December 15, 2015

Two things you didn’t know about the 1960 Winter Olympics

Poster for 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, by Jack Galliano. (Author's collection)
Poster for 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, by Jack Galliano. (Author's collection)

It’s December. Drought-weary Californians are looking skyward in hopes that this year we’ll get rain, and more importantly, snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

55 years ago, Kaiser Industries played a role in a major Sierra snow event – the 1960 Eighth Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California. The official poster for that Olympics was designed by Jack Galliano, of Kaiser Graphic Arts.

Steve Gilford, a Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources colleague, interviewed Galliano in 2004 and wrote this:

Jack Galliano was Art Director of Kaiser Graphic Arts with an office in the Kaiser headquarters in Oakland, Calif. First Henry and then Edgar Kaiser had relied both on his graphic skills and on his taste to carry out assignments as varied as a “sky’s the limit” 80th birthday party for Henry Kaiser to producing annual reports for the Kaiser companies. In 1967, he designed the first Kaiser Health Plan Annual report. Because his work seemed to be everywhere in the Kaiser organization, he’d become known as “The Palace Artist.”

A senior man smiling while looking at a poster on the wall.
“Palace artist” Jack Galliano, photo by Steve Gilford

Galliano’s most famous work though was not done for a Kaiser company. Kaiser Graphic Arts was a division within the Kaiser companies and operating as a business, recharging for work done within the Kaiser family of organizations and also competing very successfully for outside business. One such competition was for the design of the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics poster, a prestigious assignment that was wanted by graphic designers everywhere. Galliano entered and won. His Olympic poster was produced in five languages and distributed around the world.

The poster was printed at Kaiser Graphic Arts’ union shop nearby in Oakland at 865 Isabella Street.

The selection of Squaw Valley was controversial. When resort owners Wayne Poulsen and Alexander Cushing (no relation) bid on the Games, it was a long shot. The resort had only one chairlift, two rope tows, and lodging for 50. To pay for the massive expansion necessary to properly host the Games, the federal government provided about a quarter of the $80 million required.

Renault — official car of the 1960 Winter Olympics

There was another Kaiser connection. The official car of the 1960 Winter Olympics was the Renault Dauphine, a rear engine economy car (you know it's an economy car when the advertising boasts of features such as a heater and defroster), and 75 of them were used to shuttle athletes around. (This little beast was not the same as Kaiser's 1950 " Henry J," also a practical and affordable car.)

The year before, Kaiser Motors’ joint venture with Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A. contracted with Renault to produce the small car and badge it the IKA Dauphine. The Dauphine was also produced in Brazil under license by Willys-Overland (another Kaiser Motors company at the time) between 1959 and 1968.