The Pin-up Files

Earl MacPherson pin-up artist


By 1939 Earl MacPherson was an aspiring pin-up artist with a studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood

One night, his phone rang with an invitation from Charlie Ward, the president of Brown & Bigelow, to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Impressed with the artist's work, Ward invited him to visit the firm's St. Paul headquarters. After some time spent "hanging around", observing and leaning, MacPherson officially joined the staff in 1942.

Earl Macpherson pin-up artist

MacPherson married his first model at Brown & Bigelow, then went on to create a unique pin-up calendar that would become a standard in the industry. First published in 1943, his Artist's Sketch Pad became a million-dollar seller. Each page of the twelve-page calendar bound at the top with a spiral binder, featured a primary pin-up figure surrounded by pencil sketches showing the same model in various poses relating to the central image.

Before going to Brown & Bigelow, MacPherson had painted a very famous pin-up image for the Shaw-Barton Calendar Company. The best-selling image in the company's 1941 line, Going Places was so popular that Lucky Strike cigarettes asked to reproduce it on their 1942 calendar with the caption "Lucky Strike Green Goes to War".

Edgar Earl MacPherson was born on August 3, 1910, in Oklahoma. He moved to Los Angeles after high school, got a job painting movie posters for a downtown theatre, and took evening art classes at the Chouinard School of Art. In 1929, he set up shop at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, painting portraits of wealthy guests. McPherson's smashing success with the Artist's Sketch Pad was followed by another triumph: his two deck set of playing cards for Brown & Bigelow, called Win, Lose, or Draw, received a total of 168,000 orders in four months. His diary-style calendar, Something to Remember, was his last success before he went off to war in 1944.

Discharged in 1946, after teaching plane decoy recognition to Navy pilots, he settled on a four-acre ranch in Del Mar, California. He also hooked up once again with Shaw-Barton and began the first of nine consecutive years of MacPherson Sketch Book calendars for them. In 1954, Shaw-Barton published a book called Hunting With MacPherson, a parody with pin-up girls dressed as various hunting birds; the same year, the artist. wrote and designed a best-selling how-to book entitled Pin-Up Art for the Waiter Faster Company.

In 1951, MacPherson was stricken with polio, and his assistant, Jerry Thompson, took over the Sketch Book calendar series under the name T. N. Thompson. In the early 1950s, MacPherson had his own television show in Arizona; about 1960, he moved to Tahiti and then travelled widely in the South Pacific. He died in December 1993.

Earl MacPherson biography borrowed from The Great American Pin-Up by Charles G Martignette & Louis K Meisel.

All Pin-up Files gallery images are subject to copyright and must not be considered to be in the public domain. All copyright information is shown where known.