Another celebrity passing

Caricaturist Al Hirschfeld Dies at 99
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Albert Hirschfeld, a caricaturist known for his drawings of performers from the Marx Brothers to Johnny Carson, died on Monday. He was 99.
Hirschfeld died in his sleep at his Manhattan home, his wife, Louise Kerz, told Reuters.
Hirschfeld, whose witty and graceful drawings appeared on the pages of The New York Times for seven decades, was known for instantly recognizable caricatures of Broadway and Hollywood stars.
“I come out of the theater with a lot of abstract little markings that I then translate into line. The important thing is that the drawing look a little bit like the actor I am drawing. There is a lot of trial and error and a lot of erasing until I can get it as far as I can, before the final inking. It is not a pretty process,” Hirschfeld told Reuters in a 1999 interview.
His work also appeared in books and the collections of museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
Then 95, he said in the 1999 interview that he was finally getting good at his work.
“After 70 years of drawing you have to improve, otherwise you are a dolt. It is a question of elimination and understanding, of trial and error, and suddenly something happens, an epiphany,” he said.
The artist also was known for playfully hiding the word “Nina,” the name of his daughter, in the lines of his drawings.
Finding the “Ninas” in his newspaper caricatures became an American ritual. The U.S. Department of Defense once used his drawings in an exercise, blowing them up on a giant screen and giving 100 pilots 20 seconds to find the hidden names.
For performers, being drawn by Hirschfeld was a mark of status, said Arthur Gelb, former managing editor of The New York Times and a long-time friend of the artist.
“Every major star, Broadway or Hollywood, here or abroad, when they reached the point that they were drawn by Al Hirschfeld, they knew in their hearts that they had arrived,” Gelb told Reuters on Monday.
Hirschfeld won a special Tony award for his art. The 1996 film documentary “The Line King” told the story of his life.
Hirschfeld was born on June 21, 1903, in St. Louis. His family moved to New York when he was 12.
In 1924, he went to live in Paris, joining the American expatriate community there. His first theatrical caricature appeared in 1926 in the now defunct New York Herald Tribune.
His drawings have been compared to the work of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who Hirschfeld called a major influence on his work.
Besides his drawings, Hirschfeld also was a wonderful raconteur, Gelb said. “His stories about New York, about Paris, about Broadway and Hollywood were funny, and always packed with detail,” he said.
In late 2002, plans were announced to rename the Martin Beck Theater on West 45th Street in Manhattan for Hirschfeld. The theater will become the Al Hirschfeld this June, on what would have been his 100th birthday.
Survivors include his wife, daughter Nina, who is the daughter of Hirschfeld’s late wife Dolly Haas, and two step-sons, Jonathan and Antony Kerz.