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Each year pinup enthusiasts across the country celebrated the anniversary of the ultimate pinup girl, the "Varga Girl."

The artist, Alberto Vargas, was born in Peru in 1896. He came to the United States in 1916. In 1919, Vargas started to paint Ziegfield Follies' girls for Florenz Ziegfield. Ziegfield insisted that there be "no blatant nudity, sex should be implicit...". When the Follies closed down in the early 1930'', he painted such motion picture stars as Marlene Dietrich, Alice Faye, and Greta Garbo.

In 1940, Varga worked for Esquire painting a new beauty every month. With the month to month appearance of Vargas' sensual beauties, national prominence was secured for the artist and his work. The "Varga Girl" was born and became a part of the American life. During the war, they were a constant reminder to servicemen that there was more waiting at home than Mom's apple pie.

In August of 1943, the U.S. Postal Department issued Esquire a summons on the grounds of obscenity. It was a costly court case for Esquire, but in the end, with the case decided in its favor, it had reaped the benefits of publicity centered around the "Varga Girl".

The announcement of the first "Varga Calendar" marked an entirely new level of popularity for the artist. In its first year, mail orders alone reached 320,000 and by 1946 the figure would fall just short of 3,000,000 copies.

Varga first appeared in Playboy in 1957. Varga painted 177 images, over an 18 year period for Playboy.

In testimony during the Esquire trial, Varga said, "I will some day make a 'Varga Girl' so beautiful, so perfect, so typical of the American girl, that I can put that picture in any part of the world without my signature...and they will say that this is a 'Varga Girl'." And indeed, the Varga image has endured for decades throughout the world.


Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques





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Ken Durham
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585 (10am - 9pm East Coast Time)
All others, please email: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com