Born in a small village west of Prague in 1926, Jaroslav Gebr studied at the Academy of Art in Prague from 1941 to 1943. Gebr was classmates with Emil Kosa Jr, who would become a critical art director at 20th Century Fox. Gebr escaped communist-occupied Czechoslovakia, fleeing to Munich. Eventually, he immigrated to the United States and reconnected by surprise with Kosa Jr, opening the door to Hollywood. Gebr’s first Hollywood project was Ada (1961), starring Dean Martin. Other notable early Hollywood projects include a mural for a Bob Hope picture, A Global Affair (1964), and painted special effects for Fantastic Voyage (1966).
MGM scenic art supervisor George Gibson brought Gebr in to paint key portraits for their full-scale Sistine Chapel recreation for The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968). Shortly after, Gebr would become the head of the scenic art department at Universal, primarily painting portraits for the studio, including the iconic credit art and chapter pages for The Sting (1973), producing key paintings for Rod Sterling’s Night Gallery (1969-1973), and painting dozens of portraits for feature films and private commissions including Barbara Streisand, Orson Wells, Lou Wasserman, Lucile Ball, and Alfred Hitchcock. Gebr presented three paintings to President Gerald Ford in the oval office in 1977, commemorating the U.S. Army’s 200th Anniversary. His works also hang in the Czech Republic Consulate in Los Angeles, CA.
Gebr, Tomas 2019. Telephone Interview with Karen Maness, October., Isackes, Richard M., Maness, Karen L. 2016. The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, ReganArts
Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr painted key portraits for MGM’s 1968 papal drama The Shoes of a Fisherman (1969)
Gebr painting for President Gerald Ford's oval office in 1977, commemorating the U.S. Army's 200th Anniversary
Courtesy Gebr Family Collection