In 1933, while working as a teller in a bank in St. Joseph, Missouri, Billy DeVorss sold his first three published pin ups to the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company. Relying on the support of his wife and model Glenna, as well as encouragement from Gene Sayles, the manager of Brown and Bigelow’s Kansas City branch office, DeVorss set out to become a full-time illustrator. Throughout his career he stood out among pin-up artists for his self-taught style, and his status as a freelance artist who divided his coveted work among all the leading calendar companies, increasing his visibility and income.
To pursue his ambition, DeVorss and his wife moved to New York and set up a penthouse studio in the Beaux Arts Building, at Eighteen East Tenth Street. Signing up with the prestigious American Artists group, DeVorss spent the next several years working for calendar-publishing houses such as Brown and Bigelow, The Thos. D. Murphy Calendar Co., Joseph C. Hoover, and Louis F. Dow. Most of his pastel originals were large and bore his highly distinctive Art Deco inspired signature.
The Emerald Girl captures both his art deco style, and his unsurpassed eye for color. It also captures the vivacious beauty and sophistication of Glenna, who acted as the live model for this monumental original artwork.
In 1951, Billy and Glenna DeVorss returned to St. Joseph, their first home. After some time there, they settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, where DeVorss died in 1985.