Bill Peckmann &Books &Comic Art &Illustration 03 May 2013 05:51 am

Sardi’s Caricatures

Lately I have been seeing a lot of theater, from the British musical, Matilda, to my wife, Heidi‘s sweet and loving adaptation of Sondheim‘s Into the Woods. From Odet‘s dark and difficult The Big Knife to so many numerous others, recently. There have been great highs and mediocre lows, both sets of shows get my excitement level high and challenges me to think key thoughts on direction, acting, music, sets and costumes.

How interesting for Bill Peckmann to send me some caricatures off the walls of Sardi’s restaurant where I’d eaten just a few nights back, and Bill reminds me strongly of the evening. This just after hearing, last night, Baz Luhrman and wife, Catherine Martin, talk about their very theatrical film, The Great Gatsby. It made for a rich and notable program. Film and theater and animation are all so intricately entwined and wonderfully connected. We need to admit it and salute these connections more often.

How wonderful for me and how grateful I am to Bill Peckmann for sharing images from the walls of Sardi’s restaurant in New York. The celebrated celebrity caricatures directly off the walls of that restaurant are all wonderful. So easy to identify the images, so beautifully defined his style which doesn’t define the drawings but blesses them gently. All of these drawings in this book are by cartoonist/illustrator, Don Bevan. I didn’t need to refer to the book to identify the celebrity for the caricature in the blog. I’d say that’s a sign of a good caricaturist.

Sardis1
The book’s cover

Sardis2
The inner flyleaf

Sardis3 1
Sammy Davis Jr.

Sardis4 2
Lucille Ball

Sardis5 3
George Burns

Sardis6 4
Carol Channing

Sardis7 5
Johnny Carson

Sardis8 6
Lauren Bacall

Sardis9 7
Zero Mostel

Sardis10 8
Paul Winchell

Sardis11 9
Sidney Poitier

Sardis12 10
Carol Burnett

Sardis13 11
Yul Brenner

Sardis14 12
Angela Lansbury

Sardis15 13
Mitch Miller

Sardis16 14
Maurice Chevalier

Sardis17 15
Jack Paar

Sardis18 16
Jackie Gleason

Sardis19 17
Audrey Meadows

Sardis20 18
Art Carney

Sardis21 19
David Frost

Sardis22 20
Lee Remick

Sardis23 21
Joel Grey

Sardis24 22
Robert Preston

Sardis25 23
Glynis Johns

Sardis26 24
Dana Andrews

Sardis27 25
Anthony Quayle

Sardis28 26
Robert Ryan

Sardis29 27
Wilfred Hyde-White

Sardis30 28
Ernie Kovaks

8 Responses to “Sardi’s Caricatures”

  1. on 03 May 2013 at 7:03 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    I have no idea what Ernie Pintoff looks like, but that last caricature looks a lot like Ernie Kovacs.

  2. on 03 May 2013 at 8:17 am 2.Michael said …

    Right you were. I obviously had Pintoff on my mind for some reason. Now that I think about it, they don’t look too different. Pintoff doesn’t look as smart but has the same moustche, cigar and hair color. Although Pintoff combs it forward (for some reason I can’t guess.)

    I’ve corrected the ID. Thanks Mark.

  3. on 03 May 2013 at 8:49 am 3.Bruce Canwell said …

    Bill Peckmann is a mensch! And by the way (says this _huge_ Ernie fan), it’s “Kovacs”, not “Kovaks” …

  4. on 03 May 2013 at 2:11 pm 4.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    The picture of Art Carney looks a little like it was drawn by R. Taylor, the 50s New Yorker cartoonist. It’s probably a Bevan, but I can’t help wondering if Bevan and Taylor were friends and Taylor helped out when Bevan had a deadline to meet.

    On another subject, Heidi writes for the theater? If you wrote about that before I must have missed it.

    For me theater writing is the hardest and best kind of writing there is. It’s writing without a safety net. There’s usually no effects or cutaways to save a scene if it’s in trouble. The actor’s out there in front of a live (and potentially vegetable throwing) audience with only the writer’s words to back him up. Somehow the writer has to create a magical illusion to distract the audience from the truth that they’re in an underheated room being addressed by a flawed human like themselves. Yikes! It takes talent to do that!

  5. on 03 May 2013 at 3:11 pm 5.the Gee said …

    The actor’s out there in front of a live (and potentially vegetable throwing) audience….

    Yowza! Yet one more reason to never set foot on a stage!

    I’ve seen some of these before, years ago. And, I certainly have known about them forever.

    The type of approach that Bevan uses seems to share characteristics with Hirschfeld’s approach. And, I want to say there is another person who primarily did caricatures of theater actors who also shared some of those approaches. What I’m seeing out of these images that best represents what I”m getting at is the ones of Sammy Davis, Jr, Zero Mostel and George Burns.

    (and, just lookit the brows on the one of Carson and that left eye on Remnick! odd choices but doesn’t make the caricatures any worse for wear.)

    I gotta admit, just the chins and the jawlines alone are great to see. The simplicity of the facial designs with the flourishes of the textures chosen–most likely finishing touches, like Mostel’s hair.

    Forgive my inability to form complete sentences. Awesome stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  6. on 03 May 2013 at 4:42 pm 6.Tom Minton said …

    I also own this book and not all of the caricatures therein are by Don Bevan, though Bevan’s comprise most of its contents. (The Yul Brynner drawing that you posted above was done by Richard Baratz.) There’s an interesting story in that book explaining the working arrangement of the initial Sardi’s caricaturist, who drew his celebrity caricatures in exchange for free meals from the restaurant.

  7. on 01 Jul 2013 at 10:14 am 7.D.D.Degg said …

    Less than a month after you posted this, Mr. Bevan passed away.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/arts/donald-bevan-93-sardis-artist-and-stalag-17-writer-dies.html?smid=tw-nytimesobituary&seid=auto&_r=0

  8. on 02 Jul 2013 at 4:23 am 8.Michael said …

    Just think . . . Mr. Bevan passed away after just drawing a number of caricatures. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) gave me a look like “what are you doing out of school?” when I saw him at Sardi’s on one of my last trips there. Definitely my case.

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