fb icon

Letters

Letter archivist to his son, Christmas Day, 1993.

This is the letter which prefaced the large binder of 1935 letters, their stamped covers, and their associated photographs depicting places and people Ned Scott encountered in his Arizona travels in that year. During the building of this binder for a Christmas gift to his son, this archivist discovered many unknown things about Ned Scott's photographic history, and most important, he discovered a man he never knew while growing up as a child in La Canada, California. It was a stunning revelation to encounter such a different and unknown persona in these 1935 letters, and the question arises as to what happened to this intensely creative and connected photographer. Where did he go? By the time this writer was four years of age, Ned Scott had put down his cameras for good in 1948.

Here is the set of the United States Winged Globe series of air mail stamps from the 1930's which became part of the Christmas Gift to the archivist's son in 1993.

Mexico Museum

Letters and faxes dated July and August, 1994 between E. Norman Scott and Victoria Blasco, Curator of Photographs at the Centro Cultural / Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City. These pieces of correspondence discuss those actions which quickly developed into permanent placement of Ned Scott's photography in this esteemed collection in Mexico. Ned Scott's prints were exhibited in this museum and later included in the catalog of their permanent collection, "Luz Y Tiempo". This fortuitous outcome would not have come to pass had the Ned Scott Archive not been created just weeks earlier.

Letter Ned Scott Archive to Victoria Blasco, Curator of Photographs, dated July 20, 1994

Letter Victoria Blasco, Curator of Photographs to the Ned Scott Archive dated August 4, 1994. Approval and acknowldegement Faxes between Victoria Blasco and the Ned Scott Archive follow.

The Centro Cultural / Arte Contemporaneo published their permanent catalog of photographs in their collection in 1995. They titled the catalog "Luz Y Tiempo". Ned Scott's two "Wave" photographs appeared on pages 106 and 107 of the third book in the catalog. These are reproduced here for the record. Though initially acquired by Manuel Alvarex Bravo as Paul Strand prints, these two images were printed by Augustin Chavez in the early 1980's, sold most likely at auction. Manuel Alvarez Bravo, an extraordinary gentleman and fine photographer, never knew he had been duped and swindled by his old compadre, Augustin Chavez.

Letter from E. Norman Scott to Naomi Rosenblaum

Intro to go here

Letters from E. Norman Scott to Fred Zinnemann, 1995-1996

It was by great good fortune that research located Fred Zinnemann in London in the latter half of 1995.  Mr. Zinnemann, it will be seen, was receptive to correspondence about his old friend, Ned Scott, from the "Wave" days in Mexico 1934.  A series of letters was exchanged during the last half of 1995 and the early part of 1996, and these letters focused on many forces surrounding both Ned and Fred in those days.  It was this key discussion which opened the door to a wider understanding of Ned Scott's career in Hollywood.  These letters also record several foundation developments within the Ned Scott Archive which were occurring during the months of correspondence.  Toward the end of this period, Fred Zinnemann decided to donate to the Archive his original "Wave" prints which Ned Scott made for him in Mexico City prior to departure from Mexico in December 1934.  These letters were machine made copies of ones this author had sent to Mr. Zinnemann.  Mr. Zinnemann's written responses, along with his phone calls to the Archive, are not represented here out of respect for the Fred's surviving family members whose permission has not yet been requested.

Letter from Louise Platt in 2002.

"In 2003-2003 the Ned Scott Archive collaborated with the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum to mount an exhibit honoring the making of the movie Stagecoach in 1939. Among the many interesting features in the exhibit was an edited excerpt from a letter written by cast member Louise Platt in 2002. In her letter, Louise reminisces about the process of filming the movie. She recounts tales about John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Ford, John Carradine and other key members of the production. Her letter stands alone as an artifact by itself, offering a brief glimpse into the inner workings of film production. Readers may view a transcribed version of this letter here.

