“Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people”

In an October, 1948 article, LOOK magazine proclaimed, “Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people. About one hundred Big Names have answered a call for help from the Urban League.  Many have picked up a paintbrush for the first time….”

Joan Crawford, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and many others donated their original artworks to the cause. Many, including an artistically struggling Joan Crawford who was described in LOOK as “attacking the canvas,”  allowed themselves to be documented during the harrowing creative process.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.100,101

Although we don’t have images of Lena Horne, Joe Louis, and Frank Sinatra attending the benefit show, we have pictures of the paintings they produced:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.24

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.4

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.2

This last image begs the question, “Can and did Frank Sinatra paint the saddest clown ever?”

Betsy Bloomingdale - international socialite, style icon, wife to the heir of the Bloomingdale’s fortune, and close confidante of Nancy Reagan – also donated her efforts:

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.108

Here is “boy-next-door” actor Van Johnson hard at work on a painting:


Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York. X2011.4.10653.122

The Museum of the City of New York holds hundreds of outtakes from this shoot, images that never made it to print.  Though they were famous in their time, no one on our cataloging team recognizes the celebrities below. Do you?  Help us identify these individuals in our comments section!

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999). Celebrities Paint for a Cause, 1948. Museum of the City of New York.

8 responses to ““Painting for fun is catching on furiously among celebrated people”

  1. I’m fairly certain that #7 is Margaret O’Brien: http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/margaret-obrien/

  2. Virginia Trembles

    Very much Margaret O’Brien in 7. Is that Duke Ellington in 2.? 1. and 6. are super familiar.

  3. Yes, that looks like Duke Ellington in 2.

  4. 7 is definitely Margaret O’Brien and 6 is Cornell Wilde.

  5. Unidentifed celebrites
    Those I can identify are:
    2. Duke Ellington
    3. John Derek
    6. Cornell Wilde
    7. Margaret O’Brien
    8. Ezio Pinza

  6. # 5 Michael Romanoff? Possibly with Elsa Maxwell

  7. I believe #1 is actress Ann Rutherford.

  8. I say so, too.
    2. Duke Ellington
    6. Cornell Wilde
    7. Margaret O’Brien
    8. Ezio Pinza

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s