Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lost Drawings of George Wachsteter Auction

David Brinkley by
George Wachsteter

On March 24, the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries in Thomaston Maine will host a one-day auction featuring "The Lost Drawings of George Wachsteter", a mind-boggling collection of original art spanning four decades from the estate of Wachsteter, at one time one of the most celebrated caricaturists of the mid-twentieth century,  now all but virtually forgotten:

Thanks to the efforts of a few longtime admirers of his incredible art, among them Leonard Maltin, Mike Lynch, yours truly and the caricaturist Zach Trenholm, who made a pilgrimage to Elmhurst Queens to visit the aging and forgotten Wachsteter in his final years,  George Wachsteter's work will receive the attention and inevitable revival it so richly deserves, (and hopefully an anthology). This is my blog tribute to Wachsteter from 2012:

I'm showing just a sampling here (in no particular order) of some of the original Wachsteter caricatures and illustrations that will to be auctioned on the 24th. Full descriptions, including names, dates, and publications, as well as rough art and printed covers can be found on the auction catalog site:

The majority of work represented in the auction was created for the weekly cover of the New York Journal-American Pictorial TV section. When the Journal- American ceased publication in the late sixties and Wachsteters vision faltered, his career virtually came to a halt.

Looking at his work, you might assume that George Wachsterer was perhaps greatly influenced by the legendary Al Hirschfeld, who Wachsteter frequently alternated with at the New York Times in the forties, but consider that they were each contemporaries and both quite celebrated in their day. They were also both clearly influenced by the great caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias. Enjoy!

My thanks to Martin Gostanian
4 Broadway composers

Eddie Cantor, The Colgate Comedy Hour
4 for Texas

What's My Line?

Walter Brennan/The Real McCoys
Five TV Comedians

1950 Broadway directors

All-Star review

The Ann Sothern show

Broadway Playwrights, 1949

Bells are Ringing

Milton Berle, Happy/Sad

Jack Benny, Milton Berle

Jackpot Bowling with Milton Berle

the Milton Berle show

Bing Crosby

Ray Bolger

Ray Bolger

Jay North, Boris Karloff

George Burns looks at comedy

Captain Kangaroo

Car 54 Where Are You?

Art Carney

Johnny Carson

Carson & NBC Peacock

Danny Kaye

David Brinkley

1949 poster design

Dick Clark

Dizzy Dean

Don Amache

the Donna Reed Show

the Dick Van Dyke Show

Ed Sullivan, Ringmaster

Ed Sullivan at Freedomland

Ed Wynn

Joe E. Brown

Joe E. Brown

George S. Kaufman

Eric Blore

Bob Hope

Lowell Thomas

Ernie Ford as George Washington

Ernie Ford Paintings

Ernie Ford, Charlie Weaver

Fanny Brice

Allen Funt

Reggie Van Gleason

Arthur Godfrey

"Hit the Deck" at the Jones Beach theatre

The Alfred Hitchcock Show

Sid Caesar/Holiday on Wheels

Hugh Downs

Petticoat Junction

Jerry Lewis watercolor

Jerry Lewis, Garry Moore

Jerry Van Dyke

Jimmy Stewart

1964 Democratic convention with LBJ

My Little Margie

My Little Margie

Lucy/Desi Comedy Hour with Tallulah Bankhead

The Lucy Show

Lunt & Fontanne

cast of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

cast of "Uncle Willie" (with Menasha Skulnik)

The Munsters

My Favorite Martian

The NBC All-Star Review

Walter Matthau, Art Carney, "The Odd Couple"

Olson & Johnson

Oscar Levant

1946 Radio Stars

Red Buttons

Rudy Vallee

Sammy Kaye

The Defenders

"The Great Gleason Express"

The Jackie Gleason Show

Tom Ewell

Wagon Train

Walter Pigeon

Wayne & Shuster

Will Rogers

How to be a Jewish Mother

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Comp art for the NBC Book of Stars


  1. Awesome stuff. What a great line he had.

  2. I had the identical experience that you did, Drew. I owned The NBC Book of Stars for decades before I ever found anything else by this artist. (He's identified only as "Wachsteter" inside, and there wasn't any Internet back then to look him up.) I hope the auction gallery issues a printed catalogue. I'd like to own all of these.

    I wonder if Allen Funt complained about his caricature again -- or did he learn his lesson with Hirschfeld? BTW, that Jay North & Boris Karloff teaming could've been a whole series! The mind boggles just thinking about the possibilities...

  3. Mike, yes, there is an auction catalog. If you contact the auction house, I'm sure you can arrange to have them send you one.

  4. You should get straight up dibs just for all the time & work you put in posting these Drew :)

    It's only with George's passing that these beautiful examples of celebrity caricature would ever leave his hands. He was very possessive, protective of his art & as such, very, very few originals have rested out there in public hands....

  5. Your blog is the best destination on the internet. Keep it up, if all this hard work doesn't kill ya.

  6. Thank you, being in England I'd never heard this guy, his work is superb.