1893-1984 | Browse Artwork
|Above: Earl Moran and a model.|
Earl Moran’s Early Years
Earl Moran was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa and studied illustration at the Chicago Art Institute and Art Students League in Manhattan. He spent over a decade working in obscurity as a commercial illustrator before he turned to the pin up art for which he’s known. In 1932, Moran created two large format bathing beauty artworks featuring a voluptuous blonde who seemed nude despite her swimsuit, and sent one of them to the Thomas D. Murphy Company and the other to Brown & Bigelow. Both were accepted for publciation Then before the Thomas D. Murphy Company could commission any more of Moran’s groundbreaking pin-ups, Brown & Bigelow signed him to an exclusive contract.
Earl Moran and Brown & Bigelow
In 1944, after nearly 10 years as a Brown & Bigelow star artist, Earl Moran was awarded an honorary BSA—Bachelor of Sex Appeal. The calendar giant used this publicity stunt to capitalize on his personal sex scandal and impending bachelorhood, as the previous year, having had enough of the artist’s “outrageous flirting and indecent dancing, hugging and kissing” Mura, the third Mrs. Moran, had filed for divorce. She claimed to have seen the famous World War II pin-up model Chili Williams with Moran in his studio, without a camera, a canvas, or their clothes. The controversy made headlines for years, as Chili—the Polka Dot Girl—tried to protect her reputation, while Mura sought a large financial settlement, and Moran moved on to yet another young model.
Earl Moran broke ground for B&B with the sheer eroticism of his pin-ups. His chiaroscuro nudes – widely considered his most artistic efforts – were created for B&B between 1935 and 1940.
|Above: Earl Moran with model circa 1933-1936|
|Above: A young Marilyn Monroe as photgraphed by Moran C.1948|
Moran was a photographer, as well as an illustrator, which lent well in his portrait pin-ups by giving him a great knowledge of lighting and shadows.
|Above: Marilyn Monroe poses for Earl Moran.|
In 1940, LIFE Magazine featured Moran in their article “Speaking of Pictures” and the American audience was in awe.
Earl Moran and Marilyn Monroe
While most of B&B’s artists claimed that professional models lacked natural charm, Moran loved actresses, as models, girlfriends and wives. He judged beauty pageants in New York and then used the winners as models, and after moving to Los Angeles, he employed actresses Joi Lansing, Barbara Nichols, Marie Wilson, Jayne Mansfield, and most famously, Marilyn Monroe, at $10 an hour.
He first met Monroe in 1946, when she was still Norma Jeanne Baker and he was renting a studio from Henry Clive, illustration’s other famous raconteur. She would go on to model for him throughout the ’40s, and the many photographs which have emerged, both costumed and nude, give credence to Brown & Bigelow’s claim that Moran’s skill with a camera set him apart in capturing the moment of abandon calendar buyers wanted to see.
|Above: Moran posed with Marilyn Monroe Spanish Girl Pastel|
|Above: Marilyn Monroe as posed by Earl Moran|
|Above: Fresh faced pin-up model Norma Jean|
|Above: Morans pin-up model in a relaxed pose|
|Above: Sepia photo of Monroe posed as ” The Spanish Girl “|
|Above: Brown & Bigelow conference room, lined with Moran paintings|