Classic Art: Leading Ladies

From the 1940s through the 1960s, you could read steamy romance stories in The Saturday Evening Post. We know, you’re shocked. But just as much fun as the stories were the sultry illustrations. We call them our “Leading Ladies.” Campy, vampy and, well, not always politically correct, these ladies were definitely not June Cleaver.

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“It’s Me Darling—Your Husband!” – Joe De Mers

"It's Me Darling - Your Husband!" - Joe De Mers

“He woke to see his wife looking at him in horror. It seemed she had no recollection of getting married.” Don’t you hate when that happens? From a 1949 story called, “It’s Me Darling—Your Husband!” this is one of the many enticing illustrations by artist Joe De Mers. We like to call them our “leading ladies.”

“Clever Women Are Dangerous Too” – Joe De Mers 

"Clever Women Are Dangerous Too" - Joe  De Mers

“The door opened, and Imogene made her entrance.” Did she ever! Move over, Beyoncé—this is the quintessential 1950’s hottie. “He was afraid of being trapped by some gorgeous birdbrain. He forgot that (here comes the title): ‘Clever Women Are Dangerous Too.'” Another lady by Joe De Mers, who looks like she might be a handful.

“The Lady and the Lion” – Perry Peterson

"The Lady and the Lion" - Perry Peterson

This dark-haired hunk is demonstrating a lion’s moves—for her own safety, of course. “He gets his paws on the cow’s back like this, and closes in like this,’” he says to the stunning blond. Looks like the lion’s paws aren’t the only ones to fear. This is from 1954’s story “The Lady and the Lion,” and the artist was Perry Peterson.

“Second Class Marriage” – Coby Whitmore

"Second Class Marriage" - Coby Whitmore

“How soon, Mary Jo?” Shelby was saying. “How soon can you do something about—him?” What the heck was going on in the ’50s? A folksy, down-home magazine cover, but inside… steam heat! Like many Post cover artists, Coby Whitmore did inside illustrations, too. This one comes from the story “Second Class Marriage” in 1955.

“Girl Shy” – Bob Hilbert 

"Girl Shy" - Bob Hilbert

The title of the story was “Girl Shy” from 1955. Well, he may be shy, but she definitely isn’t! Pinning him down with a kiss, she says “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Willy Teeden—here!” Geeze, a guy couldn’t even eat his lunch without some blond nailing him.

“A Man In Her Room” – Edwin Georgi

"A Man In Her Room" -  Edwin Georgi

When her fiance and his mother walked in, they were scandalized. They obviously didn’t expect to find “A Man In Her Room.” Her future mother-in-law was not appeased with her assertion, “It’s only Clary.” This illustration ran with the story in 1950. I can guarantee if this ran in the magazine today, we would get letters of complaint from some of our older readers. I don’t know if that means we’ve progressed or regressed. But if these temptresses are getting to you, you can get reprints of these sassy sirens. They’re eye-catching and fun in any room. Contact for details, or just to browse through more “Leading Ladies.” Click Here

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  1. I loved these women, their hair do’s, the clothing they wear for each cover. If it didn’t state what year it was on the cover, I would say it might just be today!

  2. All “Leading Ladies” were lovely to behold. Also enjoyed the slick, saucy puns and tastefully suggestive references.

  3. Are reprints of the stories themselves also available ? I could use a little tittle-ation in my old age !

  4. I absolutely LOVE the story illustrations that ran in the POST during the 1940’s and ’50s. All of these artists featured in this Diana Denny feature are fantastic. A lot of them never did COVERS per se, but they enriched the magazine on the INSIDE, which is often overlooked.

    Joe De Mers and Edwin Georgi are two favorites shown here. I love so many more of course, and will be buying reprints through the Curtis website mentioned above. I love the POST from all time periods, and am also pleased to see this website honor the covers from the 1960’s, of which many may not have seemed “POST-like” then, but represented their time perfectly. LIFE and Look never had Sonny & Cher, The Mamas & Pappas and The Girls from Laugh-In on THEIR covers, did they?! Now if they just could have done a cover on the Monkees…

  5. Interesting ladies. Interesting art work too. It is interesting to think a story printed in the early 1950’s would be too “sexy” for today”s Post.


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