘During the shoot, Jenny asked if she could sit down for a minute,’ Anderson said in the 2022 interview.
‘I shot one frame of her seated, which may be my favorite image from the shoot.’
After chatting for a minute, Joseph, who has never modeled again, confided that she was pregnant.
In 1924, the Columbia Pictures rebranded from its previous name Cohn-Brandt-Cohn Film Sales and opted for a new logo.
They selected the name ‘Columbia’ as a tribute to the early American female personification of the United States who stood for ideals like freedom and enlightenment (hence the torch).
Lady Columbia faded in popularity once the Statue of Liberty went up and became the new female symbol of America.
The photographer says she stays in touch with Joseph (pictured), with Anderson saying: ‘She is just as surprised as I am at the continued interest in it’
Some of them have been notable actresses who have posed as Lady Columbia include Evelyn Venable, Claudia Dell and Amelia Batchler
Over the years, many notable women have posed as Lady Columbia in various incarnations of the logo.
Some of them have been notable actresses like Evelyn Venable, Claudia Dell and Amelia Batchler.
When Sony Studios bought Columbia Pictures in 1991, they decided they needed a brand revamp and hired Deas to update the logo.
‘I believe the painting was done on spec,’ Anderson recalled.
The image has since gone on to become a ubiquitous motif in American visual culture.
The photographer says she stays in touch with Joseph and the two like to send each other memes of the logo online, adding: ‘Then we both have a good laugh.
‘She is just as surprised as I am at the continued interest in it.’
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