The Official Vintage Curtis Mathes site by Glenn Waters
Remembering the Great CM Designers.
Remembering the Great CM Designers.
Remembering… Ellen Manderfield, Idsa (1916-1999) Ellen Manderﬁeld’s distinguished five decades-long industrial design career reveals an illustrious personal talent and a unique, 50-year history of American Industrial design. In 1951, she jo...ined General Electric in Syracuse, NY, designing televisions and electronic equipment. Her television cabinet and hi-ﬁ designs show the range of 50’s popular taste, from traditional Early American to “Danish Modern” inﬂuences. In 1961 she designed three stereo consoles and four television consoles for the Curtis Mathes Company for their upcoming Christmas Season. Her design influence on the Curtis Mathes company could be seen in designs up to the mid-1960’s.
In the background...one of those beautiful televisions that was made by the early design team for Curtis Mathes 1959 -1960 run by Natalie Kalmus, she was nicked named the “bitch”. Noting like sweet Ellen Manderfield who was on the later Danish modern design team for Curtis Mathes 1961-1963. Natalie Kalmus once owned Natalie Kalmus, Television Co. it went out of business in 1952. CM hired her and all her design team in 1959.
Damn it feels good to be a Design Consultant! Natalie Kalmus head of the early design team for Curtis Mathes 1959 -1960
From the early 1930's Natalie Kalmus' name began popping up more and more in the film credits, sometimes as the Technicolor Cinematographer, but more often as the Technicolor Consultant. More and more the public became fascinated with Technicolor films, film directors and producers likewise were entranced by the artistic possibilities of Color Films. (If they just weren't so darned expensive to make!) But, something, or rather someone, else began to irk these film-makers more than the costly sets and lighting. That someone was Natalie Kalmus. Well, it's the old saying: Geniuses are never appreciated in their time. Natalie just seemed to get some of the most powerful and legendary people in Hollywood really pissed off. But, to be fair, one really ought not to blame Natalie herself. After all, she had studied art herself for many years in the United States and in Europe. She had worked along side her husband/significant other in a very difficult endeavor to perfect the Technicolor process. Natalie strongly believed in muted colors. She was acutely aware of how too vibrant colors could overwhelm a film and detract from the story line. Kalmus wrote: "A super-abundance of color is un-natural and has a most unpleasant effect not only on the eye itself, but upon the mind as well." She recommended the "judicious use of neutrals" as a "foil for color" in order to lend "power and interest to the touches of color in a scene." But, Hollywood, particularly MGM, was quickly bringing in their own color experts from the Theatre. Vincente Minnelli is a prime example of someone who was brought out to MGM specifically because of his talent with use of colors on the stage. Vincente bitterly complained about Kalmus stating that despite his own vast theatre experience, he "couldn't do anything right in Mrs. Kalmus's eyes." Kalmus was the Color Consultant for "Gone With The Wind"!!
It seems that more Hollywood stories end on a sad note; but Natalie Kalmus was if nothing else, a Personality. And, real Hollywood Personalities weather all defeats well, don't they? At the age of 67 in 1950, she was of an age to retire but she started her own television manufacturing company in California. When this remarkable short lived company went under, she and her design staff were hired by the newly formed Curtis Mathes Electronics division to design stereo, and television cabinets or the companies first line of consoles. She lived until November 15, 1965 passing away in Boston, Mass. And who wouldn't enjoy looking back on the kind of incredible life this Woman of the 20th C. lived.
Below is one of the consoles designed by her company in 1951 the commpany was in business less than three years and was located in southern California in the early 1950s.