By Kelly A. | Contributing Writer

When assembling our list of “The Temptress Magazine Top Ten Classic Pin-Up Artists” a few months ago, the brilliant George Petty was among the first few artists on our list. There were plenty of pin-up illustrators on the scene in the 1940s, but only George Petty had work so pervasive he had an MGM musical based on his work. The very first Petty Girl illustrated by George Petty can be seen in the inaugural issue of Esquire magazine in October of 1933. From that moment on, his pin-up girls were a prominent feature of the magazine, and would remain so for almost a decade.

The elongated frame, thin torso, and buxom bosom of the Petty Girl made her an instant sensation. She was usually illustrated with very light lines, barely more than a sketch, with milky white coloring. Petty Girls were most often seen donning ballet shoes at the bottom of their unusually long legs. Petty would pose his girls in outstretched positions to lengthen the lithe bodies he would draw. The Petty Girl was tantalizing, but still had the gleam in her eye of the girl next door.

After gaining celebrity with Esquire magazine, Petty Girls started appearing in advertisements for everything from beer to brassieres! Esquire, however, was ready for some new life in their magazine, hiring pin-up artist Alberto Vargas in 1940, causing an irreparable rift between Petty and the publication. Esquire and George Petty parted ways, but the legacy the artist created there would last a lifetime.

Petty’s fame continued to rise, despite leaving Esquire. In 1941 Petty even drew Hollywood star Rita Hayworth in his classic Petty Girl likeness for a Time magazine cover. He worked steadily throughout the late 1940s publishing Petty Girl Calendars, and ending the decade with an MGM musical in his honor! The Petty Girl, a musical starring Robert Cummings and Joan Caulfield was loosely based on the life of George Petty. (Fun fact:  The Petty Girl was also the debut film role of a young Tippi Hedren!)

Petty would return to Esquire to produce more calendar work in the late 1950s, and continued a fruitful career. George Petty endures as not only one of the first real American pin-up artists, but one of the greatest.  He died in California in 1975, but his Petty Girls remain a staple of cheesecake artistry and Americana.

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty

George Petty