After his ten year stay in England, Einar Nerman and his family returned to Sweden and probably would have resettled there but for the threat of war. His wife decided that she and the children should join friends who were going to America. Nerman was give the choice to go with them and reluctantly agreed. What was going to be a few months once again turned into a ten year stay.
On arriving in New York he went searching for a newspaper or magazine to publish his work. In those days New York had morning, afternoon and evening newspapers chief amongst which was the Hearst published Journal-American. When Nerman went to see the editor he discovered they had been printing his London drawings without his permission or payment. Rather than sue he took a job with the newspaper and for one of his first assignments was sent to Hollywood to draw the current screen favorites.
Sonja Henie was three time Olympic champion and star of a series of popular 20th Century Fox movie musicals. Nerman has captured that ever present Henie smile as she glided across the rink and it may just be me but has he also captured a bit of her reported devilishness in that trailing shadow?
The Hollywood Raj was the name penned by Sheridan Morley to describe the large number of performers from the British Isles who made Beverly Hills their home in the hay day of the studio system. Nominally headed by C. Aubrey Smith they included some of Hollywood's most famous leading players and some of its finest character actors. Many had travelled over to appear on Broadway, made their way to the West Coast and found the sunshine of California more appealing than the cold fogs of London. Nerman had caught some of them on paper during their London days and others he lined during his Hollywood days.
Nerman captured many actors from the British community while they were still appearing on the London stage - many of them as they enjoyed their first flush of success.
My Fair Lady) and continued performing on stage and screen until well into her 80s. She also starred in The Rogues, one of the most sophisticated, superbly written and acted - and short lived - series ever shown on American TV.
In the preface to the book these drawings are taken from composer-Playwright Sandy Wilson quotes Nerman as saying: It is very easy to be nasty, but kindness nowadays means so much. And that is one thing that is notable in Nerman's work - his drawings are seldom unkind to their subject. But that did not stop him from taking the odd sly dig at his sitter if it meant he could capture something of their character with his pen.
One of Nerman's favourite subjects - and close friends - was the reclusive Swedish star Greta Garbo. He seldom spoke of their friendship but she is the Hollywood star who he drew most often.
Other postings on Nerman and his work can be found at:
Dance, Dance, Dance Little Lady
17 settembre - San Roberto Bellarmino