Although Esquire initially hired Al Moore to replace
Vargas in the late 1940s, it was
Ernest Chiriaka who took over the magazine's twelve-page
calendar from 1953 to 1957 - a great responsibility since
the calendar had continued to be the largest-selling and
most popular in the world.
Born in 1910, Chiriaka got a job painting movie and theater
posters for the Associated Display Company in New York City
in the early 1930s, even though he had no formal art training.
Realizing he had much to learn, he enrolled in the Art Students
League and then moved on to study at the Grand Central School
under Harvey Dunn, his greatest influence. In the late 1930s,
he worked for the pulps, doing front-cover paintings mainly
of Western subjects. Among the "slicks" that employed
him were The Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan.
During the 1940s and early 1950s, he created front-cover
paintings for American Weekly, the Sunday-magazine
supplement of the Hearst newspapers.
Chiriaka's first pin-ups were for Esquire in 1952.
Working in gouache, he produced works that had very distinctive
skin tones, especially in their printed form. Chiriaka contributed
pin-ups to the 1953 Brown & Bigelow Ballyhoo calendar
and later did three additional pin-ups that the firm published
as seperate calendars. He also traveled often to Hollywood
to paint film stars.
In the late 1930s, Chiriaka had devised wonderful front
covers for Western pulp magazines. He later went on to create
front-cover Western subjects for the paperback book market,
working mostly with Pocket Books and Cardinal Editions.
When his career in commercial illustration ended, Chiriaka
brought his love of the Old West to the field of fine art.
His distinctive style, influenced by Impressionism, established
him as one of the greats in the field of contemporary Western