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WHO WAS HARRY OLIVER?

A Mini-Bio
and some Harry Oliver Quotes

Desert Rat Scrap Book

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A HARRY OLIVER MINI BIO

Sketch by Walt DisneyHarry and Commma, the proofreading cat Harry Oliver [1888–1973] worked as a bill-poster for the Ringling Brothers circus and then moved with his family to Puget Sound, Washington in 1909. He worked as a scenic painter for the first Seattle World's Fair (Panama-Alaska-Yukon Exposition) where he met famous hat-maker John B. Stetson, who gave Oliver his trademark black Stetson hat.

Harry was a near-legendary Hollywood art director; twice Oscar-nominated, one of the first people ever nominated for an Academy Award; a designer, showman, newspaper columnist, self-publisher, and desert character (i.e., liar, joker, mirage salesman, press-agent to a ghost, etc.).

He lived part-time around Borrego Springs, California in the 1920s and 1930s, then moved full-time to Thousand Palms, California around 1940. There he built Old Fort Oliver and, for decades, sporadically published the Desert Rat Scrap Book, "The only 5-page newspaper in America, and the only one you can open in the wind."

Harry collected and promulgated some of the best lore and lies ever written about the West. His paper had a small but global following, and was cited in Benjamin A. Botkins' classic Treasury of Western Folklore.

As an art director and set designer, Harry strongly influenced the Expressionism of Friedrich Wilhelm (F.W.) Murnau (Nosferatu, Sunrise, Tabu). Harry's film credits include such classics as 7th Heaven, Mark of the Vampire, Scarface, Sparrows, Street Angel, The Good Earth, The River, and Viva Villa!. As a designer of commercial symbols such as the Van De Camp Bakery windmill and the Willat Studios Witch House, his work is world-famous in Los Angeles.

He was a designer of western scenes such as Gold Gulch at the 1936 World's Fair. He also designed hoaxes, such as scattering weathered peglegs around the Salton Sea area.

As a public figure, he at least has a street named after him, even though Old Fort Oliver, an adobe which he built himself, was replaced by a combination gas station/mini-mart.

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HARRY OLIVER QUOTES

Here are some Harry Oliver quotations. Ford

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