Saturday, June 23, 2007

St. Trinian's Part 2

Contributor Drazen Kojzan sent in this interesting article from the 50s;

'Well done Elspeth-it was Deadly Nightshade'

'Lovely Gym'

'Oh come on, girls. Put some magic into it!'

'Ah well, we are but destiny's playthings'

'For England & St.George!'

'Not Angels but Engels!'

'Fagged out'

Here's an interesting snippet that reveals Searle's eventual ambivalence towards his successful creation. It also gives an insight into his working method & even his financial income!

By the time St.Trinians 'revival' film 'The Wildcats of St.Trinians' was released in 1980 Searle had long turned his back on the naughty schoolgirls. However he was apparently persuaded to return to school for this publicity poster.

"O.K. Make it a Bollinger '29"- a St. Trinian school girl seated in a restaurant,
signed and inscribed 'Lilliput. Nov 1947'; with studio stamp on reverse, pen ink and bodycolour,
This drawing was executed for the present owners late husband, Prince Vfevolode (Romanov) of Russia, who was at the time the director of Zirconian Speed Wine Merchants.

Ronald Searle denies rumour of romance at St Trinian's
RONALD Searle, the reclusive creator of the St Trinian's cartoons, has given a rare insight into the story of the Edinburgh schoolgirl who inspired his famous drawings - and denied rumours of a romance between them when he was a young soldier.

Searle, now in his 87th year, has written to The Scotsman from his home in the south of France to quash suggestions that his early cartoons of the outrageous schoolgirls were a token of his love for Cecilé Johnston, a pupil of the real St Trinnean's school in Edinburgh.

The pair first met in 1941 in Fife when the Johnston family - who had evacuated to Kirkcudbright during the war - gave Searle hospitality while he was stationed there with the army before being sent to the Far East. Their friendship blossomed and he drew his first St Trinian's cartoon based on the tales he heard from Cecilé and her sister Pat about their school. "I suppose it would be lovely for the saga to have a delicious, romantic aspect, but I'm afraid the suggestion is rubbish," he writes.

Instead, he says the schoolgirls were "victims of a bit of fun by a 20-year-old budding artist".

With a new St Trinian's film, starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, due out this year, interest in the small private school, established by Miss Catherine Fraser Lee in the Grange area of the Scottish capital in 1922, has been renewed - as has curiosity about the girl who inspired Searle's drawings.

Cecilé, is now understood to be suffering from Alzheimer's, but letters written by her and Searle to mark a school reunion in 1985 - in which she referred to "broken hearts" after he sailed off to war and he made references to "holding her hand" - had led to suggestions there had been romance between the two. Former school friends also backed the idea that, on Cecilé's side, at least, there had been feelings of more than friendship towards the young artist.

However, Searle has now written in a bid to dispel that notion. Although Cecilé is believed to have been about 15 or 16 when they first met, he remembers her as even younger. And he says, as a young man aged between 20 and 21 when they first met, that his fondness for her arose from a gratitude he felt to the entire Johnston family for the care and friendship they gave him as a "miserable" soldier away from home.

Apologising that "there wasn't a bit of Barbara Cartland" to the story, Searle wrote to The Scotsman and said: "This thirteen-year-old daughter of the marvellous Johnston family and her sister Pat were the victims of a bit of fun by a twenty-year-old budding artist.

"There was only one drawing [of St Trinian's made at that time] and it was made to pull the legs of those two Edinburgh-evacuated pupils. By chance it was published, quite unexpectedly."

The second St Trinian's cartoon would be created in the horrific conditions of a Burmese PoW camp where Searle was abused and forced to work along the River Kwai, building the infamous "Death Railway" from Siam to Burma. His letter continued: "We soldiers were stationed in Kirkcudbright for those months before being shipped off to the Far East.

"The Johnston family, as were all the residents of Kirkcudbright, were marvellously kind and took us into the family as only the Scots can do. And the affection was retained by those of us who didn't die in Thailand to this day."

Among those young soldiers who never made it back from the war were Searle's childhood friend Matt , who had been with him when he first met Cecilé and had been another of those cared for by the Johnston family.

Searle's letter went on: "[Those families in Kirkcudbright] opened their doors with a generosity that made life unbelievably tolerable for a bunch of miserable soldiers."

The Scotsman, July 2007

Searle on German TV

Monday, June 18, 2007

Searle Exhibition

Ronald Searle exhibition at Nunnington Hall, UK.

Visitors to a Yorkshire stately home this summer have the opportunity to view, and even buy, original works by one of the world’s foremost illustrators and cartoonists – Ronald Searle.

Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley, is running the exhibition from 3 July until 2 September. The exhibition showcases works from across the career of the man hailed as the grandfather of contemporary cartooning.

Nunnington Hall’s Property Manager Simon Lee says:

'We are really pleased to be showcasing some of the work by one of the greatest names in illustration and cartoons at Nunnington this summer. Many people have grown up with Searle’s work and his instantly recognisable style. With such a long career behind him, I hope this exhibition will bring back many memories for visitors, and make people smile.'

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Magazine Illustration Part 1: TV Guide

During the 60s, 70s & 80s Searle was a regular contributor to US magazine TV Guide. This image of Bob Hope was his first cover in 1965.

Between 1967-1995 Jerry Alten was Art Director of TV Guide and hired Searle repeatedly.  In correspondence with me he related how dependable Searle was:

"I worked with Ronald for some thirty years. Unfortunately for me most of it was through the mail. As art director of TV Guide magazine I had to contend with 52 covers a year as well as 10 to 12 art needs inside the magazine.

Most of the time I checked a pre-sketch of the work being done because being a weekly magazine everything had to go to the printing plant in 5 or 6 days. Conception of what I wanted took some time as did the fact that my artists and photographers were all over the country and the world. One of the very few people I never requested a pre-sketch from was Ronald. I knew it would always be right on and it always, in 30 years, was."

Jackie Gleason 21st June 1969

'F-Troop' 27th May 1967

Ed Sullivan
Watercolor and ink on paper, 1968 51.8 x 35.2 cm (203/8 x 137/8 in.)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

 Beatrice Arthur and Hermione Baddeley of “Maude”
March 29 – April 4, 1975

March 31st 1979

August 26th-September 1st, 1967 

'Peyton Place'

(courtesy of David Welch, Childhood Memorabilia, Wentzville,MO; EBAY seller pezdudewelch)


by Ronald Searle, TV Guide Sept 1965

Practically everything that can be said
has been said ad nauseam about this sweaty fairy tale and its never-ending success with the ratings. In sheer acreage of human flesh alone, Bonanza must be one of the biggest things to hit the TV screens of the Western world since showgirls.
To spend a day in the studio with the Cartwright family is about as perilous as being shoved into a bullring---with only a fountain pen for protection. The wide open spaces of Nevada reach only as far as the cyclorama; and the hitching post between the studio visitor and the steed that rears to a halt under Ole Pa Cartwright (after a long gallop from one arc light to another)seems too frail.
Here after six years, something should be limping in the State of the Ponderosa. However, gravediggers are certainly not apparent in the atmosphere, which is about as sensitive as that of a baseball locker room. Only Dan "Hoss" Blocker, deep in consultation with his Business Interests over there in the shadows, belies what would seem to be nothing more than a golden crust of cliché spread stickily over Stage 16, at Paramount Studios.
What has Bonanza got that the others haven't got? The answer is Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, and Michael Landon, who still retain a sense of belief in the show.

The "Cartwrights" have managed to insulate themselves against the encroachment of better judgment, sex and the Beatles. What other show can boast a father figure who has almost toppled Ringo Starr from the Top 10 with a sentimental ballad called, ironically, "Ringo"?
There is more than a smell of confidence in the Ponderosa ranch house. Right must triumph in the end, and if there has to be any long hair around, it had better be on the hosses -or else. And, hush! That crackle in the undergrowth. Could it be . . . ? You're right. It's money! And that speaks, pardner.
Continue for a visit to Lorne Greene as he prospects for gold in a Sparks, Nevada night club.

Johny Carson, August 31st, 1968


TV Guide Spot illustration 1980s

'Film Publicity: Welcome to a film person' ,1984

As far as I know this is the last cover Searle did for TV Guide, October 27th 1990. The magazine's art director had fun with this one-pasting Freddy Krueger on top of Searle's delightful painting!

"Who Killed Hollywood Society"

These are from Searle's period both illustrating and writing TV Guide articles.

TV Guide July 1975 interior illustrations
'The Saga Of Culture'

'A Drink With Friends'

Sports listing in the same issue (July '75)

'Cost of (satellite) launch'

 'Saddam Hussein' 1972
 'Welsh Woman with Scallion'


June 2,1979

TV Guide for January 3rd – 9th, 1976. (Cover Art by Bernie Fuchs)
Within the pages of the magazine is a story entitled “Who Loves Ya, Baby?” by Alan Coren illustrated by Ronald Searle. 

'Phyllis Diller'
1968 Fall Preview Issue

  Don Knotts, 1970.

2nd September 1978

(Offensive stereotypes portraying offensive TV shows published Dec. 10th, 1977)

May 1989