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Mort and Millie Goldsholl Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2010-01
Preservation Sponsor: Council On Library and Information Resources;National Film Preservation Foundation
Extent of collection
322 reels of film of 16mm film; 27 rolls of 35mm film; 3 reels of 8mm film; 1 1/4" audio reel to reel
Inclusive Dates
1942 - 1980
Bulk Dates
1957 - 1971
Morton & Millie Goldsholl ran Goldsholl Design & Film Associates, one of Chicago’s leading graphic design studios in the 1950s through 1970s. The studio became recognized for their animations, progressive hiring practices and developing corporate branding packages for various companies. Their collection, donated to CFA in 2006 and 2010, contains commercials and industrial films that Goldsholl Associates made for their clients, experimental films and animations made by both Morton and Millie, unedited travel films shot by Morton and Millie and films (primarily animated) that the two collected over the years.
The Mort & Millie Goldsholl Collection is organized into three series:

SERIES I: Goldsholl Design & Film Associates Films
SERIES II: Personal Films (Animations, Experimental, Home Movies, Elements)
SERIES III: Collected Films (Animations, Experimental, Historical)

SERIES I contains 129 reels of 16mm industrial films made by Goldsholl Design & Film Associates for various clients. The dates of these films range from the 1950's to early 1980's, with the majority being made in the 1960's and 1970's. Each distinct title from this series is available for online streaming.   

SERIES II contains 183 personal reels of 16mm and 35mm films created by Mort and/or Millie Goldsholl. They include children's animations ("Up is Down", "Rebellion of the Flowers", "Intergalactic Zoo"), experimental films ("Night Driving", "Dissent Illusion", "Union Pier 1942: Film Experiments"), home movies and unedited footage Mort & Millie shot while traveling in Japan, Europe and Israel. It is unclear at the time whether the unedited travel footage in this series was originally shot to be used in Goldsholl Associates films. Also included in this series are production elements related to "Rebellion of the Flowers", "Up is Down", "Dissent Illusion" and "Night Driving". [This series is currently being processed. Items will be updated as films are inspected, digitized and cataloged - August 26, 2014]  

SERIES III contains 41 reels of 16mm films Mort & Millie Goldsholl collected over the years. The series includes eclectic and varied animations, experimental films and historical films. Notable reels include "Black White Grey" by Moholy Nagy, a mentor of Mort & Millie, as well as "Disintegration Line #1" by Lawrence Janiak, a colleague of Mort & Millie at Goldsholl Associates. The majority of this collection is unavailable for online viewing due to copyright restrictions.
Goldsholl, Millie (was created by)
Millie Goldsholl was born in 1920 and grew up in Freeport, New York on the south shores of Long Island. As a child she developed a love for pastoral life and art, creating elaborate chalk drawings of her family and grandparents' farm animals outside her family's home. Millie moved from the sidewalk to the easel when she entered high school. Here, encouraging art teachers inspired Millie to make a career out her passion for art. Millie moved to Chicago when she was sixteen with her sister and widowed mother. They moved in with Millie's brother, who had recently acquired a factory job and needed help around the house. After failing to enroll in art classes that required too many prerequisites, Millie joined her brother in the factory. Millie entered the design world through her husband, Mort, who invited Millie to enter the world of advertising alongside him. The two met at work, a paper box manufacturer where Millie did accounting and Mort designed packaging. Mort kept his day job as a freelance designer and encouraged Millie to enter the newly formed School of Design - the first school in Chicago to offer a design degree. Millie ultimately studied architecture, but the school's Bauhaus inspired environment encouraged her to experiment with different materials, mediums and machines. It is here where she was first introduced to filmmaking, and where she developed a life-long connection to Moholy-Nagy's vision of industry, art and design. In 1955, Millie and Mort established Goldsholl Design & Film Associates. Mort took responsibility for the design division, while Millie took charge of building a film division. Their Northfield, Illinois studio, design by Millie and built in 1960, reflected the flexibility and freedom of the Bauhaus tradition, combining traditional graphic design work alongside a filmmaking studio. Millie compared the studio to a beehive, noting that the proximity led to collaborations and experiments that wouldn’t have happened any other way. “We are involved here in every step of the film process, from idea to imagery,” Millie told Rhodes Patterson (interviewer, Container Corporation colleague & CFA Collection namesake) shortly after moving in, “and we find this maintains the integrity of the concept. Phonics can be manipulated with the same freedom as image. The auditory is mobilized to create mood. Images may be heard, and sound seen. It is not so much in the components of the film structure that its art resides, but rather in relationships, interaction and transitions that it assumes its significance. The pulse or rhythm of a film can produce tension, excitement and release,” she continued. “In editing, the filmmaker gives wings to the parts . . . cleaving them from their place in time and space . . . releasing them into a designer’s stratosphere––there to be juggled, taken, rejected, extended, clipped, superimposed and recomposed.” Filmmaking for the Goldsholls was a cerebral process that nevertheless thrived on serendipity. Millie once stated, "We’d rather make films that have guts than gimmicks – and we don’t equate gimmicks with honest experimentation and unorthodox techniques. Serendipity is something we are committed to." Millie died in May 2012, preceded by Mort in 1995.
Goldsholl, Morton (was created by)
Morton (Mort) Goldsholl was born in 1911 with the dream of becoming a great painter. “That dream dissolved in the nightmare of a depression and factory work for too many years,” he recalled. But he did manage to find work in the advertising industry, producing mat books, layouts, engravings and typeset.

