Friday, August 13, 2010


 A Fallout Shelter Sign, Susan Oliver and a pensive David Jannsen, 1963

Robert W. Blakeley, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee responsible for the National Fallout Shelter Sign, had no idea in 1961 that he was giving birth to a movie star. But because the distinctive yellow and black emblem became a ubiquitous sight throughout the country in the 1960s, it is only natural that it would be captured on film either by accident or on purpose. The following are some of the more notable appearances in movies and television programs over the last half-century.

To read more about Mr. Blakeley and his contribution to Cold War iconography, check out this comprehensive history.   

Robert Redford, Three Days of the Condor, 1975

Dustin Hoffman, John and Mary, 1969

Clint Eastwood (left), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 1974

Clint Eastwood, Coogan's Bluff, 1968

Charlton Heston, The Omega Man, 1971

James Coburn (right), The Carey Treatment, 1972

James Whitmore, The Invaders TV series, 1967

 Roy Thinnes, The Invaders TV series, 1967

Susan Strasberg and two (!) Fallout Shelter Signs, The Invaders, TV series, 1967

Chris Eigeman (right), The Last Days of Disco, 1998

Nicolas Cage, Bringing Out the Dead, 1999

Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road, 2008*
Eva Mendes and Joaquin Phoenix, We Own the Night, 2007

Sandra Bullock, Toby Jones, Infamous, 2006*

Jon Hamm, Mad Men, 2007*

Kevin Costner, Will Patton, No Way Out, 1987

Kevin Costner, Thirteen Days, 2000*

Kirk Douglas, Seven Days in May, 1964

The Day After, 1983 

Kelsey Grammar, Cheers, TV series, 1985

Gene Wilder, The Producers, 1968

Mr. T, The A-Team, TV series, 1983

Theresa Russell, a Fallout Shelter Sign and Burt Reynolds, Physical Evidence, 1989

Will Smith, Hitch, 2005

Martin Milner, Kent McCord, Adam-12, TV series, 1968

Conrad Bain, Emergency Operation Centers (Civil Defense film), 1961

Brian Dennehy, First Blood (Rambo), 1982

Earthquake, 1974

Robert W. Blakeley, the Father of the Fallout Shelter Sign in 2009

Excerpt from October 12, 1961 government memo RE: the sign on file with the Judge Advocate General's Office

* Image descriptions marked with an asterisk indicate anachronistic or otherwise inaccurate depictions of the Fallout Shelter Sign. 


1. Revolutionary Road takes place in 1959, two years before the first Fallout Shelter Signs were posted.
2. Infamous takes place in 1959, two years before the first Fallout Shelter Signs were posted.
3. Mad Men: This still comes from the first season which is set in 1960 - one year before the Fallout Shelter Sign.
4. Thirteen Days: The colors of the Fallout Shelter Sign are incorrect.

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. said...

I always chuckle about the fallout shelter sign in 'Thirteen Days,' since either the set design group or the property department felt it better investment to make a sign instead of just buying an original. Production of the inaccurate one most likely cost more than obtaining an original, haha.

Joseph Ferguson said...