Finances

Right from the start, as the Early Personal Notes demonstrate, the need for money became apparent. A decision had to be made fairly quickly. Is the Archive to be organized as a nonprofit entity, or is it to develop on a traditional business model? On the one hand, working with Ned Scott's original material was never intended to be a revenue producing enterprise, especially at the beginning. Due to this feature, a nonprofit profile might have appeal. On the other hand, however, this archivist felt nauseous at the idea of soliciting donation funds from organizations and individuals just to research and develop Ned Scott's photographic history. Plus, no clear indication surfaced at the beginning which gave any hint that large sums of money might be needed to follow through with such a project. Choosing a more traditional, for profit model seemed the way to go given that whatever monies might be required here and there as research proceeded would likely be fairly modest, and it was thought, manageable at the personal level. This was a gross underestimation. But, nonetheless, a traditional financial organization of the Ned Scott Archive was set. And, as it was later learned, grant applications to appropriate government entities could always tried if push came to shove.

No more than a few weeks after reading Ned Scott's 1935 letters in October, 1993, the writer was contacting major photo labs in Louisville for specific tasks. These early jobs were those needed to produce the Christmas Gift binder mentioned in the narrative. Original negatives were given over for processing to these labs, and cheap resin coated (RC) contact prints were made. As time went on into Winter and Spring, 1994, more specific work was being done. This involved the processing of large, 8 x 10 color transparencies from Hollywood movies which Ned had worked, and then saved in his collection. These were Kodak "Safety" kodachromes. Decent prints of a select few of these images were made for the record, framed in a presentable manner, and stored away. This early activity was spotty and undisciplined, but necessary to set the stage for later developments in the archive. By the end of May, 1994, the archivist had spent $7,070. Along with travel expenses, paid vendors included Metro Group Photographic, Kinetic Corporation, First Color (all labs), Framers Supply, Whittenberg Photographic Supply and Light Impressions (archival storage supply).

Legal assistance and professional consulting soon followed. By November, 1994, a director for the archive had been secured. Further consultations with attorneys as to the development of the archive took place. The Palace Theater in Louisville had just been restored at great expense. Managers there became interested in a display of Hollywood personalities from the Classic Era, and the archive was recommended to them. The archive developed a display of 13 each 30 x 40 double matted and framed prints for the Palace. Further consultations with Anthony Montoya at the Paul Strand Archive lead to the borrowing for processing of several of Ned Scott's prints from their Wave file. A value of $500 was assigned for each of these prints for this procedure. Thus, for the first time in their existence, each Wave print had a certified value. This was important for insurance purposes.

Processing with labs in town continued. At the suggestion of the director, two new activities for the archive were instituted. One was the development of a photographic darkroom for neg printing and proofing, and the other was a copyrighting program. As 1995 wore on, both of these programs saw serious accomplishment. By the end of September, 1995, the financial outlay had increased significantly with these new activities. Besides the vendors listed earlier, payments were made to new entities: Bohn Fiberglass, Randell Elkins (director), Rita Kent (custom framer), Chubb Insurance, Calumet Photographic Supply, Aperture Foundation, Reliable Lab Supply, Yellow Freight, Photographic Systems, Paul Strand Archive, Masters Framing, Maple and Associates, (legal) Wheat, Camoriano, Smith and Beres (legal) and various local hardware companies and building supply companies. This period of time, June 1, 1994 through September 30, 1995, saw an outlay of $24,952.00. So it was that in the first 18 months of existence, over $30,000 was spent to develop the archive.

A need quickly emerged for a dark room, office space and storage area.  Personal funds were expended and these needs were met.  The creation of demonstration files (based on the diffeent topical categories within the negative file) was accompished to lay the foundation for displays and photo showings.  Several formal showings were conducted.  These were themed shows with write-ups in the Louisville Courier Journal Art Section, written by Arts Editor Diane Hilenman.  Travel jaunts were taken for fact-finding purposes.  By the time the Louisville based archive was disbanded in 2002, a rough total of $250,000 was spent.  $104,000 of that amount went for archive director compensation. 

