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Company History

Mole-Richardson Company

PETER MOLE, founder of Mole-Richardson Co., was born in Sicily in 1891. At the age of six his family moved to New York where he attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parochial School until the 6th grade. His education did not continue until age 20. After he moved to Buffalo, New York, Peter enrolled at Bryan & Stratton, a 2 year Business & Engineering College where he received his degree. At Union College in Schenectady, NY, Peter Mole earned his Electrical Engineering Degree. From 1917 to 1923 he worked for General Electric Company and in 1923 moved to Los Angeles with his family. His first job was at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studio in the electrical department. Peter Mole then went to work at a rental house in Hollywood. While working for the lighting rental house in Los Angeles, Peter Mole saw that the lighting equipment and techniques early filmmakers were using were not fulfilling their potential. With the advent of Panchromatic Black & White filmstock, he saw the possibility of using the new Incandescent Lighting to replace the less efficient Carbon Arc light as a way to light movie scenes.

Joining forces with Elmer C. Richardson, a shop superintendent and teacher, and Fielding C. Coates, a chief studio electrician, Peter Mole formed Mole-Richardson to pursue this new lighting. The first Mole-Richardson lights were built in a small machine shop at the rear of a garage on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, California. It was just eight short years later that the company won an Academy Award for its creation of the first Fresnel Spotlight. This would be the first of four Academy Award Certificates.

In 1927, Peter published an article in the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) on the cost savings of the new Incandescent Illumination. In 1928, Mole-Richardson was asked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the American Society of Cinematographers to participate in their first Technical Report on Incandescent Illumination. The report published a picture of the new line of Incandescent lights from Mole-Richardson. Peter Mole, Elmer C. Richardson and other Mole-Richardson members published many technical articles on lighting and lighting equipment in the SMPE Journals. These track most of the significant developments in an industry that has constantly changed in response to new technical developments and world events. Peter Mole became President of the SMPTE from 1951 to 1952 and stirred some controversy by embracing Television as a viable compliment to Motion Picture entertainment instead of its rival.

Mole-Richardson Company - Awards
Mole-Richardson Company - Recognitions

Pictured below are just some of the many recognitions awarded to Mole-Richardson Company through the years.

  1. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Recognition of Valuable Service Awarded to Mole-Richardson Company (1928)
  2. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Recognition of Valuable Service Awarded to Peter Mole (1928)
  3. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Honorable Mention for Distinctive Achievement - Solar Spot Fixtures (1935)
  4. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Honorable Mention forTechnical Achievement - Process Projection Equipment (1940)
  5. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Honorable Mention for Technical Achievement - Type 450 Carbon Arc Lamp (1946)
  6. Society of Motion Picture Engineers Progess Medal For Acheivement in Motion Picture Technology - Peter Mole (1948)
  7. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technical Achievement Award - Molectronic 12kW D.C. Control Dimmer (1983)