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How a Classified Ad Brought Rockwell Two Black Eyes

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The Shiner by Norman Rockwell

Shiner, by Norman Rockwell, appeared on the May 23, 1953, cover of the Post. © SEPS

Portraying a boy with a black eye was commonplace enough. Here, Rockwell gives the schoolyard dust-up a then-modern twist by painting a girl combatant who, judging by her grin, was the victor. But as he worked on the cover illustration, Rockwell found himself in a jam because his model was not, in fact, injured. And painting a realistic shiner was challenging, since a truly “black” eye contains multiple colors, none of them black.

Rockwell halted work to visit several hospitals but found no patients in the right condition. An obliging photographer ran an ad in the local paper, announcing a search for a model with a black eye. This created another diversion as the media caught wind of the story, and soon Rockwell was getting offers from across the country. But then, a bit of luck came Rockwell’s way when Tommy Forsberg of Worcester, Massachusetts, fell down the stairs and blackened both his eyes. His father drove him to Rockwell’s studio, where his injury would be immortalized, albeit on a young girl’s face.

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  • Erik Provensen

    Sadly the America of my youth no longer exists, where you would play outside, go hiking, have clubs, go hitch hiking, without political correctness following you around at every turn………….the Eisenhower years were years that being a kid, black eye and all, was fun…………and you never wanted to hear from Mom, “wait until your father gets home!”