A career in movie posters

September 5, 2016 GMT

GREENWICH — Turn the corner in Bill and Susan Gold’s Old Greenwich home and you will come upon a classic villain: Al Pacino’s bank-robbing Sonny Wortzik from “Dog Day Afternoon.”

Then there’s Clint Eastwood’s ruthless San Francisco cop Harry Callahan from the “Dirty Harry” series and Malcolm McDowell’s violent futuristic thug Alex DeLarge in “A Clockwork Orange.”

It’s not your typical home decór.

But Bill Gold has an excuse, or maybe even a mandate. The artwork lining the walls are prototypes or original sketches and prints of movie posters he has been designing for more than 50 years. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Golds count Eastwood as both an artistic subject and a personal friend.

“Good guy, really great guy,” Susan Gold said on a recent tour of the art coating the walls of her home.

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Casablanca” posters hang in the basement, where Susan and Bill each have offices. Casablanca, which came out in 1942, was one of Bill’s earliest contracts.

Bill Gold has been the man responsible for determining the images conjured up by nostalgic movie buffs for half a century. Many of his original pieces of work will be on display and available for purchase at the C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich from Sept. 10 until the end of the month.

On Bill’s desk sit an iMac, various office supplies and a fake arm that is sown up around the elbow and lies on a stack of books.

Upstairs Bill, 95, is asleep on the couch before company arrives for brunch.

“I think it’s time to share it with other people,” Susan said.

The Golds are taking the art for the exhibition straight off their walls over the next few days. Boxes of frames sit in the corner of their dining room, beside dark wood chairs and a table laid with brightly-colored dishes. In the corner is a zany statue of a mustached man with a tall top hat, goatee and conniving smile.

Susan first met Bill when they were each living on Long Island and commuting into Manhattan city for work. After they married, she began to work as his assistant, and she said when computers entered the design scene Bill would stand over people and try to tell them to do things that the computers couldn’t do.

That frustration eventually led to Bill learning to use a computer himself, refusing to surrender his spot near the top of the creative industry despite his age. More recently, he came out of retirement to design the poster for “ J. Edgar,” a movie directed by Clint Eastwood about J. Edgar Hoover that came out in 2011.

“I think he was 80 when he decided, ‘I’m just going to do it,’” Susan said.

Susan would help Bill prepare up to 25 poster designs for any given movie contract. Usually, one of those was a winner, but for “In the Line of Fire” they presented more than 80 before the producers picked the one they liked.

After that, Bill Gold works with illustrators and other artists to get the initial design to the point of a finished product.

The results of all that back and forth are a lot of drafts, a lot of original work by well-known illustrators and an insight into the creative process of Bill Gold himself.

“People who are really serious collectors, these are a treasure trove,” said Tiffany Benincasa, principal at the C. Parker Gallery. “These are all the riches and everything that’s wonderful about him.”

On some occasions, Bill and Susan disagreed with the designs chosen by the Hollywood producers. The other options will make up a significant portion of the exhibition.

Bill Gold is set to personally appear at a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the gallery.

“My phone is ringing off the hook,” Benincasa said. “It’s just amazing how iconic this guy is, and how highly regarded he is in the industry.”

pfrissell@hearstmediact.com; @PeregrineFriss