Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bill Edwards (1918-1999)

Rodeo Rider, Model, Actor, Illustrator, SCUBA Diver
Born September 14, 1918, New Jersey
Died December 21, 1999, Newport Beach, California

Weird Tales, the magazine that never dies, came back to life again in 1973 under the editorship of Sam Moskowitz. Unfortunately, that incarnation was short-lived with a run of only four issues. The cover of the first issue was created by Virgil Finlay in the 1930s but had never before been published. As we have seen, the cover for the last issue was created by Jack L. Thurston. Thurston's cover was for an unrelated paperback book and was probably swiped and altered by an unknown artist. That leaves just two covers that would seem to have been created specifically for the 1970s version of Weird Tales. Of those two covers, only one--issue number three--was signed by the artist. His name was Bill Edwards and he lived a long and colorful life.

Born in New Jersey on September 14, 1918, Edwards started drawing horses as a youngster. He grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and learned to be a rodeo rider. A few broken bones brought an end to that career and the art world was better for it.

Six feet five inches tall with dark blond hair, blue eyes, and boyish good looks, Bill Edwards became a model in New York City and an actor in Hollywood. Beginning with Strange Faces in 1938, Edwards played bit parts and supporting roles in movies and television for the next half century. His credits included Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Hail the Conquering the Hero (1944), and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), plus television roles in Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O, and Magnum, P.I. During the 1960s, he ran a SCUBA shop in Reseda, California, and helped establish a diving club, the International Diving Society. 

Edwards' art career began in the 1950s with illustrations for paperback books and men's magazines. He also created illustrations of paper dolls. Edwards is perhaps best known for his work for the "exploitation" market, showing women in various states of undress and often in peril. His lone cover for Weird Tales came in the Winter issue of 1973.

Edwards' last acting credit (according to the Internet Movie Database) came in 1987. He died twelve years later in Newport Beach, California, at age eighty-one.

Bill Edwards' Cover for Weird Tales
Winter 1973 (Vol. 47, No. 3)

Model, actor, and artist Bill Edwards, one of several contributors to Weird Tales to have worked in show business. Others included Mindret Lord, Trevor Bardette (Terva Gaston Hubbard), and Duke Hickey (Preston Langley Hickey).
Edwards got his start as a rodeo rider and knew horses and Western scenery well.
He is most well known today for his "exploitation" paperback covers. Say what you will about the subject matter--Bill Edwards knew how to draw.
There's probably no need in pointing out the symbolism in a white bedpost or a pink curtain.
Here's an early magazine cover where the color pink is used a little more innocently.
Finally, Bill Edwards' lone cover for Weird Tales. In contrast with Casanova above, the man in this picture, lying prone and covered with a sheet, has little to look forward to.
Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

2 comments:

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  2. Dear Unknown,

    Thanks at least for letting me know that you have borrowed my article and thanks for the attribution in your Ebay posting. That's more than some people have done on Ebay. I will say, though, that my blog is not a place to advertise. That's why I haven't monetized it. So I'm going to remove your comment and wish you luck in your sale.

    TH

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