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Johnny Mercer Statue

Posted by
Steven (Chicagoland, United States) on 6 January 2020 in Art & Design and Portfolio.

One hundred years after the day he was born, one of Savannah's favorite native sons, Johnny Mercer, was honored with a life-size bronze statue that was unveiled near the northwestern corner of Ellis Square. Besides being a long overdue tribute to the legendary songwriter, the sculpture marked the end of a project almost a year in the making for local sculptor Susie Chisholm.

Chisholm started with a 70-year-old photo of Mercer leaning against a fire hydrant in New York and reading a paper. She painstakingly transformed it into a three dimensional statue that would be cast into a mold, transported to a foundry in Utah, and then filled with 2000-degree molten bronze before being welded back together and dropped off at its home near the Ellis Square visitors kiosk.

To accurately recreate the image from the selected photo, film producer and Mercer family friend Stratton Leopold sent a copy out to costume designers at Paramount Studios, where period specific items were made to match the clothes from the image, explains Chisholm.

Then, Steve Gerard, husband of Mercer's niece Nancy, modeled the items while being photographed from all sides and measured by Chisholm and her brother Daniel. Not only did she have to measure everything from the length between buttons, but Chisholm also managed to track down an authentic, historically accurate New York City fire hydrant, which she was able to use during the modeling process, and which still sits in her studio.

Despite such extensive efforts, there was one change made while translating the image from two dimensions to three - rather than looking down to read the paper, Mercer is now looking up to greet passersby with a smile.

While there's very little risk of Mercer's likeness walking away, the bronze statue will need some regular maintenance, including reapplying the protective patina that keeps the statue from getting spots or turning the surreal shade of green seen on many historical bronze sculptures that have been exposed to the elements.

He is best known as a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as songs written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time, including "Moon River", "Days of Wine and Roses", "Autumn Leaves", and "Hooray for Hollywood". He wrote the lyrics to more than 1,500 songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Oscar nominations, and won four Best Original Song Oscars.

Photo captured October 6, 2019.

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Spotlight Images

Ginnie Hart from Netherlands

It's a fabulous depiction, Steven, especially from the side view. Thanks for showing both angles.

6 Jan 2020 6:18am

Claudine/canelle from Lorient, France

J'adore ces sculptures ..elles sont toujours très realistes !

6 Jan 2020 7:31am

Ronnie 2¢ from Atlantic Shores, United Kingdom

So realistic . . a credit for sure !

6 Jan 2020 7:53am

By Marie from Entre By Marie et Montagnes, France

Very interesting note and sculpture. Lovely smile....

6 Jan 2020 8:03am

Pascale MD from Occitanie, France

Superbe sculpture, elle est vraiment superbe et très réaliste.
Bonne journée Steven

6 Jan 2020 8:10am

yoshimiparis from France

thank you for sharing these explanations
Beautiful sculpture

6 Jan 2020 8:13am

Ralf Kesper from Fröndenberg, Germany

A beautiful sculpture. A smilemaker!

6 Jan 2020 8:49am

Shaun from Massachusetts, United States

Excellent image Steven with interesting information about Johnny Mercer.

6 Jan 2020 9:23am

Existence Artistique from Angers, France


6 Jan 2020 9:25am

Hiro from Kyoto, Japan

nice face expression.

6 Jan 2020 9:27am

Dimitrios from ATHENS, Greece

super cool at any angle!

6 Jan 2020 11:07am

grouser from Ludlow, United Kingdom

a nice result from all the painstaking research by Susie and you :)

6 Jan 2020 11:19am

Marjolein from Westvoorne, Netherlands

Very well statue, fine to read the history.

6 Jan 2020 12:11pm

willy from Belgium

de bien jolies photos de cette belle statue Steven

merci pour ce joli partage et tes explications intéressantes


6 Jan 2020 1:41pm

Jypyä Pop from Turku, Finland

Great statue. Intersting history.

6 Jan 2020 2:51pm

Devi from Chennai, India

Wow...absolutely real looking !! Thank you for the narration..yes, he cannot just walk away..just as you have said ! Fabulous piece of sculpture !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6 Jan 2020 2:58pm

Nicou from Sion, Switzerland

Très bien vu sous deux angle cette homme souriant superbe
Belle soirée

6 Jan 2020 3:31pm

B. Thomas from Arlington, Texas, United States

Very nice statue. Several years ago I visited his gravesite in Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery.

6 Jan 2020 3:47pm

Ruthiebear from Titusville, NJ, United States

I like the relaxed pose. I appreciate seeing it from both angles.

6 Jan 2020 4:09pm

Rose from United States

She sure did a great job on this. It looks so real...from all angles.

6 Jan 2020 4:15pm

Remus from Portugal

What if firefighters need access to the fire hydrant?
Johnny Mercer leaves where he is, and goes to sit in one of the chairs?
Jokes aside, is a beautiful tribute.

6 Jan 2020 5:13pm

yo from Ile de France, France

Superbe statue au visage très expressif !

6 Jan 2020 8:34pm

Dreams come true from Utrecht, Netherlands

An impressive story of an interesting image.
It took a lot of work and hours.
Beautifully displayed on your photos

6 Jan 2020 8:50pm

sherri from Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

i don't think i've ever seen a happy statue

7 Jan 2020 12:48am

Harry from Apex, NC, United States

nice statue and story. I am impressed the the casting process can create such thin and barely connected parts like the newspaper. knowing southerners, I am surprised that they allowed a NYC fireplug was allowed in the city.

7 Jan 2020 1:33am

Elizabeth Buckalew from FLAGSTAFF, United States

Oh dear! Somehow we missed this when we were there - what a terrific statue, and story! Thanks for providing two angles to give us a more full view!

7 Jan 2020 1:35am

Elaine Hancock from Olney, United States

A beautiful statue. I really liked learning how this statue was created. He wrote some really popular songs.

7 Jan 2020 2:02am

Martine Girard from Brest, France

Magnifique statue souriante, j'adore !

7 Jan 2020 2:08am

The Yum List from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

They're really captured a happy character here.

13 Jan 2020 7:49am