Lights, camera, Eastman!

Posted by on Mar 04 2010 | Other

George Eastman and Kodak, the company he founded, have had a long history with motion pictures as well as the Academy Awards®.

In this 1928 publicity photo, George Eastman, left, and Thomas Edison assume their positions in motion picture history — Eastman with his film and Edison with his camera. This photo hangs in the George Eastman Green Room at Kodak Theatre.


Eastman is known to the world as the father of popular photography, yet he is also the father of motion picture film. Eastman and his Kodak engineers adapted the film from the 1888 Kodak camera for Thomas Edison’s movie machines, thus giving birth to the motion picture industry. Folklore has it, when Edison received the first film sample from Eastman, he shouted to his workers, “Gentlemen, now we have it. Work like hell!”

George Eastman at age 36, when he began collaborating with Thomas Edison on motion pictures.


And Kodak film continued to be perfected. The original film was made on glass tables and had a maximum length of 200 feet. In 1902, Eastman’s engineers created a machine that made it possible to manufacture continuous lengths of film — and movies, in their current form, were born. 

The late 1920s were important years for Kodak’s involvement in the entertainment industry.  As Hollywood was adding sound to movies, Eastman was already demonstrating motion picture film in full color.  And, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was being established, Kodak was establishing its own operations in Hollywood.

Eastman was named an honorary member of the Academy in 1930 in recognition of his “fundamental contributions to the arts and sciences of the motion picture.” To this day, Eastman and Edison are the only two people ever named honorary members of the Academy.

Also in 1930, Eastman spoke before the Society of Motion Picture Engineers – the only recording in existence of Eastman’s voice. In that speech he said, “During the past 50 years I have witnessed with the greatest interest and satisfaction the growth of the motion picture industry. Of recent years that industry has demanded to an increasing extent the application of scientific and technical knowledge and it will be far more dependent upon the work of the engineers in the future as it has in the past.”   

Through the years, working with the entertainment industry, Kodak innovations in sound, color, and quality have earned numerous Oscars®, and have made it possible to tell more creative and compelling stories in motion.  And from the beginning, the vast majority of motion pictures presented with Oscars® have been made on Kodak film .

George Eastman received his first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1961. A second was unveiled in 2002 in front of Kodak Theatre.


There are two stars honoring George Eastman on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first was unveiled in 1961, bearing a symbol of a movie camera, located on Hollywood Boulevard near the intersection of Highland Avenue. A second was installed in 2002, facing the entrance to the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards® where the best motion pictures are honored — and named for the company Eastman founded and the entertainment-imaging legacy he created.

Inside the Kodak Theatre you will find the George Eastman Green Room, in which hangs a large portrait of Eastman alongside Edison at the Kodacolor Party of 1928, on the Eastman estate in Rochester, N.Y. In the famous publicity pose, the two men assume their place in history: Eastman with his motion picture film and Edison with a motion picture camera. This was their last public appearance together, with Edison passing two years later and Eastman within four years.

At the Kodacolor party, Eastman introduced amateur color motion pictures to the world. He invited national press and Hollywood executives to his home for the product launch. After dinner, he showed his guests themselves in moving color, for the first time in their lives. Eastman had his guests filmed earlier in the day and rushed the processing, his announcement to be that much more dramatic. He made headlines around the world. A marketing genius and innovator till the end …


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    Dresden Engle is the Public Relations Manager for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

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    One Response to “Lights, camera, Eastman!”

    1. For those interested, you can see and do a virtual visit to the George Eastman stars on the walk of fame by going to and typing in George Eastman.

      04 Mar 2010 at 7:01 pm