Afterwards, the archive continued in Honolulu to the present day.  Though it's reach is primarily electronic, research continues.  The Ned Scott Archive site was created to provide a platform for this research.  Since its inception in 2007, the site has steadily expanded to include more material which pertains to Ned Scott's film career, what it consisted of in the context of the 30's-'40's timeframe, and its relevance to the study of film today.  Numerous books have recently been pubished which include Ned Scott film images along with scholarly discussion of scene portrayals and their importance to film themes.  The internet age is a welcome development, enabling many film aficionadoes and researchers quick and easy access to the details of Ned Scott's career.  And expenses to maintain this site are far less than those of earlier years.  On top of that, an aggressive acquisition program has netted the archive at least 270 original Ned Scott prints for the files.   Costs for these prints vary widely, but the total expenditure to date (2016) is roughly $33,000. Working with such partners as the Internet Movie Database (IMdB), the Archive has greatly expanded the list of Ned Scott film credits from a total of three in 2007 to one hundred and seven today (2016). Today, hundreds of interested readers are accessing the site every month to learn about Ned Scott and the period in which he worked and to enjoy viewing the many fine images he created. 

 

 

Overview

 

December, 2010

What's the future path for the Ned Scott Archive? "Unknown" has to be the answer. That Ned Scott's body of work has its own force, depth and will is undeniable: it has been revealed in the history of the Archive. Where it will go, and what form it will take are hidden aspects, but clues may be found by visiting past events. And so it is appropriate to take a look back at the history of the Archive.

The archivist finds it fascinating, if not a little disturbing, that after so many years of patient and deliberate effort to accomplish a well defined goal that the goal is not any closer to completion today than it was 17 years ago at the archive's inception. This is fascinating because so much has occurred in the pursuit of that goal without moving materially toward it's long sought conclusion, and disturbing because unexpected malign forces surrounding Scott's work, while only glimpsed earlier, have now become clearly manifest in their proportion, scope and reach. These are not negative findings, far from it. They highlight the native life force of the artwork as it tries to assert itself.

The goal of the archive at its inception was the preservation, research and the opening up of the Ned Scott Photographic Collection, boxed and sealed for 60 years, to the world at large. The driving engine of all archive activity was, and continues to be, the linking of Ned Scott's name to all his photographic material in public circulation or in private collections. This goal remains the same today as it was at the inception of the archive despite the multitude of events, discoveries and disappointments of the intervening years.

Archive activities began in Louisville, Kentucky.  Highlights of these activities to be discussed include five in town exhibits, the building of a fully stocked darkroom with 30 x 40 capabilities, donations to and from key individuals and insitutions, limitied auction at Sotheby's in New York,  articles in regional and national magazines, travel to key haunts familiar to Ned Scott in the '30's and '40's, a prominent national exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City,  and the selection of a Ned Scott image by the US Postal Service for a commemorative stamp issue in 2004.  An archive director was hired, serving for seven years for total compensation of $104,780.00.  The archive moved from Louisville to Honolulu, Hawaii in 2002 and continues operations as of this writing.

Roles of Ned Scott's surviving relatives will be discussed (along with those of his two parents, Florence and Norman, Esq.)  These include myself, Ned's son, Penelope Scott Sing, Ned's daughter, and Delia Scott Tyrwhitt, Ned's younger sister.  Ned's older sister, Ellen, died in 1954.  How these important parties viewed Ned's career and how their perceptions drove their behavior vis a vis the development of the Ned Scott Archive are telling features bearing on the outcome of archive events. Many of the forces surrounding Ned's life and career, it will be seen, remain active influences imbedded in his artwork. That this body of art survives, more or less intact, is something of a miracle.  The tumble of events manifests the strength of those forces, but despite their compelling destructive nature which emanates directly from members of Ned's own family, his work always seems to find a way to smooth seas and calm waters.  Leonard Cohen makes this point in discussing his own art, and he says it far better than I ever could: (Ned's old friend, Henwar, would understand perfectly)

"Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in..."

