’60s Illustrators: a Thanksgiving Dinner Digestif

Nov 30, 2014 | 4:29 PM

I was so insanely full after ingesting my Thanksgiving dinner, there was nothing I could do other than lie down on the sofa in my aunt and uncle’s living room and stare at their walls. Lucky for me, directly across from the sofa hung the most fabulous framed illustration.

Bernie Fuchs, Thunderbird

My uncle is a passionate vintage car collector, so I wasn’t surprised to find a Thunderbird on his walls. What did make me take pause, even in my Turkey-induced stupor, was the quality and style of the magnificent reproduction.

I flagged over my host, who informed me that the artist was none other than BERNIE FUCHS, one of the greatest American illustrators in history.

“He started out in a car factory in Detroit,” my uncle informed me, “but he went on to paint Sinatra and Kennedy and all kinds of sports figures. He was the real deal,” my uncle said, picking up an empty glass and a wadded up napkin and continuing through the room on his garbage collecting mission.

Though my stomach was still gurgling, I was able to reach across the sofa to the coffee table, where my laptop rested. I typed in “Bernie Fuchs,” and lo and behold! His work made the undigested turkey in my tummy do a can-can!

Fuchs’ “Coca Cola” ads do, indeed, epitomize ’60s chic.

Bernie Fuchs coke


Bernie FUchs, coca cola

My uncle was right about the range of Bernie’s work. Check out this TV guide cover of Sinatra, and the Mohammed Ali portrait below it.

Bernie Fuchs, sinatra

Muhammed Ali


Fuchs was the youngest illustrator ever elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, and in 1991, he was named Sport Artist of the Year by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives.


Turkey takes a long time to break down, so I settled into the sofa and typed in, “Bernie Fuchs Contemporaries” to see who came up.

There has always been a healthy rivalry between Coca Cola and Pepsi, and sure enough, Fuch’s contemporary, LYNN BUCKHAM, matched Fuch’s Coca Cola ads image for image.

Lynn B Pepsi cola


Lynn Buckham


Another contemporary, ARTHUR SARNOFF caught my eye, too, as did COBY WHITMORE.

Arthur Sarnoff
Arthur Sarnoff
Coby Whitmore 1
Coby Whitmore

Once I started looking at illustrated ads from the ’60s, truth be told, I only stopped because I fell asleep! I blame my fatigue on the tryptophan, of course, and not on the wonderfully evocative illustrations.

Like kidd gloves and rotary phones, some things just weren’t meant to stand the test of time. Illustrators were replaced by computer generated graphics and by photographs that captured lifestyle with greater authenticity than an illustration could. Nevertheless, the work that came out of the earlier eras of our history are, and always will be, worth saving, savoring and studying.


Each ad created by each of the men mentioned above could have their own blog posts. For now, I’ll leave you with this brief introduction and see who else shares my passion.


In the meantime, hope you are all safe, healthy, happy and ready to return to regular eating!!





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