Long before Colin Farrell, Colm Meaney and Jonathan Reese Myers, Dublin had irrevocable links to Hollywood, right back to its formative years. Its pretty much common knowledge now that the roaring lion in the clip at the start of MGM films, Cairbre, was born and reared in Dublin zoo. Less well known is the fact that the man responsible for his presence, Cedric Gibbons, was a Dubliner.
Disputed the fact may be, as little is known of his early life, but most reports say Gibbons was born in Dublin on March 23, 1893 into a wealthy family, with an architect father and a housewife mother. Conflicting reports say that he was born in Boston, but nonetheless, both sides of the story state that his parents were Dubliners. Gibbons was an architect and artist before joining the Edison Studios in 1915 as an art director. By 1918, he had moved on to working for producer, Sam Goldwyn, the “G” in “MGM” motion-picture studio, which formed in 1924.
His talent saw him work on approximately 150 films throughout his career, but arguably the most interesting thing about him is that he is credited with designing the first “Oscar” statuette in 1928. one of the original 36 founding members of The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences, the model for the the original statuette was his future wife, actress Dolores Del Rio. He went on to win eleven Oscars himself, notably for his work on “Pride and Prejudice” (1940), “Little Women” (1949), and “An American in Paris” (1951.) In total throughout his career, he was nominated for thirty nine of the awards.
I’ve searched the 1901 and 1911 census’ for an architect Gibbon’s in Dublin but couldn’t find any reference. An elusive character he may be, the presence of Cairbre in the MGM logo gives at least some credence to the story that one of Tinseltown’s most decorated art directors was a jackeen.