Appearing here will be actual letters written to and by archive members, with postal covers where available along with emails and facsimiles. Significant phone calls on archive business will be represented from personal notes made in the time frame. Letting the facts speak for themselves will be the goal of this narrative, much the same way Ned Scott's photographic eye allowed his subjects their true, honest and respectful expression.

Further events and circumstances are chronicled below as the years unfold.

2013 Update

It has come to pass that the fraud perpetrated by Augustin Chavez against Ned Scott and Paul Strand has been thoroughly exposed.  All Ned Scott material has been clearly distinguished from that of Paul Strand, and confusion within the photo art community has dissipated.  New films which Ned Scott worked under his Columbia Pictures contract have come to light.  The films score for Redes/The Wave, composed by Sivestre Revueltas, has become something of enormous interest within the musical community.  Metropolitan symphonies around the nation have begun performing this score while at the same time rolling the film for the audience.  This outcome has occurred largely due to the remastering of the original film neg by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation. This year the Cannes Film Festival will feature Redes/The Wave and more metropolitan symphonies will perform the score for audiences.  This archive allowed permission for usage of a number of the images from that film for the WCF's use in their campaign to promote the new version of the film.  Letters by Paul Strand, Henwar Rodakiewicz and Fred Zinnemann, posted here on this platform have proved very helpful for understanding the production process of Redes/The Wave in 1934.  James Krippner, a college professor and author, wrote an excellent book on the subject of Paul Strand's Mexican experience from 1932 to 1934, and this book was published with the help of Filmoteca through the Aperture Foundation in New York.  Twenty-two of Ned Scott's images were reprinted in the chapter of that book which chronicled the film's production. The author inscribed a copy of the book which I gave to Penny Sing, Ned Scott's daughter and my sister.  It is such a fine piece of work and a splendid tribute to Ned Scott. The Ned Scott Archive has been able to contribute to these developments, and indications are that this process will continue into the future.

The insights expressed in my letters to Fred Zinnemann, posted below in this section, have proven to be prescient.  Fred had an innate sense about the direction of Ned Scott's photography, and ensuing events proved him right.  

2014 Update

One of the noteworthy accomplishments this year has been telling the story of the making of the film The Story of G.I. Joe, 1944.  I am always scouring the internet for any new Ned Scott images which appear from day to day.  (There are always 10 or more habitual ones per day).  Late in December of last year, a large group of prints for the G.I Joe film cropped up on eBay in their original format. Almost all of these had never been seen before.  I could not resist purchasing as many as I could.  So began a four month effort to tell the story of the film's creation.  This was worth the effort mainly because in today's world, few people know about Ernie Pyle, and fewer still have a grasp of how influential he was in the making of the film.  That's because Ernie is known for his writings and the Pulitzer Prize he won for his 1943 book "Here Is Your War", not for his film making efforts. 

The task was absorbing for me.  I used three books for reference which I fortunately had on hand, being previously purchased because Ned Scott had been montioned in each.  This was an excellent body of material from which to find original subject matter which related to how the film was done.  And though this took me much time and energy, I am very glad I did it.  It's a Hollywood story which was hugely influenced by un-Hollywood individuals and institutions.  The Federal Government was involved in enabling important aspects of the film so that the authenticity and feel might be as accurate as possibe.  It is the only film made during the war which used actual war veterans as actors.  Ned Scott's effort on this film is his most important one of his career.  Please visit the discussion here.

2015 Update

This was the year that I began to analyze Ned Scott's photograph making processes.  Exposing the public to more and more photographs as I captured them at auctions and sales was inducement for separating them into various categories.  These categories were nicely discussed in Ned Scott's article published in The Complete Photographer magazine in 1943.  He titled his article Photography in the Motion Picture Industry, and when it was published in 1943, a number of his photos appeared to illustrate various points discussed in the article. 

