When Withers began Painting pin-ups for Brown & Bigelow
in 1950, he had already spent twenty-five years working
in the Hollywood film industry. He was ready for a change,
and so was the calendar company, which assigned him the
honor of painting the Artist's Sketch Pad calendar for the
1954 market. Wither's first twelve dreamy pin-ups would
be followed by many more in the years to come, until the
calendar passed on to Fritz Willis
Edward Withers was born in Wellington, New Zealand. After
studying at Wellington College, he enrolled at the Royal
Academy in London and leter at the South Kensington School
of Art and the Slade School of Art. Eager for more training,
Withers moved to Paris and the prestigious Académie Julian.
During World War I, he saw service in Samoa, Egypt, France
and Germany and received three decorations.
In 1924, Withers came to America with his wife and two
children. In his Hollywood years, he did a number of celebrity
portraits while employed in a series of jobs, including
art director at MGM Studios, supervisor in the trick and
miniature department at Universal Studios, art director
for Earnshaw-Young Advertising Agency. and art director
for the Stirling Press Lithograph Company. He also painted
fine-art works for his own enjoyment, and his award-winning
landscapes were widely exhibited.
In November 1950, at his first Brown & Bigelow cocktail
party, Withers was talking with Norman
Rockwell when Rolf Armstrong
and Gil Elvgren arrived. These
two pin-up greats were introduced to Withers, who was bowled
over when Armstrong praised him as "one of America's
greatest, most versitile painters" and Elvgren, who
had a keen interest in photography, added "one of the
best photographers in the country".
Withers had an analytical mind, a great personality, and
a supurb sense of humor - not to mention the technical skills
of Da Vinci. In a letter to Brown & Bigelow, he once
described the view from his Hollywood apartment in this
way: "At night I look out on a carpet of jewels composed
of neon and street lights, and here I work and am grateful
that way over the eastern horizon, you nice people multiply
my effort and enable me to live very well indeed".
He passed away in Los Angeles in early 1964.