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Van Nest Polglase (August 25, 1898 – December 20, 1968) was an American art director. He was nominated for six Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction.[1] Best remembered as head of the design department at RKO Pictures, he worked on 333 films between 1925 and 1957.

Van Nest Polglase
Born(1898-08-25)August 25, 1898
DiedDecember 20, 1968(1968-12-20) (aged 70)
OccupationArt director
Years active1919-1957

He was born in Brooklyn, New York and died in Los Angeles, California. His death notice noted that he was "survived by his son Dr. Van Nest Polglase and 2 grandchildren",[2] his wife, Helen, having predeceased him six months earlier.[3]


Education and early careerEdit

Polglase studied Beaux Arts architecture and interior design in New York City where he entered practice with the architectural firm of Berg and Orchard, before moving to Havana in 1917 where he was an associate designer on the Presidential Palace.[4][5][6] On his return to New York in 1919, he signed with Famous Players—Lasky (Paramount) whose art director Wiard Ihnen had recommended him as a draftsman, but Polglase turned his hand to design and soon relocated to Hollywood where he designed one of the first American Art Déco sets for The Magnificent Flirt (1928) and worked for MGM until 1932 when Polglase was recruited to RKO by David O. Selznick.[4]

Selected filmographyEdit

Polglase was nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Art Direction:[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ " Van Nest Polglase - Awards". Retrieved December 7, 2008.
  2. ^ "Deaths, Funeral Announcements" Los Angeles Times December 22, 1968 p. C24 via ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986) accessed March 29, 2010.
  3. ^ United States Social Security Death Index via
  4. ^ a b Donald Albrecht "The Art of RKO. Van Nest Polglase And The Modern Movie Set: A Pioneer Who Changed The Cinematic Landscape" Architectural Digest June 2009 Archived June 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Van Nest Polglase." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 4: Writers and Production Artists (2000 4th ed.) reproduced in Biography Resource Center Gale 2010.
  6. ^ Ray Banks (comp.) WWI Civilian Draft Registrations [database on-line] crediting original data: United States, Selective Service System. Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1987-1988. Microfilm Publications: M1509.
  7. ^ "NY Times: Van Nest Polglase biography". NY Times. Retrieved December 7, 2008.

External linksEdit