Using these categories from the article, I created several new pages on this site.  In those pages I mounted photographs which correspond to these different types of photos.  In Leg Art and Gag Shots, I placed photographs which highighted female stars in various poses which showed off legs and costumes.  Gag shots were something different, but they conveyed the same relaxed attitude of stars as they were busy with home chores, surrounded by favorite pets, costumed in holiday attire, etc.  Another category created this year was the Menace Shot.  Nothing gets the attention of the movie going public like a threatening photograph.  Ned Scott made a number of these for his films, especially during the war years and afterward as the film noir genre proliferated in Hollywood.  Glamour Shots, of course, were an expected theme of all Hollywood phtographers.  I populated this page with many of Ned Scott's famous portraits of "A" list stars of the day.  And finally, I made a page which discussed the revenue side of Ned Scott's activity, called Taxes.  This page is loaded with scans of 1099's from various studios, and they make very interesting reading.  Looking at these documents, one can't help but come to the conclusion that the life of the Hollywood photographer in those years was decent, fulfilling financially and challenging. 

2016 Update

One of the most pleasing events just occurred halfway into the year. Mark Vierra, famed Hollywood author and friend of the Archive, wrote a book, published by Running Press of New York, which discusses the emergence and proliferation of the Film Noir genre in Hollywood during the 1940's.  A large number of film titles are presented in chronological order to convey the essence of the genre.  These films are unrolled for the reader using comments from reviewers of the day and selected photo stills to convey the deeply menacing undercurrents of these films.  He titled his new book, Into The Dark.  While the selection and mastering of the stills are Mr. Vierra's work alone, Running Press did a very credible job of layout, sizing and paper selection to enhance the visual impact of these images.  The result is a riveting book. Vierra credited some of his many images selected for his book to Ned Scott, and he further honored Scott with favorable mention in his book's forward.  Nothing could please me more, that Ned Scott's photography achieves the recognition it so richly deserves. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Concerns

Any sane person would conclude from what is presented here that Ned Scott's surviving family is united behind the attempt to bring his story and artwork to the attention of the world at large.  The Ned Scott Archive just did not come about one night and then emerge full blown in the light of day in its present form.  Even a cursory glance would convince the strongest skeptic that the willing participation of a number of dedicated individuals was necessary to achieve the level of complexity and richness of the story to date.  While it is true that many qualified persons have lent a willing and contributory hand to the formation of the Archive, it must be said that only one family member has carried the burden of this work.  A further point to make, much to my chagrin, is that the remaining family members not participating have made serious efforts to quash this emerging story rather than abet its telling. Both Ned's sister, Delia, and Ned's daughter, Penelope, aggressively and maliciously torpedoed all efforts to bring Ned Scott's story to the public at large, to support research into his career, and to preserve his legacy.

There are reasons for this outcome, and they are rooted in the past.  Ned Scott's upbringing set the stage for future events in his life, and this element has already been discussed in the biography.  Ned emerged into adulthood brimming with negative feelings for his parents, especially his father.  Edward Norman Scott, Esq. was a professional golfer, and he spent his time traveling the European golf circuit.  He was not available to Ned in a family environment.  Their relationship was distant and strained, and Ned resented him for placing him into British boarding schools where he found it difficult to merge with other students because he only spoke French.  Resentment and disdain for his father was an unfortunate development from his experience there, and he retained those feelings throughout the rest of his life.  He was never able to forgive his father for his inattention.  When his father died in 1961, Ned refused to accept his father's favorite things into his household.  If no support came from that quarter, then where did it come from? Support did come from allies, powerful ones at that, but not from members of his own family save for his mother.  I think that Ned Scott felt a certain loneliness and isolation because of this fact, and it may have contributed to the nature of his work.

