During the 1950s, the science-fiction genre gained popularity in theaters – and production at Universal shifted to meet its demands. In order to visualize such imaginative storylines, Universal commissioned artist Reynold Brown to develop movie posters for those films.
Born in Los Angeles in 1917 and educated at the Otis Art Institute, Brown began his career during World War II working as an artist for a major US aircraft manufacturer, North American Aviation. Following the war, Brown continued his craft working on advertisements for numerous magazines and periodicals such as: Popular Science, Saturday Evening Post, and Boy’s Life. He also earned a teaching position at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and met Misha Kallis, an art director for Universal. Through Kallis, Brown’s career as a film poster artist took off.
Brown’s first assignment at Universal was to design the poster for the Gregory Peck film A World in His Arms. His work left a major impression with executives at Universal and he was quickly commissioned to more projects. During this early stage of his career as a poster artist, Universal started favoring his work compared to his better-known contemporaries and Brown quickly received industry-wide repute as one of the craft’s most secret weapons.
Throughout the 1950s, Universal utilized Brown’s highly imaginative and artistic skills to create posters for their slate of science-fiction-based films. One of his best trademarks and skills was his ability to illustrate chaos and mayhem with great detail. Whether illustrating actress Julie Adams swimming away from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, people running away in fear from a 50-foot spider in Tarantula, or a UFO crashing in a building in This Island Earth, Brown’s posters evoked the public’s imagination and fear and gave them their first glimpse into these bizarre worlds the films themselves tried to portray.
In 1976, Reynold Brown suffered a severe stroke that left him partially paralyzed, thus ending his career as a commercial artist. However, he did continue to paint with the help from his wife until his death.