At this time he also found Millie, his future wife, who shared his passion for design. That passion led them to the School of Design where Moholy-Nagy was preaching the doctrine of design awareness. His was the first school in Chicago to offer a design degree so while Mort kept his day job, Millie enrolled. But both gravitated to seminars and classes where Moholy-Nagy, himself an experimental filmmaker, invited friends like Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí to show theirs. “Film is the art of the century,” he would say, and the Goldsholls set out to prove it.

In a 1992 interview, Mort spoke of a special project he spent months on. He would take a single film slide, slice away pieces of the film and replace it with hair, feathers, dirt and other objects to make abstract images that, when projected, turned into impressionistic collages. He called the process “light painting.” When he showed it to Maholy-Nagy, his mentor walked him around the school into every classroom announcing, “This is what design is about.”

In 1955, Mort and Millie established Goldsholl Associates, which consisted of three groups - Goldsholl Design Group, Goldsholl Film Group and Informational Media. Mort already had packaging and design clients, so he became titular head with responsibility for the design division, while Millie took charge of building a film division. By 1963, the company had grown to about 30 employees so the Goldsholls built a spare office building on frontage road in Northfield, filling it with a stage, sound and editing suites for the movies alongside the designers.

While at Goldsholl Design & Film Associates, Mort created iconic logos and packaging for Motorola, Vienna Beef, Peace Corps, Alcoa and Brach's Candy, just to name a few. When he was asked what he liked most about his company, Mort Goldsholl said, “I enjoy my work immensely, but seldom the results. The playtime in design is the most joyful experience––the wasted moments in scribbles, dribbles and scratches that formulate vague thoughts into ideas and dreams into action. I don’t know how or why this is so. The problem is to get the final design to match the fleeting idea. The big dreams about the great work of art can too easily be dissipated in the practicalities of solutions, clients, markets, statistics, sales, function and committee decisions."

The Goldsholls worked together for 40 years until the company closed down in the 1990s. Mort died in 1995.
Custodial History
In 2006, Millie loaned films to CFA with the understanding that eventually she would gift them to CFA. Subsequently, MIllie Goldsholl became ill and was unable to manage her own affairs. In 2010, Goldsholl's son Harry Goldsholl, delivered the remaining films to CFA and donated all of them to CFA.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Goldsholl estate owns the rights to all Goldsholl affiliated films in the collection.
Related Materials
Chicago Film Archives' DeWitt Beall Collection contains sponsored films Beall worked on while working for Goldsholl Design & Film Associates. The Chicago Design Archives' website displays print and logo designs by both Morton Goldsholl and Goldsholl Design & Film Associates (