Columbia Pictures Logo: The Torch Lady & What She Represents

Columbia Pictures Logo
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

The woman in the Columbia Pictures logo is the most recognizable statue in the United States, second only to the Statue of Liberty. The stunning painting depicts a glowing sunset and billowing clouds surrounding a lovely woman. She, like the other famous monument, raises one arm with a torch and wears a flowing robe.

This elegant symbol began as the logo of a small Hollywood studio that grew into a Hollywood behemoth. The origins of this robed figure can be traced back to the early days of Hollywood. And by the end of this article, you’ll be able to understand the full story and how it has evolved over the years.

Columbia Pictures Logo: Overview of the Brand

There isn’t a moviegoer on the planet who isn’t familiar with Columbia Pictures, one of America’s leading film and television studios. Founded in 1924, the public company is now part of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, which has been owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment since 1989. The second company is a branch of Sony Group Corporation, which is the third largest multinational company in the world after Hitachi and Panasonic. Sony Group Corporation is the world’s largest media conglomerate.

In turn, Columbia Pictures, one of the top five studios in the United States, is made up of various divisions, the largest of which is TriStar Pictures.

The company’s development path has been challenging and perilous over the years. It changed its image often because it was always growing and trying to be among the first to use new technologies in its field. As a result, over the course of nearly a century, the corporation has been rebranded 14 times, changing its logo and television screen saver. Most of the time, the new logo was only used for a year before the next version of the trademark was made.

Columbia Pictures Logo: Exactly is Columbia?

Although she is known as the warrior goddess, warrior queen, or torch lady, the figure in the logo is really Columbia.

Columbia is a fictitious female character who embodies America. Christopher Columbus inspired her name. Early explorers called America “Columbia.” Columbia first appeared in poems, songs, paintings, and monuments in the 1700s, despite her lack of fame today.

Columbia was the embodiment of America. She was portrayed as a lovely heroine. According to the Atlantic, she is “Uncle Sam’s elder, classier sister.”

She was the inspiration for numerous songs and place names, including Columbia University, the District of Columbia, and the Columbia River.

Lady Liberty may have surpassed Columbia in popularity, but she lives on in the CBC logo.

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The history of the famous TV company began with the founding of its predecessor, CBC Film Sales Corporation. The Cohn brothers worked on it as a family effort. The company was run entirely by family members. There were family members and close relatives involved. Only a few members of the staff, as well as producer Joe Brandt, were not family members. The company was losing money and had a bad rating; many people sarcastically translated its acronym as “corned beef & cabbage.”

For five years, the family tried to keep the firm afloat until, in 1924, the company’s founders decided to take the final resort and rebrand (as it is now known). Surprisingly, they were able to get away from the bad reputation they had made for themselves. The new Columbia Pictures moniker aided in reversing the slump.

Nonetheless, until the middle of the twentieth century, the eventual American cinema and television leader had the lowest level of income among comparable film businesses. This prevented the budget from being expanded to the appropriate amount. The successful comedies of Hawkes and Capra kept the firm solvent.

It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and the comedian’s Three Stooges, all of which had modest production expenses, as well as other low-budget homemaker series. In order to save money, sets and props were not replaced. Instead, the same materials and decorations were used in more than one movie. The fact that Walt Disney Studios used Columbia Pictures to distribute its cartoons also helped the company make money.

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Because of the departure of Frank Capra and his comedies in the 1940s, the decade could have been condemned. However, an accident saved the company. Harry Cohn met Rita Hayworth, a cinema actress, and dancer who rose to prominence after appearing in “Gilda.” The company’s business took off from that point on. Especially after Harry Cohn’s fortuitous and timely choice to reorient one of its divisions away from animation and toward the creation of straightforward programs, which began to prosper in the early 1950s.

Three of the company’s films won Oscars at the same time during the present decade. And “Lawrence of Arabia,” directed by David Lean, was the fourth Oscar winner as early as 1962. The corporation makes considerable progress toward reaching national flagship status in its business.

The 1960s were pivotal years for numerous studios. Columbia Pictures sought out investors who could help the company through these challenging times. The Coca-Cola Corporation purchased the company in 1980. However, by the end of the 1980s, Sony Corporation had purchased a controlling share. The film company’s spectacular rise began at this point and continues to this day.

The company’s ups and downs, as well as historical events, were reflected in its brand signs, many logo revisions, and image. And the iconic modifications are just one example.

1924 – 1925

Before it got its current name, the film studio was called CBC Films, and its logo, which was made in 1918, was its only symbol. The letters CBC stood for the company’s founders, the Cohn brothers, and Joe Brandt. Their logo was a simple, black-and-white text-based badge that said “CBC” in a bold, classic font with letters that ended in a slight curl. Under the main wordmark, it said “Film Sales Corporation,” and the letter “R” had a long, fancy tail that stopped just above the cursive word “New York.”

