Coldwater, Kansas — 1886-1973
Researcher and Dental Innovator – Educator
Dr. George M. Hollenback was born on a small homestead farm in Coldwater, Kansas on September 27, 1886. He was not born to a wealthy family, and did not receive prominence as a result of his early environment, but rather in spite of it. His mother, a highly educated woman, taught his early education. She taught him to read, write and the rudiments of mathematics before he entered school at the age of seven. His entire formal education consisted of 42 months. He attended a school 4 miles from his home and to attend he had to walk in all kinds of weather. At the age of nine, upon completion of his early education, he began working on the family farm.
At the age of seventeen he walked 5 miles to see a physician about a toothache. He was given some pain reliever and told he should see the itinerant dentist when he came to town. This experience planted the seed for him to consider dentistry as a career. Unfortunately, he did not have a high school diploma, but he was able to pass the entrance requirements examination for Kansas City Dental College, now the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he entered in 1905. By 1907 he was licensed in Kansas, but moved to Montana in 1909 because he had contracted tuberculosis. He resided in Montana for ten years before moving to Los Angeles in 1919 and maintained a private practice until 1955.
In Los Angeles he had an elite clientele, including many Hollywood personalities, such as Katherine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Olivia de Haviland, William Powell and Richard Dix. Many of these celebrities, especially Katherine Hepburn and Olivia de Haviland developed close personal friendships with Dr. Hollenback that continued until his death.
During his dental career he also became a close personal friend with Howard Hughes. Mr. Hughes was so impressed with Dr. Hollenba.ck’s work that he, offered engineers at the Hughes Aircraft Company to be accessible for consultation and assistance. In 1957, Mr. Hughes provided financial support to assist Dr. Hollenback in establishing the George M. Hollenback Research Association of Encino, California. From this well equipped testing laboratory Dr. Hollenback developed instruments, tested materials, and published articles which have been an invaluable asset to the dental profession. Practitioners and educators alike related well to his work and his laboratory was always open to those who shared his interest and enthusiasm in high ideals of quality dental services.
Upon the opening of the Research Laboratory, all of Dr. Hollenback’s knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm now had unlimited possibility. He was successful in recruiting a group of assistants who shared his enthusiasm. He published over 110 scientific and re- search articles, and was in constant demand by dental societies, study clubs and dental schools throughout the world. Almost every dental student has been introduced to an instrument or a dental material that was developed by Dr. Hollenback.
?In the 1930’s he standardized the criteria for manipulating amalgam and influenced dental manufacturers to improve their products. In his master’s thesis for Northwestem University in 1945, he resolved the coefficient of gold and gold alloy shrinkage. The U.S. Bureau of Standards and other worldwide agencies accepted his work. He developed the technique of vacuum mixing of dental stones and investments, proved the principle of hydroscopic expansion of investments and the standard of instrumentation/carving of waxes, gold foil and amalgams. He invented the “Harvey Sterilizer” and the pneumatic mallet for gold foil condensation.
Dr. Hollenback served as Chairman of Fixed Prosthetics at the University of Southem Califomia from 1920 to 1923 and Professor of Dental Materials in 1949. He was Visiting Professor at the University of the Pacific and head of dental materials in 1962. Dr. Hollenback was an Associate Professor at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry from 1957 to 1960 and then served as Professor of Restorative Dentistry from 1960 to 1966. In 1959 he was Assistant Professor of Operative Dentistry at Loyola University College of Dental Surgery in Chicago and later became and Associate Professor in 1962.
Dr. Hollenback was highly honored by the profession. In 1963 he was presented the Wilmer Souder Award by the Dental Materials Group of the International Association for Dental Research. In 1964 he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of the Pacific. He was awarded Fellowships in OKU (1926), ACD (1930), ICD (1967) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1954). In 1931 he was Dentist of the Year for the University of Kansas and Alumnus of the Year in 1963 for the University of Missouri. The Academy of Operative Dentistry, in 1975, established the Hollenback Memorial Prize in his honor. In 1962 Dr. Hollenback was awarded the Pierre Fauchard Academy Gold Medal.
Dr. Hollenback possessed many attributes beyond his fame as a dentist and researcher. He was also successful financially and was an outstanding philanthropist. In 1967, at the age of 81, he donated his entire dental research laboratory consisting of over 71 Hollenback- developed measuring devices to the University of the Pacific, where it is today. Monetary contributions totaling in excess of $400,000 were given to the University of the Pacific. He also bought and donated the 1400 skull collection of Dr. Spencer Atkinson ($45,000) and an entire library of applied anatomy texts to the University of the Pacific.
If ever a person exemplified the term “self-made man”, Dr. George M. Hollenback was certainly such a man. He lived a long, productive life and died in 1973 at the age of 87. He was internationally known as scholar, author, clinician, teacher and inventor. He was an extraordinary man, gifted researcher and philanthropist, who deserves to be honored as a member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy International Hall of Fame of Dentistry.