Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ed Vebell to America: You’re sexier than you think!

vebell 1954 sexier

Ed Vebell illustration to “You’re Sexier Than You Think!”, Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 7, 1954.

Between the late 1940s and the early 1950s, mass-circulation magazines often used premiere illustrators to provide art for feature stories. Ed Vebell was one of the best, and we frequently come across his work in our Sunday Mirror Magazine archives, including many original artboards.

The above illustration was for an article titled “You’re Sexier Than You Think!” and it appeared in the March 7, 1954 issue of the magazine. The long article that accompanies it is about famed psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis and his views about pop-cultural images of beauty.

The cutline just below the illustration: “The standards of beauty and perfection personified by movie queens are ‘phony and illusory,’ a noted psychologist contends, and assures the average woman she’s more attractive than she thinks.”

I think the picture says it all.

 * * *




About Ed Vebell:

Vebell grew up in Chicago, the son of Lithuanian  immigrants. He began attending art school at age 14. He launched his career with a busy Chicago ad agency.

Vebell was a combat artist during WWII, doing illustrations, cartooning and photography for Stars and Stripes. In 1945 he participated in the Nurenburg War Crimes Trials as a courtroom artist.

After the war, Vebell settled in Connecticut and became a leading freelance illustrator, creating paintings and drawings for Readers Digest, Time and Sports Illustrated.

Vebell is also a distinguished fencer and participated in the 1952 Olympics.

Now 93, Vebell has amassed the largest collection of military uniforms and military memorabilia in the U.S.

Here are some other samples of his work from our archives:


vebell summertime phonies smm 062754




ed vebell hollywood 122753




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Filed under From the archives, Hollywood

Lobby Cards: Dealing A Pack of Great Escapes


David Cohea

During the mid- to late-years of the ’60s—while older neighbor kids on our block were getting drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, and demonstrators were marching at Northwestern University and hippies were smoking pot on the steps of the Art Institute and free-love enthusiasts were making big bucks in the original Playboy Mansion across State Stret, while racial tensions grew on the west side of Chicago and shadows lengthened inside my own home—while all that was going on any given Saturday, I was at the matinee at the Varsity Theater in Evanston.

All of that fermenting, fomenting chaos outside the plush red lobby of the Valencia was like rumbles of summer thunderstorms, buffered, as they had always been since the 1920’s, by the gilt interior of a movie palace built for great escapes.

As much as I might have been enthralled with that afternoon’s double-bill—a cornocopeia of cornball  Disney comedies, Hammer horror and main bill second-runs— what lay ahead was always more engaging to me than whatever was up on the big screen that day. Loading up on Chicklits and soda at the massive concession stand in the Valencia lobby, my eye always strayed to the lobby cards announcing coming attractions, imagining how much better those films would surely be.

Smaller than the 22”x28” main poster sheet,—usually they were 11”x14”—lobby cards came in sets of 8 (sometimes up to 16 for the biggest-budget productions) and offered the glimpses of the best scenes . (Some might have said that was false advertising for a less-than-average movie, but who was I to quibble? I was a dumb kid.)



Lobby cards promoting upcoming movies in the lobby of the Allenby Cinema in Toronto, 1936


The cards were printed in brilliant (usually lurid) colors on the brightest-white stock. Artwork bordering the images were hand-tinted using emerging print processes like photogelatin and heliotype.

Big studio weight was behind the production of these lobby cards, with execs and stars involved in their production throughout. And some great illustrators were brought in for the job—Norman Rockwell and Dan Sayre Groesbeck, George Petty and Vargas, Frank Frazetta and Peter Max.

But as movie theaters began fading from the cultural landscape, the great art of lobby cards came to an end in 1985 when the National Screen Service ceased printing most posters and lobby cards. Inventory that had been stored in its warehouses got into the hands of individual collectors, and film posters and cards became quite collectible. (The highest price for a single poster if $690,000 for a copy of Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis.)

If you’re a sucker for these things as I am, there are also some great online resources. Turner Classic Movies has a great lobby card collection, and I found a Tumblr site that collects them too. Many of the ones appearing on this post are from those sources.

Now we can only imagine backward, and try to sense the wonder of some sugar-jacked theater-goer sipping on a Coke and reading lobby cards while waiting for the second feature to begin …

















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Filed under Hollywood, Movieland, Vintage Illustration