One of the most interesting but ultimately frustrating projects I ever worked on was when Print, a New York communications design magazine, asked me to write an article on Georg Olden.
Georg who? I know most of you are asking. (And, yes, I spelled his name right.)
I would guess that few people, even African Americans in advertising, graphic design or television today, have ever heard of Mr. Olden. But almost 20 years before the March on Washington, Georg Olden was one of, if not, the first television art directors. He was definitely the first art director for CBS Television. He was there at the very beginning, creating many of the first logos and graphics ever seen on the air, anywhere. And, just to make sure you're not missing my point - he was what was then known as "colored".
Print magazine's head editor, Martin Fox asked Julie Lasky, managing editor, to ask me if I would write an article whose theme would be, "Whatever happened to Georg Olden?"
Well, to make a long, long story very short, the article I wrote was rejected by the magazine. They said I had failed to find out what actually happened to him. And technically, I guess they were right. Even though I dug up lots of previously unpublished information about Mr. Olden's life, before and after he left CBS, I didn't find out that he had been shot in LA by an irate girlfriend. Julie Lasky found that out, and she then used my material as the basis for much of her article. She even quoted me a few times.
But remember I said "technically" I didn't find out what happened to Georg. On a larger scale, I think I did. Good ol' American racism happened to Olden, even though it took its own sweet time getting to him. Ironically, for most of his life, the tall, handsome, light-skinned Olden seemed to think himself exempt from the realities of race and racism.
I just stumbled across a video of Olden on the old "I've Got a Secret" show on May 20, 1963. Isn't the internet amazing? When I was writing the article in 1993, the www was still just a glint in a DARPA techie's eye. Click on "Olden on YouTube".