The company was renamed Columbia Pictures in 1924, and the first official Columbia Pictures logo was created. It showed the Roman Warrior Lady with one hand holding a shield and the other holding a wheat spike. The wordmark was placed above the image in the center of the oval badge. The medallion has an intricate frame and two Greek columns on either side.

1925 – 1926

In 1925, the logo was changed to make it more modern. A black background was added, and the image’s features were made stronger and more confident. The symbol was now circular, and the wordmark was placed around its outside perimeter.

1926 – 1932

In 1926, the renowned “Lady with a Torch” initially appeared on the company’s emblem. It was also a circular insignia with a black background and the upper half of a woman’s body with her arm stretched up and carrying a torch. The inscription was placed around the circumference, but from the inside, and was created in a special serif typeface with bold, expanded capital letters.

1932 – 1933

In 1932, the logo was modified once more. It was now done in crimson, with more modern and distinct contours. The wordmark had a modern sans-serif font, and the red background around the woman had tiny white stripes coming from the torch. It was a fantastic logo design for the period.

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1933 – 1936

The logo returned to a monochrome palette in 1933; however, the visual identity approach from 1932 remained unchanged. The combination of black and white colors made the emblem look stronger and more professional, giving it a sense of power and authority.

1936 – 1938


The circular shape of the emblem was changed to a rectangle in 1936. The “lady with a torch” and the “additional logo” from the same year stayed. The secondary insignia was a full-size lady drawn with meticulous detail.

In terms of the main, official emblem, the rays were made bolder, and the writing was now done in two colors to add volume and make it look more dynamic.

1938 – 1945

However, in 1938, the corporation returns to its round shape. The logo is simplified: the lady’s delicate form is framed by straight, thin lines and contained in a double circular frame with the wordmark in black around its perimeter. The lettering typeface has also been modified to be a more confident and rigid one.

1945 – 1964

In 1945, the studio decided to make its secondary logo from 1936 its main logo. The detailed image of the lady had a wide ribbon around its bottom part, which had the caption “Columbia Pictures” in full capital letters.

1964 – 1975

The logo, designed in 1964, was the most minimalist in the company’s history. The torch was a stylized “C.” The sign was created in white with a black outline and shadow to create volume. The image was surrounded by a tiny square with rounded corners.

1975 – 1981

In 1975, an entirely new design was produced. It had a two-level black wordmark with a half-circle insignia in black and white above it. The emblem featured a stylized torch with a beam of sharp rays. It was bright, powerful, and fashionable.

1981 – 1989

The corporation “extended” the upper portion of the logo in 1981, placing the lady with a torch, surrounded by rays, on a black background. The inscription’s smooth serif typeface is unaltered.

1989 – 1992

The Columbia Pictures logo’s color was changed. The Lady with a Torch is now drawn in thick black contours on a white background, with the rounded black figure representing a beam of rays. The lettering was polished significantly but remained in the same style as in earlier iterations.

Today’s Columbia Pictures logo is from 1993.

The current logo for the company was made in 1993. It has an enlarged wordmark on the left and an emblem on the right. The lettering is done in a tight geometric sans-serif style, with square letters and strong bold lines.

The insignia is a delicate yet powerful depiction of the famous lady, surrounded by a curving line representing the cloud. The image is framed in a precise square frame.

It is a classic logo with a well-known symbol that shows respect for the company’s roots and history; a magnificent embodiment of grace and force.

The Columbia Pictures Logo Font and Colors

All of the requirements for high-quality visual information transfer had to be met for modern digital color TV and the Internet. The most recent logo was created in full color using Dynamics. The pinkish-red tint from the torch is perfect for taking a picture of the blue sky behind the clouds. The light’s glare and the iridescent circle it makes, which spreads out in waves, are shown in a very natural way. The word Columbia is written in Gothic volumetric font behind the torch, above the female figure’s head. Sony Pictures Entertainment Corporation is inscribed in small, gold-colored text beneath the figure.

A female figure is perched on a tiered pedestal. She is dressed in a Greek chiton and a blue cape, which she holds in place with her left hand. Her brown hair with a golden tinge blends in well with the background while sticking out and drawing attention.

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The Mystery Behind the Torch Lady

So we know that Jenny Joseph was the model for Columbia Studios’ current “Torch Lady,” but what about the previous logos? Who were the role models or inspirations who bravely carried the torch before Joseph? Several women have either claimed to be the models for the “Torch Lady” or have been rumored to be the inspiration. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Claudia Dell

While there is no evidence that Claudia Dell ever worked for Columbia Studios, her name was mentioned in Bette Davis’ 1962 biography, The Lonely Life, as one of the potential models for the Columbia Pictures logo.

“Dell, a beautiful blonde from Texas with blue eyes, became well-known on Broadway in 1927 after filling in for Irene Delroy in the Ziegfeld Follies. She moved to Hollywood and was signed by Warner Brothers. In 1930, she made her movie debut as the title character in the Technicolor musical Sweet Kitty Bellairs.

