Collage Created by Ed Supovitz
Leopold Godowsky, Jr.

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame


Leopold Godowsky, Jr.:
Inducted into the National
Inventors Hall of Fame-205

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Leopold Godowsky, Jr. was an American Jew who was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, in 2005, for his discovery of color photography, jointly with Leopold Mannes . Their United States Patents were 1,007, 493, “Color Photography,” which was issued in April 1935 and the other was 2,304,940, "Color Photography" which was issued in December 1942.

He was born on May 27, 1900. His father was Leopold Godowsky, one of the great pianists and composers of the early 1900s. The strong family connections to the arts continued when he married Frances Gershwin, sister of George and Ira Gershwin. His wife was talented in her own right as a singer and later, as a painter and sculptor.

Godowsky went to UCLA, where he studied the violin, physics and chemistry. He became a solist and first violin with the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Orchestras. Many times, he performed jointly with his father in concerts.

Godowsky decided to return to New York where he worked with Mannes as musicians and they experimented with color photography. In 1922, Mannes made the acquaintance of a senior partner in the investment firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Co. and informed him about their experiments and progress in color photography. A short time later, Lewis I. Strauss, a junior associate, visited their apartment and was impressed with what he saw. Kuhn Loeb decided to invest in their work.

With the financial backing, they built a dedicated laboratory. They took out patents for their work. It was in 1930, Eastman Kodak was impressed with their results that they signed to a contract. They had them move to Rochester so that could use the facilities of their research department.

Godowsky, Mannes and the research staff had developed a marketable three-color emulsion process for color home movies in 1933. The film, known as Kodachrome, was released for sale in 1935 and in 1936 it was released as 35 mm still and 16 mm movies. Kodachrome film was easy to use and it had exceptional quality, attracted the amateurs and professionals interested in still and movie photography.

Leopold Godowsky died on February 18, 1983.


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