Robert Rodriguez fineartprintsca

The art and interests of Robert Rodriguez

Tag: MGM Makeup Department

The Ten Gallon “Hollywood Hat”

hollywood hat

There is a fascinating article on the internet about Mr. Holland at  that discusses this cowboy hat.  Joe Blitman bought the hat and did some pretty sophisticated detective work to figure out who it had originally belonged to.  Someone had gotten almost all of the biggest stars at MGM and 20th Century Fox to autograph the hat.  Eventually he managed to track it down to Cecil Holland.

In the article, Hazen Drive in Coldwater Canyon is named as the house where Mr. Holland and his wife Norma lived.  But when I knew him they were on Nagle Ave. in Sherman Oaks, though I do know about that house in the canyon from stories Mr. Holland told us.  He talked about a tunnel that secretly lead out of the library of the house into the hillside where there was a hidden barroom.  Prohibition would have been in effect at the time.  Mr. Holland would be behind the bar mixing drinks and his guests would be sitting on built-in benches, when he would press a button and toy spiders would descend from the ceiling on silken threads and land on the guest’s shoulders.  Mayhem would ensue!


Cecil Holland wearing his “Hollywood Hat” and there is still room for more signatures.  And what a dude, collar stay, stick pin, and a tie clip!  Nice knot too.


The Man of a Thousand Faces


Cecil Holland started as an actor in films.  I still have a photograph of him as Jesus, though I never found out what movie it was from.  Since this was still the very early days, a lot of the actors did their own makeup.  Mr. Holland was an artist, and he became so adept at makeup, that he was known as the Man of a Thousand Faces.

But as time went on, he was doing more makeup and less acting until he headed up and organized the first studio makeup department in Hollywood at MGM.  I know, among other films, he did Luise Rainer in The Good Earth and was in charge of all the makeup artists working on the original version of Ben Hur .  He even was responsible for doing the ring around the eye of Petey the dog in the Our Gang Comedies.  He worked with all the biggest names in Hollywood for years.

When his friend Lon Chaney was starting to get known, Mr. Holland gave him the use of his “Man of a Thousand Faces” nickname, having no longer any use for it, since he’d given up acting by that time.


Here is a photo of Clark Gable autographing a ten-gallon hat for Cecil Holland.  Snazzy sweater, eh?