When musicals fell out of favor, Dell landed a job at Poverty Row Productions, where she spent several years working in B-westerns and potboilers. Her fortunes changed when she was cast as Universal and given the lead opposite Tom Mix in Destry Rides Again in 1932.

Following that were classics like Algiers (1938), starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr. Her resurgence, however, was brief, and she was soon back on Poverty Row, and her film career ended in the mid-40s. She moved to radio in the 1950s, where she worked for RKO (Howard Hughes’ organization) for five years, and she participated in many Lux Radio Theater shows for luminaries such as Cecil B. DeMille and Orson Welles.

She had her own television show, Leave It to the Girls, in New York and later worked as a student director at the legendary John Powers Modeling Agency in the mid-1970s.

Batchler, Amelia

According to People Magazine, another Texas-born model and Columbia bit player named Amelia Batchler modeled for the logo in 1933. Batchler remembers that the president of Columbia Pictures, Harry Cohn, told her and a lot of other women to go to the wardrobe.

She arrived at a studio where an Italian painter was painting her. “I believe it was in 1935 or 1936,” Batchler recalls. I was a stock contract player, and we did everything except sweep the floor for $75 per week.

We posed for various things and played minor roles, sometimes appearing in two or three images a day. Jobs were scarce, and $75 was a lot of money back then when a loaf of bread cost 10 cents. In any case, I didn’t mind posing. I’d won a beauty pageant in Dallas, and my main goal was to be known.”

Batchler performed in a few unremarkable films in the 1930s. However, she gained a tiny piece of immortality when she was featured as an “Ozmite.” This was in The Wizard of Oz (1939). She later married producer Keith Daniels and led a quiet life away from the spotlight.

Jane Bartholomew

Long ago, people thought that the version of the logo that came out at the end of the 1930s was based on an actress named Jane Bartholomew, who worked as an extra at Columbia at the time.

Harry Cohn, the head honcho of Columbia Pictures, discovered Jane Bartholomew. While there are no film credits for Bartholomew, she was likely largely a background player. In 1977, she talked about posing for the now-famous “Torch Lady” emblem on the Mike Douglas Show.

Jane, a brunette beauty from rural Pennsylvania, collected enough money for a one-way ticket to Hollywood, according to a 1976 People magazine article. She tried to get into the movie business for more than a year while living in a rooming house near Columbia Pictures and going from place to place. Jane was sad and about to leave Hollywood when she and other women were asked to pose as the Statue of Liberty for what was going to be Columbia’s “trademark” on screen. “No one knew if the photograph would be utilized. “We weren’t paid, but we believed it would lead somewhere,” Jane adds. When things didn’t work out, Jane relocated to Chicago and later married. Two years later, she was in a movie theater when her image appeared on the screen.

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Venable, Evelyn

EVELYN VENABLE, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native whose ethereal beauty enhanced films such as Death Takes A Holiday (1934), The Little Colonel (1935) with Shirley Temple, and Alice Adams (1935) with Katharine Hepburn, was another contender for our exquisite “Torch Lady.” In Walt Disney’s 1940 animated feature Pinocchio, she modeled and voiced the “Blue Fairy.” She married HAL MOHR, a two-time Oscar winner for his work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) and The Phantom of the Opera (1943), and they had two daughters. Venable left performing in her mid-40s to devote her full attention to her family.

She even returned to UCLA, where she later became a faculty member, teaching ancient Greek and Latin and arranging Greek theatrical productions in the Classics department.

Rose Edna Turiello

In the 1990s, someone found pictures of Rose Edna Turiello wearing a toga and holding a torch. She worked for Columbia in the 1930s. James, her husband, was a photographer. So we have a late entry into the puzzle of who was the “Torch Lady” of Columbia Pictures. Turiello, who died in 1979, worked for Columbia Pictures in New York City in the 1930s; her husband James, who died in 1983, had images from the original photo shoot of his wife, who was unquestionably the first model. The Columbia Pictures logo appears in these photographs, which show Turiello with a gown draped over her shoulders and holding a torch. In the 1990s, photo imaging showed that the first person who was shown was, in fact, Rose.

Finally, the best urban legend concerns the enigmatic “Torch Lady.” People thought for years that the logo, which has been used since the 1990s, was based on the well-known actress Annette Bening. While she does resemble the contemporary “Torch Lady,” we now know that she was inspired by New Orleans resident Jenny Joseph. But I like how the rumor has persisted for so long. In reality, in the 2000 film, “What Planet Are You From?” the Columbia logo was overlaid with Annette Benning’s face as a play on this urban legend.

Will we ever find out who the real models were for the many different versions of the famous woman? Most likely not. Perhaps all of the ladies were used, and a composition was made to capture their beauty, regal grace, and mystique. No matter what, “Torch Lady” from Columbia Pictures is still a shining example of elegance in the movie business.

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