Columbia Lady History

In one incarnation or another, the Columbia Lady has preceded Columbia Pictures films almost since the studio began making movies in 1924. But who is she? Every few years there’s another story about who inspired the signature icon of Columbia Pictures. People magazine claimed that it knows, Bette Davis’ autobiography speculates about the source, and an actress claimed in a Midwestern newspaper that she’s the real Lady. Could one of them be right? Just who is the Columbia Lady?
There’s really only one place to find the answer, the Columbia Lady’s true champion, Jared Jussim, Executive Vice President, Intellectual Property Department and Deputy General Counsel of Sony Pictures. It’s his job to protect her image from being sullied at home and abroad. Although there’s an alarming collection of Medieval-looking weaponry stacked under the window in his office, Jussim assures us that though he may sometimes have to protect Lady Columbia’s image with sharp words, he has never had to use a sharp sword. At least, not yet.
Jussim immediately puts the rumors to rest. “She’s a composite,” he says, going on to explain that while the image retains the consistency necessary to sustain it as a trademark, her appearance has varied slightly through the years. Jussim explained that while in the early days the Columbia Lady wore an American flag as a drape, the U.S. passed a law that made the wearing of the flag as clothing illegal. The Columbia Lady obliged and changed her shawl to blue.
Going forward, her looks may change slightly with the times, but she’ll always be an icon. She’s bigger than a single individual—she’s the trademark of filmmaking quality.