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Happy Birthday, Norman Rockwell!

Published: February 2, 2012

Baby Carriage
By: Norman Rockwell
From May 20, 1916

It was a brush with destiny. A young artist named Norman Rockwell had a dream: to do a Saturday Evening Post cover. To this end, he showed a painting of a lovely ballerina to his buddy, Clyde Forsythe. His friend’s reaction: “C-R-U-D! Terrible. Awful. Hopeless.” Apparently, Forsythe was not one to mince words. Then Forsythe picked up one of the illustrations Rockwell had done for Boys’ Life magazine. “Do that,” he said. Do what you’re best at—kids.”

Following his friend’s suggestion, Rockwell was over the moon when “Baby Carriage” appeared as his first Post cover in 1916. He was twenty-two. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that lasted a remarkable 47 years and over 300 covers.

Celebrating Norman’s 84th birthday in 1978, The Saturday Evening Post collected a variety of quotes from celebrities:

“A Norman Rockwell painting makes you feel happy and warm.” – Bob Hope

“When I was a boy, I used to deliver The Saturday Evening Post in our neighborhood on Long Island. With what joy and excitement I opened the bundles of magazines and studied each new Norman Rockwell cover. I’m so glad that the Post is honoring him on his 84th birthday and I would like to add my personal message to him, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Rockwell, all the way from the Aloha State.” – Jack Lord

“Norman Rockwell is timeless and without a doubt, universal. His warmth and humanity cover you like a winter quilt. Norman Rockwell celebrates life, and it is a wonderful feeling to help celebrate his.” – Henry Winkler

Rockwell Portrait
by Gene Boyer

In 1978 a “new Post cover artist,” Gene Boyer, wished Norman Rockwell happy birthday in his own special way with this portrait.

“For his openness, his goodness and honesty and intelligence, the world thanks him and wishes him a great birthday. He is a great man. And would be embarrassed to be so called.” – Ronald Reagan

“Norman Rockwell is, I think, the most thoroughly American artist of all. Historians a thousand years from now will be able to learn a great deal of what life was like in the United States in the 20th century from studying the warm, human impressions by an artist who obviously loved his subjects.” – Steve Allen

Rockwell Painting Nasser

“Norman Rockwell’s name has become synonymous with a whole age of innocence in America, and his great paintings evoke in all of us a nostalgia for a simpler and happier time.” – Walter Cronkite

“Norman Rockwell has always had a way of staying in touch with the feelings and hearts of the American people. In this time of constant hunting by the news fraternity for the provocative, the thoughts and moods and illustrations of Norman are most welcome and refreshing.” – John Wayne

“Norman Rockwell is America’s greatest, and I wish my home was full of everything he ever painted. Love, Lucy.” – Lucille Ball

“Some of us grew up thinking that Uncle Sam’s real name was Norman Rockwell; I still do.” – Paul Harvey

At right, Norman Rockwell works on a portrait of Egyptian President Nasser, which appeared as a Post cover on May 25, 1963. It was his last Post cover. He passed away in November 1978.

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  • Bob McGowan

    Norman Rockwell, like Ben Franklin is synonymous with The Saturday Evening Post which has always been a wonderful thing, and should always continue to be that way.

    I still have that 84th birthday issue from Jan/Feb. 1978 and am so glad he was still living when it came out, having passed away that November.

  • Anna Eckleberry

    Saturday Evening Post has been a part of our home enjoyment for many years and since my husband passed away 10 years ago, it has meant more to me in
    my retirement years from teaching. My son gave me a set of Collectors Plates of
    Rockwell Front Pages and I have them in my kitchen to enjoy. I pass my magazines on to the Beauty Salon where I get my hair done.

  • Jim Taylor

    In my retirement years I have begun to appreciate Norman Rockwell’s work more. I just attended a birthday presentation for him at a retirement village and learned about his activities in our south-east Ohio area that is sparking my interest and is leading me to read more of his works.

  • john udy

    good guy great work

  • Lucille Patriarca

    Always enjoyed the Saturday evening Post with Norman Rockwell’s Illustrations.

  • Lucille Patriarca

    Have always enjoyed the Saturday Ebening Post with Norman Rockwell’s Illustratios. I have most of them. Especially like the 2 boys playing football and the boy and girl looking at the moon.

  • Bob Silvers

    I am happy to see The Saturday Evening Post continue to honor Norman Rockwell in its pages. It was our family’s great honor to have our seven-year-old son Bryan featured with Norman Rockwell on the cover of the first revived issue of this great magazine, with the Summer 1971 issue. Bryan is now 48, and the venerable Post marches on.

  • Laura Johannesen

    I have many Norman Rockwell prints around my home and a collection of the four seasons plates. I love his work. Why? Because they are a charming reflection of simpler times, lost to us if not for his wonderful illustrations.

  • Vickie Dunson

    I have so enjoyed his painting over the years. Thank you Saturday Evening Post. Happy Birthday Mr. Rockwell. Vickie

  • Connie Diancin

    Norman Rockwell is my refuge from modern day stress. Looking at his works reminds me of the good old days , when people have conviction , ethics , religion and common sense. So lacking these days !

  • Evelyn Long

    I just want to say “Thank you” for this coverage of Norman Rockwell’s birthday!
    I enjoyed it tremendously, as I do so much of The Saturday Evening Post.
    Keep them coming.
    By the way, as said by Aurora Parrella above, I am also an Aquarian. My 84th
    birthday is February 16.

    Evelyn Long

  • Aurora Parrella

    Since I was a child I have always enjoyed THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. The covers were always something to look forward to, so humane, funny & true to life!!
    Glad to see this message about his birthday. I too am an Aquarian!
    Thanks for sharing. A.P