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Sam Norkin

This week I'd like to introduce you to a man who probably needs no introduction: Broadway's "other" caricaturist, Sam Norkin. After more than sixty years at his drawing table Sam is still keeping busy. In fact he is enjoying somewhat of a revival with a website and a new drawing for last year's Sweeney Todd concert at Lincoln Center. This month more than twenty Sam Norkin originals will be featured at an auction in New York City as a benefit to help preserve the work of many of America's greatest cartoonists.

Sam's first published caricature, in 1940, was of film director Alfred Hitchcock. In 1942 he was sent on assignment to sketch Joan Roberts (whom he recently sketched in her current role in the revival of Follies), then starring in Oklahoma! on Broadway. In the years since, he has created thousands of drawings which have been seen by millions of people around the world in such newspapers as The New York Herald Tribune, The

Norkin & Joan Roberts
New York Daily News, The Philadelphia Bulletin and Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Star and Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Toronto Star. As a result his work has been seen by more people than the work of any other caricaturist. And Sam has often offered something unique: renderings of shows from their out-of-town, pre-Broadway engagements, some of which never made it to the Great White Way.

Writing the prologue to Sam's book "Sam Norkin: Drawings Stories," Douglas Watt said, "Norkin's sense of drama has shown a disturbing tendency to win out over the playwright's. There is an enviable mastery at work here. His is an astonishing and valuable art." Frequently working on the road, when the actors have not yet received their costumes and the set is still under development, Sam has put elements of performer, set, costume and lighting together on paper in a preview of what was to be seen on stage. And many of his drawings stir memories of some of the great moments in the performing arts.

Patti LuPone & George Hearn

Recently Sam has joined the worldwide web with a website that highlights his work. The site contains just a sampling of the thousands of drawings available from his New York studio. The subject matter includes figures from the worlds of theatre, film, opera, television, classical music, ballet, politics, pop music, and politics. The website is a continuous work in progress as the plan is to post both new and old drawings as time allows.

Throughout his career, Sam has received multiple accolades and honors including an award for a Lifetime Body of Work from the Drama Desk in 1995. He has also served as president of that group. His work has been exhibited in many galleries, as well as the Lincoln Center Museum of the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the Hudson River Museum.

This month Guernsey's, the New York auction house, will feature a number of Sam's drawings in a special auction of cartoon and comic art. Many of the works being sold will come directly from the archives of the International Museum of Cartoon Art, the Boca Raton based institution that is generally considered the finest repository of art for this genre. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida.

The auction will be held at the prominent New York Historical Society in New York City on May 19-20. In keeping with the age of technology absentee bidders will have the opportunity of bidding on-line. A catalog is available from Guernseys at 212-794-2280. For more information check out

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