Van Nest Polglase (August 25, 1898 – December 20, 1968) was an American art director. He was nominated for six Academy Awards in the category Best Art Direction. Best remembered as head of the design department at RKO Pictures, he worked on 333 films between 1925 and 1957.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York and died in Los Angeles, California. His death notice noted that he was "survived by his son Dr. Van Nest Polglase and 2 grandchildren", his wife, Helen, having predeceased him six months earlier.
Education and early career
Polglase studied Beaux Arts architecture and interior design in New York City where he entered practice with the architectural firm of Berg and Orchard, before moving to Havana in 1917 where he was an associate designer on the Presidential Palace. On his return to New York in 1919, he signed with Famous Players—Lasky (Paramount) whose art director Wiard Ihnen had recommended him as a draftsman, but Polglase turned his hand to design and soon relocated to Hollywood where he designed one of the first American Art Déco sets for The Magnificent Flirt (1928) and worked for MGM until 1932 when Polglase was recruited to RKO by David O. Selznick.
Polglase was nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Art Direction:
- The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- Top Hat (1935)
- Carefree (1938)
- Love Affair (1939)
- My Favorite Wife (1940)
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- "NY Times: Van Nest Polglase biography". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-07.