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Earle K. Bergey
(American, 1901-1952)
A.34.1 Bergey, Earle - Shadow Over Mars.jpg

Born in Philadelphia, Bergey attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1921 to 1926. He initially went to work in the art department of the Philadelphia's Public Ledger, drawing for the comic strip Deb Days in 1927. Early in his career, Bergey contributed many covers to the pulp magazines of publisher Fiction House.


Throughout the 1930s, Bergey freelanced for a number of notable publishing houses. His eye-catching paintings were predominately featured as covers on a wide array of romance, detective, adventure, aviation, and western pulp magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post. Considered one of the first major American pin-up artists, Bergey also contributed numerous covers for fitness and men's magazines such as Gay Book Magazine, Pep Stories, and Snappy.


In the 1940s, Bergey began contributing to a number of science fiction magazines, including Standard Publications' Strange Stories and Captain Future, and later, Fantastic Story Magazine. Bergey made the transition to the rapidly expanding paperback book industry in 1948. While continuing to paint pulp covers, Bergey sold illustrations to at least four leading paperback publishing houses, including Popular Library and Pocket Books. His paperback cover illustrations were as diverse as his work for the pulps. In addition to his work on Anita Loos' famous Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bergey painted cover art for well-known authors from Émile Zola to the Western master, Zane Grey.


His illustrations of scantily-clad women in space helmets served as an inspiration for Princess Leia's slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi and Madonna's famous cone-shaped bra. Bergey's science fiction covers, often described as "Bim, BEM, Bum," usually featured a woman being menaced by a Bug-Eyed Monster, alien, or robot, with a heroic male astronaut coming to her assistance.

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