Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Art Of Making Mike Douglas Thinner.

One of my New Years resolutions for 2015 was to bring order to the mess I call my studio.

 In the process I came upon illustrations done while at KYW-TV 3, and the Mike Douglas Show.
This illustration is not by me, but of me, posing for a fellow illustrator, Charles Santore. Charlie has forever been THE PREMIER illustrator in Philly, in my opinion. I had just gotten my job in the art department, and he needed a model for an ad for TV Guide magazine. Although I worked "behind the scenes," I was never a cameraman.

I was one of seven very talented Set and Graphic Designers during my ten years at channel 3. I was the only Illustrator, but each of us got to do ads, graphics, and set design for the Douglas Show, Eyewitness News, and other productions. It was a great time to work in television in Philly, 'cause Westinghouse Broadcasting was making tons of bucks off the Mike Douglas Show, Merv Griffin,  David Frost, and other local shows.
This is a piece done to promote the Douglas show on billboards, sides of buses, etc.

I enjoyed my role as Illustrator, but one of my unique challenges was doing portraits of Mike Douglas.
I didn't usually have a problem getting a "likeness," but I cannot tell you how many times a portrait of Mike would be sent back me in the art department, with a request to "make Mike a little thinner." I did what I thought I could get away with without losing the likeness, sent the image back for approval, and was never
surprised when it came back a few more times before the folks in the Douglas offices (Mike?)
were finally happy. Over the years I've gotten the same kinds of requests from lawyers and prosecutors when covering a trail. I usually tell them "I just draw what I see."

Here is a piece done for the Merv Griffin Show, which came out of "the little theater off Times Square," in
New York. I was never asked to make Merv thinner.      

During its' prime, the Douglas Show had a bigger audience than the Tonight Show. The women of America seemed to love Mike and his Irish charm. Someone once said he reminded them of the husband they wish they had, or the son they never had.

The Douglas Show had a unique format for its' time. Every week there would be a "guest host," and I would
do portraits of them that appeared on the set, in advertising, where ever. Here is one done of Billie Jean King. Whenever I could I'd get guests to sign their portrait for my collection.

Here is Richard Pryor. Most of these were done in ink line and, for color, Magic Markers.

One morning I found myself on the cramped little studio elevator with Muhammad Ali and his wife.
Back in the 70s everything was "Super Graphics" and "Psychedelic Color."

As the "Resident Illustrator," I did many portraits of famous lawyers and infamous criminals when covering trials for the News department. I have every painting done from those trials (over two thousand) and I'm finally at work on the manuscript for my "Coffee Table" book about my many years as a "Courtroom Artist."

There were a few "guest hosts" I didn't get to draw, because for a month or so our union decided to go on STRIKE. During one of those weeks Burt Reynolds was on the Douglas Show. One of the cameramen foolishly challenged Burt as he was entering the building, so Mr. Macho Burt DECKED HIM! I could not resist doing this cartoon of the event, with a bit of exaggeration, of course.

There were other events at KYW-TV 3 that were much less violent, but certainly just as raucous and oh so much fun. Like the Christmas Party. My friend Barbara was head of the Promotion Department and a former "Rockette."  I cannot recall who the guy was on the right, but quite obviously, not yet ready for "Prime Time."



  1. Wow again Bill. These signed pieces are Antiques Roadshow worthy!

  2. Thanks Nancy. Wouldn't it be fun if they actually were...?!

  3. I LOVE this post. What treasures you have tucked away!! So darn cool!

  4. By far, the best site on the internet!