BACKSTAGE, THE AMBASSADOR, 24” x 36” oil on canvas, signed lower left, c. 1940s, framed.
Samuel Norkin (January 10, 1917 – July 30, 2011)was a Brooklyn, New York-born cartoonist who specialized in theater caricatures for more than seven decades. His drawings of theater, opera, ballet and film celebrities appeared in Variety, Backstage, The Philadelphia Enquirer, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and many other publications.
Norkin learned composition and anatomy from the muralist Mordi Gassner. He received a scholarship to the Metropolitan Art School after his high school graduation, and he later attended Cooper Union, the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the School of Fine and Industrial Art. During the 1940s, newspaper editors wanted to devote more space to new theatrical productions, but photo opportunities usually did not happen until a show opened. Norkin took advantage of the situation and gained access to rehearsals, performers, costume sketches, fittings and scenic designs, providing editors with illustrations prior to an opening.
From 1940 to 1956, his theatrical illustrations were a regular feature in the New York Herald Tribune. Then for the next 26 years, he covered the performing arts for the Daily News. Since 1940, Norkin has had more than 4000 drawings published.
When he began doing theatrical caricature, he supplied his own captions, which eventually prompted him to write articles and reviews. He was an art critic for the Carnegie Hall house program and a cultural reporter for the Daily News.