Ned had two sisters, Ellen the older by four years, and Delia the younger by four years.  Ellen possessed a classic beauty, almost Grecian in character.  Little is known of Ellen because few letters survive which she wrote to any of the family members.  Nonetheless, a rough idea of Ellen's nature may be formed by reading the 1935 Arizona letters.  Ellen's name is often found in these letters, and the comments of others toward her are revealing.  Ellen was a part owner of the J Six Cattle Company, a dogeared cattle ranch East of Benson, with another easterner by the name of Jack Spieden.  Ned visited the ranch and stayed there for several summer weeks working on mending fences and digging water wells.  While there, Henwar Rodakiewicz, Peggy Bok, the Nielsons, Cady Wells and other visited Ned.  These letters relay how Ellen was viewed in those days.  Apparently Ellen was high strung, emotional and given to breakdowns.  A high maintenance woman.  Only a few letters from her to Ned Scott are strongly critical of Ned for one thing or another.  By the time of Spring, 1936, Ellen had left the ranch, presumably being cashed out of her investment by Spieden.  In summer of that year, Jack Kennedy showed up with his older brother to work for the summer.  Ellen died an early death in 1954 from lung cancer.  By that time she was living with her new husband in a small house in the Palo Alto Hills where she was busy breeding pedagree Weimaraner dogs.  It's difficult to find any substantial influence Ellen had on Ned's career.

Delia, however, is another story completely.  Delia married an officer in the British army by the name of Tyrwhitt, and letters reveal that he was in the intelligence branch.  Early in Ned Scott's career in Hollywood, Delia and her new husband would visit Ned on various production sets at several of the major studios.  Being a union member with the International Photographers of the Motion Picture Industries (I.A.T.S.E.), local 659, Ned could visit studios at will with guests.  Letters catalog these visits with Delia and her husband, mentioning how impressed they were with the whole  film production scene.  Meeting and talking with Freddy March and Joan Bennett, for instance, proved memorable indeed.  In today's environment, just imagine dropping in on a Jamer Cameron production, meeting and chatting with stars like Sigourney Weaver: it was that kind of special thing for Delia.  Delia and Ned Scott had a more in depth relationship than Ned had with his older sister, and this proved important as World War II erupted.

Major Tyrwhitt was stationed in Singapore in Fall of 1941.  Being his wife and sole family, Delia was there with him.  After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, British naval officials in Singapore ordered a key task force currently on station to sortie Northward up the Malay Penninsula to prevent Japanese amphibious landings onto the Northern end of the Peninsula. The task force consisted of two ships of the line, the battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse and four destroyers. They never made it.  Twin engine Japanese bombers flying from bases in Indo China and Formosa promptly sunk both ships of the line.  This event marked the first time that major naval assets were sunk by land based aircraft.  Even though the British officials in Fortress Singapore took the news with brutal shock, they did not listen or heed the tide of events.  Major Tyrwhitt, being informed of the effectiveness, ingenuity and savagery of the attacking Japanese land forces, could not persuade General Percival and his advisers that danger was absolute for Singapore and time was of the essence.  Percival mounted a serious defense too late and too weakly to be effective, and Singapore fell to the Japanese on February 15, 1942.  But prior to this disaster, all civilians and military dependents were evacuated.  Letters from Delia reveal that she was resigned to the move but reluctant to go.  Ned Scott stepped in to help by contacting his friends in Melbourne, Australia through Vallejo Gantner, his old friend at Gantner and Mattern Co. in San Francisco, who was married to Neilma Sydney Meyer of the influential Meyer family.  Arrangements were made and Delia found willing friends who took her in at this difficult time.  Major Tyrwhitt died in the final assault on the island of Singapore.

Delia wrote to Ned Scott from Singapore.  Her address was 4 Caldecott Hill Estate.  On October 3, 1940 her letter made mention of a certain friction or unease in her relationship with her brother.  "Did you get a letter written in February? Or were you so fed up with me that you refused to answer it? Maybe it never reached you..."

Hints of strife between Delia and Ned Scott would erupt into outright shouting matches and slamming doors years later.  As a boy of eight or ten, I remember the times when Delia would visit our home in La Canada, California. She would situate herself in our guestroom, but after two or three days, stormy arguments would erupt between Ned and her, and consequently she would be banished to a local motel. I could never understand any of this, of course, and no one would try to explain it to me.  To keep things smooth over the years, my mother, Gwladys, would carry on a steady correspondence in writing. There are numerous letters from Delia in the files going all he way back to the 1930's.  These letters have content which is newsy and empty.  These letters served to keep the lines open.