Following his education at the the College of Jounalism (Belfast), École des Beaux Arts (Paris) and The Ontario College of Art in Toronto, Brian then moved to Hollywood where he quickly rose from set artwork to movie production. Under the expert guidance of John Ford, sometimes claimed to have been Brian's cousin, he learnt the new skills of set management. Brian even made one screen appearance as an extra in Ford's Hangman's House (1928) where he briefly appears alongside a college footballer gaining his first break - John Wayne.


See Filmography section, under Hangman's House for more information.

Brian's skills, however, were behind the camera where his artist training allowed him to capture faces and expressions with a unique flair. These skills were honed under Ford who remained a lifelong friend.


Scott Eyman writes in the Print the Legend, The Life and Times of John Ford about the lifelong friendship that existed between the two men.  Brian “arrived in Hollywood in 1928 for a visit.  While there, he got work doing murals in the libraries and living rooms of various monied members of Los Angles society.  For his own enjoyment, Desmond Hurst had painted a religious image on a screen, which was displayed in a bookstore window.  Ford saw it, and invited Desmond Hurst to his house.  It was the beginning of a friendship that would last till Ford’s death, for Hurst was a witty man who could always make Ford laugh.  Ford regularly introduced Desmond Hurst to people as his “cousin” which, naturally enough, led many to believe they were related, and was so fond of him that he used him in walk-ons, then got him a job at the studio, where he became an assistant art director”.


Cover to John Ford's Biography
Harry is thought to be the model for for the Brideshead Revisited Character, Sebastian Flyte.  Brian's beloved older sister, Patricia Hurst, went on to work for Harry Clifton and it was Harry that helped finance Brian's early movie production The Tell Tale Heart.  After telling Harry that the movie would cost about three thousand pounds Harry wrote out a 'cheque' for three thousand pounds on an opened 'Gold Flake' cigarette package. 

  Copyright © The Brian Desmond Hurst Estate  
  The above left photo from Tell-Tale Heart (1934) features one of Brian’s paintings very much in the style of his earlier St. Brigid of Irlend painting as seen below, which was painted in 1928 when Brian was living in Hollywood along with several other paintings that earned him the praise of John Ford.  
  St. Bridgid of Ireland by Brian Desmond Hurst (1928)  
  Copyright © Allan Smith  
  St. Brigid of Ireland, painted by Brian in 1928 and can later be seen on the wall at his home in Wardrobe Lodge in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire.  
Brian was bi-sexual and his mentor Ford used to keep an eye on Brian during his early days in Hollywood.  Brian explains about one of his early contacts with Hollywood movie maker George Cukor who was replaced as the director of Gone with the Wind(1939) but went on to make The Philadelphia Story (1940), A Star is Born (1954) and My Fair Lady (1964).
  Brian, Mary Ford and John Ford in Honolulu, Hawaii documented in the Honolulu Advertiser - Courtesy of The Allan Smith Collection Brian is photographed in the Los Angeles Evening Herald - Courtesy of The Allan Smith Collection  
  Poster for John Ford's The Informer (1935)  
  Poster for John Ford's The Informer (1935)  
  John Ford and Brian on the set of Dangerous Exile (1957) Photo courtesy of the BFI  
  BDH and George Cukor  
  Brain and 'house-proud' George Cukor at George's house in Los Angles - Copyright © Allan Warren  
Brian's unpublished autobiography is dedicated as follows