you can call him AL

Jesse Marinoff Reyes:

Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003)!

It seemed the native St. Louisan had always been part of the firmament of the New York illustration scene and the theatre circle—his career having lasted for such a long span and being the signature caricaturist of the New York (and especially Broadway) theatre. Nary an opening would be absent his brilliant cast illustrations of a new play, musical, or revival seen in the New York Times, the occasional theatre poster or Playbill cover, or industry magazine like Theatre Arts. From his earliest days—sharing studio space with Modern’s master caricaturist, Miguel Covarrubias—to his final days not far from the front row of a Broadway rehearsal, and everything in between (film posters for Charlie Chaplin; illustrations for articles and books by the humorist S. J. Perelman; a score of TV Guide covers; and some of the most distinctive postage stamps to ever grace a letter in the United States—and much, much more), Al Hirschfeld’s 80-plus year career was witness to and a document of American popular culture and performance art like no other.

Al Hirschfield

Ethel Merman ( above)
Viking, 2007
Illustration: Al Hirschfeld
Design: Jesse Marinoff Reyes
Art Director: Paul Buckley

---Al Hirschfield---

Kismet ( above)
Original Broadway Cast LP sleeve cover
Columbia Records, 1954
Illustration:Al Hirschfeld
Design: Alex Steinweiss (not confirmed; adapted from the poster design for the Ziegfeld Theatre)
Art Director: S. Neil Fujita (not confirmed)

This may have happened right before or just into S. Neil Fujita’s turn at running Columbia’s art department which began that same year, 1954. Alex Steinweiss was freelancing by this point, and although this LP has the burden of a laundry list of cast and production credits—a built in messiness—there are certain touches that might certainly reveal Steinweiss’s hand (or influence), including the redrawn logotype for the musical’s title and the matching typography for the name of the production’s star, Alfred Drake, in “poster style” illustrative type forms (much more sophisticated and lively than the typography done for the show’s actual poster). Not to mention Steinweiss’s own signature support type, “Steinweiss Scrawl,” used for “Original Broadway Cast” and “A Musical Arabian Night.”

---Al Hirschfield---

Playbill (for the Brooks Atkinson Theatre), February, 1984 issue
Illustration: Al Hirschfeld

---Al Hirschfield---

Complete Stories (of Dorothy Parker)
Penguin Classics, 2003
Illustration: Al Hirschfeld
Classics Art Director: Jasmine Lee
Penguin Art Director: Paul Buckley

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