Henry B. Goode (pronounced “Goody”), one of 12 children (two died early), was born August 20, 1882 in Gödölló (Hungarian pronunciation: gødøl:ø), a small region in Pest County situated about 20 miles northeast from the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary. Art surfaced early for Goode, and at age 4-1/2 his interests turned to sketching boats sailing the blue Danube. Later, he received his art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and also studied in Paris and in New York.
By the time he was 6, he spoke four languages: Czech and German at dinnertime, Hungarian in school and French to the housekeeper. As he transitioned into a cosmopolitan man, he studied the origins of language as well as biology, archeology and self-expression. He kept physically fit with calisthenics and mentally fit through his philosophy of an uncomplicated life.
In his early professional career, Goode was also prominent in the field of dress design (his immediate family lived on a farm in Ohio, and Goode and his wife Julia would travel to New York to do designing).
Goode was also a cellist, had worked with Victor Herbert in New York, and played for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, Goode’s passion for art and music would fuse together in his pen and ink drawings of great composers, including written interpretation of the composer in each drawing.
After settling in Los Angeles from New York in 1922, Goode played cello in the orchestra at Fox Film Corporation (which merged and became 20th Century Fox in 1935); he worked for and was friends with Tom Mix during the silent movie era and played mood music (cello) for Mr. Mix’s silent screen films. Goode sketched pen and inks of the up-and-coming along with the well-known movie stars of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, such as the
Barrymore’s, Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Edward G. Robinson and scores of others; many of these sketches were displayed in local print media (see “Newspaper Clippings” under “Galleries” in the near future).
Goode, although best known for his paintings of California landscapes and desert scenes, was also known for his portraits and sculptures. His talent and diverse use of media exemplified a versatile, prolific, experimental and eager expression in art.
Having been a professor of art at Los Angeles Pacific College in the 1940s, he was motivated by a pure and honest desire to give of himself; one desire was in teaching and encouraging those advanced students, who seriously wanted to learn and make a career of art – particularly in the field of portraits – to pursue their dreams.
President FDR kept a small statuette on his desk created by Goode called “Faith, Hope and Charity,” which depicted three W. P. A. workers leaning on one shovel. The President responded and sent Goode a wire which read “If they haven’t got enough shovels, let them lean on each other.” (As of this writing, I have not located the whereabouts of the statuette.)
Goode’s name also surfaced in 1941 when 35 paintings of a religious and political nature were vandalized at a gallery in Long Beach, California (read more details in the “Historical & Political” section under “Galleries”).
In the 1940s, Goode was commissioned to paint five religious murals at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California. The murals are archived at the church and available for viewing weekly.
His pen and inks of the stars of the 1920s, 30s and 40s were published multiple times in print media (these images will be presented in “1930s Newspaper Clippings . . .” under “Galleries” in the near future). Some can now be viewed in the “Classic American Silent Screen Stars . . .” under “Galleries.”
Goode was not only published in countless articles for Los Angeles newspapers, but also illustrated for the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles Philharmonic souvenir programs and many others. Monetary consideration didn’t seem to be important to Goode. He lived sparingly, and the central point of his life was his art.
Goode married Julia Bogen on July 16, 1911 in the state of New York. Three children were born to Julia and Henry: Leah, the eldest, Robert “Bob” my father and Maximilian “Bud” the youngest (that’s Bud sitting on Goode’s lap in front of the mural of the wild horses). At some point, my grandmother and grandfather separated and remained separated for as long as I can remember; neither ever remarried.
Eventually, Goode would become grandfather of three, great grandfather of four and great great grandfather of many.
I recall my grandfather’s apartment (somewhere in the 1950s) adorned with portraits and sketches either hung or painted on the walls; his kitchen walls displayed Vernon pottery plates bearing glazed Goode sketches of such musical greats as Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and others – – – I also remember the mural of a Paris scene which he hand painted on the dining room wall; and sitting atop his piano was a human skeletal head and a stuffed monkey (my sister Judith was told that the monkey was known to be in a movie or two (King Kong? Mighty Joe Young?); the monkey is currently in the possession of Judith).
Goode’s sense of humor and joie de vivre were apparent when he played the wooden flute from his nose or when displayed in the antics and joy evident in photos with friends in front of the Belasco Theatre next to his art studio of 20 years.
When Goode was 68, he gave up his art studio in downtown Los Angeles where hundreds of notables had been painted. Goode apparently painted several high government officials in Washington, D.C. His desire was to present a one-man show in D.C. and then take up freelance painting while traveling the world. I know not if his dream had ever been realized.
Goode was in control of his life, made his own decisions and lived freely, uncomplicated by deadlines, frustrations, “physical ailments” and tensions. He welcomed “. . . old age because . . . he thought it a pleasure to be somewhere . . he hasn’t been, like ‘tomorrow.’ Tomorrow he would have the chance to do something that he didn’t do today.”
He never stopped creating and he drew and painted until his death in Los Angeles, California on February 18, 1966. Goode’s heart gave out, however, the soft curves of the ballerinas at rest, the archived church murals and the artist’s depiction of Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Orthodox Jews at prayer and . . . . . . . . . all live on.