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Rockwell’s Willie Gillis

Published: May 16, 2009

The Every Soldier

Two lovely ladies are at their mailboxes, but the situation isn’t pretty. Seems both have been communicating with the same soldier, Willie Gillis. Not the first time we find Willie in hot water.

Norman Rockwell created Willie Gillis as a kind of “every soldier,” not a strong-jawed, strapping hero, but a young man who, although in uniform, pretty much resembled the kid next door. This is perhaps most apparent in the July 25, 1942 cover showing Willie sitting in church. Alone in the pew, as far as we can see, he looks reverential and vulnerable. We like this kid.

But he did seem to have a way with the ladies. The February 7, 1942 cover shows Willie being plied with goodies from not one, but two attentive USO workers. The June 27 cover of the same year shows the soldier and a lovely lass reviewing an official booklet entitled What To Do in a Blackout. Willie appears to have some thoughts on the subject.

The first cover that featured Willie was October 4, 1941. Willie received a package from home labeled “FOOD.” He is looking over his shoulder, closely trailed by a half dozen eager soldiers. And it would appear they all outrank Willie.

Much is known about the iconic Norman Rockwell, a prolific illustrator whose name has become synonymous with The Saturday Evening Post. And we think he would be pleased to turn over Willie Gillis to us to salute all of our men and women in the Armed Forces. Brave, highly competent, and dedicated, they are also, as Norman Rockwell knew and captured in his illustrations, completely human.

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  • andrea martin

    My great Uncle was Robert Buck aka Willi Gillis… he passed away this week. RIp

  • john lawrence

    Sorry abut the spelling

  • john lawrence

    At 2:00 on april 3rd at deep creek Elks I prsoaly met Robert Buck .AKA Willie Gillis and he gave me 4 autografs On pictures that Norman Rockwell painted.

  • I in der Regel nicht auf Beiträge antworten, aber ich werde in diesem Fall. WoW:)

  • Jarrod

    The model Rockwell used for Gillis was my wife’s uncle. Apparently, they met in Vermont. He said that this guy wouldn’t stop staring at him and that he was about to knock his block off when the guy said he was Norman Rockwell and that he wanted to paint him.

  • Jackie Kinney Howard

    Norman Rockwell was in Los Angeles in 1948 or 1949 and he was asked to judge a Wisteria Queen contest in Sierra Madre, Ca… I was one of five contestants from which he chose th queen…. Even though I was not the chosen one I consider it the it a high point in my life to have sat next to him and have my picture taken with him… I will always love and appreciate his work… Signed, Jackie Kinney Howard

  • Arnaldo Machado

    Happy birthday to you Norman and many happy returns of the day, may god bless and keep you cheerful throughout your life.
    From Arnaldo, Margarida & daughter Felicia Machado