Welcome to the Harry Oliver Fandom Center. Work proceeds - I need to do more image scans and text entry from my several DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOKs. Got any issues? Email me.

NEW! Join the Desert Rat Scrap Book discussion group!

 sketch by Walt Disney

Harry Oliver [1888-1973] was a near-legendary Hollywood art director [twice Oscar-nominated, one of the first people ever nominated for an Academy Award]; Scrap Book a designer, showman, newspaper columnist, self-publisher, and desert character [i.e. liar, joker, mirage salesman, press-agent to a ghost, etc].

He lived part-time around Borrego Springs CA in the 1920s and '30s, then moved full-time to Thousand Palms CA around 1940. Here he built Old Fort Oliver and, for decades, sporadically published the DESERT RAT SCRAP BOOK archive, "The only 5-page newspaper in America, and the only one you can open in the wind."

Harry collected and promulgated some of the best lore and lies ever written about the West. His paper had a small but global following, and was cited in B.A.Botkins' classic TREASURY OF WESTERN FOLKLORE.

 7th Heaven

As an art director / set designer, Harry strongly influenced the Expressionism of F.W. Murnau [NOSFERATU, SUNRISE, TABU]. Harry's film credits include such classics as SPARROWS, 7th HEAVEN, STREET ANGEL, THE RIVER, MARK OF THE VAMPIRE, SCARFACE, VIVA VILLA!, and THE GOOD EARTH. As a designer of commercial symbols [the Van De Camp Bakery windmill and the Willat Studios Witch House], his work is world-famous in Los Angeles.

As a designer of western scenes, [1936 World's Fair - Gold Gulch] and hoaxes [scattering weathered peglegs around the Salton Sea area], he was hilarious. (Note: For more on Gold Gulch, search here.)

As a public figure, he at least has a street named after him, even though Old Fort Oliver was replaced by a [shudder!] mini-mart.

road, hot lizards, scorpions

Growing up in the '50s and '60s on the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles, some of my favorite times were when I'd visit the "Ghost Towns" at Calico or Knott's Berry Farm [now both thoroughly ruined], delving into the "Print Shops" for funky/historical-looking documents and the latest DRSB. And running around like a wild boy, of course, but that's another story...

I've collected a few issues, including all of those from the first year [1940]. It's my intention to scan these, reproduce the text as documents, and place them on this site archive - and I encourage anyone with other issues to either loan them to me for scanning and OCRing, or email me their scans. Of course, I might be persuaded to buy or trade copies too, eh?

 sunny desert

Harry Oliver archives and links

more Harry Oliver images

Here are some H.O. resources, slowly being pieced together by the nacent Harry Oliver Fan Club [HOFC] and DRSB discussion forum. Membership is by action - join the forum and send in some images, texts, sounds [yup, Harry made a record], memorabilia, links, etc. Here's what's on hand at the moment:

Southwest Humor, South West Humor, Southwest, South, West, Humor, Folk, Lore, Folklore, Lost Treasure, Lost Treasures, Lost, Treasure, Treasures, Harry Oliver, Harry, Oliver, Desert Rat, Desert, Rat, DesertRat, Scrap, Book, ScrapBook, Desert Rat Scrap Book, DesertRat ScrapBook, Peg Leg Smith, PegLeg Smith, Peg, Leg, PegLeg, Smith, Lost Dutchman Mine, Lost, Dutchman, Mine, Ghost Town, Ghost Towns, Ghost, Town, Towns, Lost Gold Mines, Gold, DRSB, HOFC, Harry Oliver, Harry, Oliver

DRSB ! Bisbee ! Elvis !!

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Ric Carter, drsb@klaxo.net, www.klaxo.net, copyright © by OTRSS