Faking things in films, has always been a big business; from emotions, locations, houses, streets and the weather. When films were all shot indoors in Hollywood studios, snow was a particularly important one to fake. Until the 1920’s snow in American films was faked by using cotton batting.
When Hollywood shot all their films indoors in large indoor studios, snow was a particularly important (and difficult) thing to fake. In the 1920’s snow in American films was faked using cotton batting.
In the 1920’s snow in American films was faked using cotton batting.
In 1928, a genius firefighter, who remains nameless online noticed that the cotton batting would be a fire hazard on the closed, tightly packed stages and sets.
What he proposed as a far safer alternative was Asbestos! None other that the friendliest product in history – Industrial Grade Chrysotile otherwise known as white asbestos.
The firefighter was right about one thing, asbestos is fire proof. But as for safety! Well, dropping it all over actresses as they slept fields of poppies was quite another thing.
At the time, it was also very inexpensive and used in department store displays. Asbestos was sold as ‘Pure White and ‘Snow Drift’ for use in homes for holiday decorations.
The use of asbestos on set was not stopped due to the discovery of how toxic it was or the incredibly harmful health problems it caused, but because it was needed elsewhere.
During World War II asbestos was needed for military applications. Asbestos was needed for the manufacture of ships, planes and many other military applications. It was in short supply and could not be spared for film sets.