Al Hirschfeld is a child prodigy who grew old but never up. His view of the world around him, particularly the American theater, is as fresh and unique and joyous as ever. He was born in 1903 and the twentieth century was full of opportunities for an ambitious young man. As a teenager, he lived in New York City and studied art. After an early but short career with Samuel Goldwyn Studios (where he got his first art assignments doing ads) he moved over to Selznick Pictures and by 1921, at the ripe old age of 17, he was their art director. A short stint running his own art studio ended up badly when Selznick went bankrupt. A job with Warner Brothers allowed Hirschfeld to pay off his employees and, as a reward, his uncle bought him a ticket to Paris and gave him $500.
Six months in 1925 were spent in Europe and he returned to New York primed for a career as a painter. But on December 26, 1926 the sketch he had done of actor Sacha Guitry (right) was published in the NY Herald Tribune. Within two years his theatrical drawings were appearing in five different New York newspapers, including the Times, for whom he still works today.