LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012) was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He served in World War l, working as an army cook during the war. Soon, his artist ability was noticed after he began painting sets for Red Cross shows. When he returned from the war, he briefly studied at St. Paul School of Art and the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He joined the faculty at the Art Institute after graduation and would teach there for ten years while also exhibiting art in competitions.
Neiman began his affiliation with Playboy in 1954 and would as a contributor to the magazine for the next 50 years. He wrote a feature for the magazine for 15 years called “Man at His Leisure,” where he traveled the world and painted illustrations. In 1970 Neiman illustrated The 5th Dimension’s album, Portrait. He also illustrated a special sports issue for The Nation magazine.
Neiman sponsored several organizations such as The LeRoy Neiman Center for Youth in San Francisco, the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia in New York, and the Leroy Neiman Campus Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
He received numerous honorary doctorates and awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the University of Southern California. Neiman published twelve books of his art. A documentary of The Big Band, which was one of his jazz paintings, had its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2009.
One of Neiman’s paintings featuring tennis star Chris Evert appeared on the cover of the May 1, 1976, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.