The Esquire Glamour Girl Calendar of 1948

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Esquire magazine, when it debuted in 1933, was a precursor to Playboy in many respects. It featured substantial articles but was primarily purchased for its pin-up content. Unlike photographic nudes, Esquire’s pin-ups consisted of tantalizing glamour girl cartoons, initially created by George Petty. By 1939, these cartoons had evolved into double-page spreads, essentially pioneering the concept of the centerfold.


However, a dispute arose between George Petty and the magazine publishers, leading to his replacement in 1940 by the renowned Alberto Vargas. Vargas remained with Esquire until 1947, when he too found himself in conflict with the magazine’s publishers. This was regrettable since the Esquire Vargas Calendar, introduced in 1941, enjoyed significant success, selling approximately 320,000 copies and coming in various formats. Vargas later joined Playboy in 1957, where his work continued to appear for the next 21 years.

After Vargas departed from Esquire, a rotating group of artists took over, and they were responsible for creating the 1948 calendar, which ironically became the most famous of them all. Stylistically, it closely resembled Vargas’ work (although Esquire had cleverly trademarked ‘the Vargas Girl,’ omitting the “S” from his name, resulting in Vargas losing a court case). Artists like Ben-Hur Baz, Joe De Mers, Fritz Willis, and J. Frederick Smith contributed to this calendar.

Esquire continued to produce calendars until 1957, at which point they phased them out as a new generation of men’s magazines with more explicit photographic content took over the market.


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