Lived In: Kenosha, WI
You Know Him From: His awesome portraits of many people.
Did You Know? George Pollard (March 20, 1920 – April 17, 2008) was an American portrait painter. Born in Waldo, Wisconsin, he painted portraits of famous people, such as Harry S. Truman and Muhammad Ali. Pollard served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited Australia, Pollard was ordered to paint her portrait. Mrs. Roosevelt loved it. For more than 50 years George and his wife Nan Pollard sketched and painted together, winning national and international acclaim in quite different areas. While Nan has illustrated more than 2,000 books for children, George has produced more than 5,000 portraits of the rich and famous.
George was raised in the small farming community of Waldo, Wisconsin. Encouraged by his mother, he began drawing at a young age and attended the Layton School of Art after high school. George soon moved on to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and then to Chicago to study under Frederick Mizen, one of the nation’s top illustrators. When World War II began, George left Mizen’s academy and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his 39 months of service, he continued his art. His work attracted the attention of his superiors, who ordered him to paint the portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and General Douglas MacArthur. George returned to the Layton School of Art after the war, where he met and married Nan in 1947.
Nan and George settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Nan was soon hired as a staff artist at Lowe Publishing, where she and George collaborated on celebrity doll books. George painted the covers while Nan would do the dolls and dresses. Nan continued to illustrate children’s books while George’s career as a portrait artist took off. He did portraits of Presidents Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy and Reagan; Supreme Court Justices William O. Douglas and William Rehnquist; Wisconsin governors Lee Sherman Dreyfus and Tommy Thompson; and sports figures Muhammad Ali, Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi. He even painted Pope John Paul II, which won the Pontiff’s Medal, an honor usually reserved for heads of state. George currently has more portraits hanging in Washington D.C. government buildings than any other artist.
Nan and George raised four children together, and their children all have become distinguished artists in their own right. The Pollards received The Award for Distinction in Visual Arts Given in Memory of Artist Georgia O’Keeffe in 2006. George Pollard died at his home in Kenosha on April 17, 2008.
Sources: wikipedia, wisconsinhistory.org