In a career that spanned a full nine decades, the late, legendary caricature artist Al Hirschfeld churned out numerous drawings and sketches featuring canine companions. And the latest online thematic exhibition from the Al Hirschfeld Foundation offers a veritable parade of famous pets from the 20th century as seen in Hirschfeld’s works.
The lineup includes everything from Lassie, the collie who made her MGM debut in 1943 alongside child stars Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor, and was drawn by Hirschfeld in a rare colored painting in 1958, when the canine was a TV star to Blanco the Collie and Him the Beagle, two of President Lyndon Johnson’s dogs when he was in the White House, sketched by Hirschfeld in 1969.
Also included: Sandy, rescued from the Connecticut Humane Society on the day he was to be put to sleep, who went on to serve as the sung-to companion in the 1977 Broadway hit musical Annie, sketched alongside the original cast including child star Andrea McArdle and Eddie, the star Jack Russell Terrier from the ’90s TV sitcom Frasier, depicted in 1996 along with his human castmates.
The one popular pup Hirschfeld never drew or sketched is arguably the most famous terrier in all of movie history: Toto the Cairn Terrier from The Wizard of Oz. This, despite the fact that Hirschfeld created 12 different drawings of The Wizard of Oz. The closest he came was his drawing for the 1978 filmed musical adaptation The Wiz, which featured a tiny Miniature Schnauzer as Toto, sketched just below Michael Jackson’s cape and practically underfoot of the Lion.
Other notable pooches to emanate from Hirschfeld’s pen include Paul McCartney’s famous English sheepdog who inspired the Beatles’ 1968 song “Martha My Dear,” and Skippy the Wire Fox Terrier, depicted in a 1998 sketch with actors Myrna Loy and William Powell from The Thin Man, and credited with helping popularize terriers as pets in a run of hit movies from the 1930s.
On display through August 15. Visit www.alhirschfeldfoundation.org.
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