Wednesday, January 26, 2005

George's girls

Mr Petty's secret: they were all based on his daughter

The only thing a little bit strange about the scantily-clad Petty Girl pin-up, with her rosy cheeks, perky D-cup breasts and Coca-Cola bottle curves, was that George Petty based her on his daughter. The construction of the ultimate male fantasy put to paper was a Petty family production line. George's wife would suggest drawing a coquettish ice skater or ballet dancer, then his daughter Marjorie would pose for him. He would morph the Petty Girl into a different pretty lady by transplanting another model's head on top for each painting. Even his son, George Jr, was the model for the Petty Girl's beau. The Petty Girls most famously appeared in Esquire for seven years, but also graced the front cover of Time magazine, were hood ornaments for Nash cars and starred in ads for the Ice Capades and the suggestively-named tool company Ridgid Tools. One of Petty's favourite poses for her was curled up on a bed on the recently-invented telephone. He once advertised his services in an illustrator's classified section, which traditionally carried ads that read "Water colour and oil" and "Poster and Book design", as "Telephones tenderly rendered". George Petty died in 1975, after spending the last years of his life hunting big game in Africa and on the panel of judges for Miss America. In 1973, Esquire also managed to convince him to draw his final pin-up, an old age pensioner complete with grey hair and granny glasses.


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