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Vintage movie posters hang at Hartsfield-Jackson

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's newest rotating exhibit shines a spotlight on the stars of yesteryear. Fifteen movie posters, from the 1930s and 1940s, are on display in an exhibit called, "Vintage Poster Art from Atlanta's Loew's Grand Theater." The posters will hang in the airport's atrium until June 22, according to DeAllous Smith, a media relations officer for the airport.

The posters are part of a collection belonging to Herb Bridges, of Sharpsburg, Ga., who is known for another collection, of "Gone with the Wind" memorabilia.

The posters are 30 inches by 40 inches in size, and were created by artists at the former Loew's Grand Theater in downtown Atlanta, Bridges said. The posters promote films starring actors such as Mickey Rooney, Katharine Hepburn and Clark Gable, he said.

"During the golden age of Hollywood, movie palaces like the Loew's Grand enjoyed the prestige of having hand-painted promotional artwork hanging in their lobbies," said Katherine Marbury, manager of the Airport Art Program at Hartsfield-Jackson. "It was exciting for patrons to view the images of the top movie stars in vivid colors. I'm sure that, for those lucky theatergoers, it was an incredible experience."

Bridges said artists were sent 8-inch by 10-inch, black and white stills, from movie companies. The promotional photographs showed actors posing in character for the motion picture, he said.

The artists would then use the photographs to draw the image on the posters, Bridges said, and then use oil, water colors or chalk to render the images.

"We're delighted that Herb is sharing this rare collection with the world," said Marbury. "Today, the Georgia-Pacific Tower sits where Loew's once stood, but we're proud to say that the memories and splendor of Atlanta's iconic gem live on through this exhibit."

Bridges said that as a teenager, during a summer in the late 1940s, he worked at the theater as an usher.

He said the artists had a workshop behind the movie screen. "I remember putting them [posters] up," said Bridges. "Artists would always tell us to be very careful when putting them up, especially the chalked ones.

"It is amazing they've survived all these [years]," he said.

Loew's ceased using artists to create posters around 1949, because it was cheaper to purchase mass-produced posters, Bridges said.

Hand-made posters, especially from older, silent movies, now may be sold at auctions for $3,000 to $4,000, according to Bridges.

Bridges said he became interested in vintage movie posters when he began to develop a penchant for "Gone with the Wind" memorabilia around 1967.

"I don't know why," said Bridges. "I just got interested in it and re-read the book."

Bridges said his "Gone with the Wind" collection includes items such as original movie posters, pieces of the original movie costumes and copies of the book in different languages.

The memorabilia is displayed at The Road to Tara Museum, located at 104 North Main St., in Jonesboro, he said.

The movie poster exhibit at the airport "will be good advertising for us [the museum] and the visitors of the airport will enjoy that type of artwork," said Bridges.