The Pin-up Files

Gil Elvgren pin-up artist | gallery 5/9


Many of his models were famous or went on to become so after posing for him

Myrna Loy, Arlene Dahl, Donna Reed, Barbara Hale, and Kim Novak were just a few of Gil's models. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was a great career boost for an aspiring actress or starlet to have her likeness reproduced and published on a million Elvgren calendars.

Gil Elvgren pinup artist

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In 1956, Elvgren finally convinced his family to make the big move down to Florida. This idea had been on his mind for almost four years, and the time seemed just right for a change of lifestyle and environment. Elvgren had many friends waiting for him in Florida. Joyce Ballantyne had been there for some time, as had such old friends as Arthur Sarnoff, Bill Doyle, and Elmore Brown. Especially gratifying to Gil was that two of his and Janet's closest friends, Al Buell and Thornton Utz, lived there with their families. So, from the day of their arrival, they were in a sense actually more at home than they had been up North. In addition, the Illinois weather had not been conducive, for much of the year, for visiting and socializing, while in Florida just the opposite was true. Elvgren soon found that he liked everything about living in his new adopted state.

Once he was settled in Florida, Elvgren painted a great many portraits, but not for the reason that most semi-retired illustrators had done them earlier. With no aspirations to "fine" art, Elvgren simply enjoyed the people he met in his new community in Siesta Key. In fact, it became a weekly train ride for many Hollywood starlets between Los Angeles and St. Paul (home of Brown & Bigelow and birthplace of Gil Elvgren) just to present themselves for consideration as models for Elvgren or one of the other big names.

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