The Sports, Bunnies, and Art Life of LeRoy Neiman

For LeRoy Neiman, it was a difficult life, but somebody had to do it.
For LeRoy Neiman, it was a difficult life, but somebody had to do it.

On the morning of December 7, 1963, twenty-two years after Pearl Harbor and exactly two weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, LeRoy Neiman got into a limousine along with Shel Silverstein and Hugh Hefner. Their destination? The Cook County Courthouse, to face obscenity charges.

Elsewhere, the nation still reeled over the death of a President.

a3cc8d55ecc99896b9903655f1e4e03b-1In Chicago, the legal system would express its concerns over what individual citizens do at home alone in the dark. It was The City of Chicago vs. Playboy, and Neiman was right there in the middle of it all. It was to become his first courtroom sketches drawn from life.

According to Neiman, “The jury returned with their verdict: hung jury. No pun intended.”

LeRoy Neiman’s autobiography, All Told — My Art and Life Among Athletes, Playboys, Bunnies, and Provocateurs, is filled with similar stories from numerous and amazingly diverse settings. Readers will be surprised and pleased that this great artist is also a great story teller. From the ridiculous to the sublime, sincere to sensuous, this aficionado of the finer things of life tells his stories in a friendly conversational voice. Some of the best stories involve his encounters with provocateurs and raconteurs including both the rich and famous and those who were neither.

Any artist depends on contacts and exposure to propel his or her career (he was knighted in 1957). Networking and referrals are the lifeblood. Neiman had two of the best contacts an artist could hope to have: Hugh Hefner and Roone Arledge. Neiman’s work provided one of the (many) reasons for millions to say that they purchased Playboy for something other than the nude pictorials. ABC Sports put his work on display to 80 million people. Neiman’s sketching in venues where cameras either failed or were not allowed (think Bobby Fischer) helped expand his audience.

In every situation, Neiman delivered the goods. He turned sports into an art form. His work is appreciated and lauded by scholars and lay people, the wealthy and those not so. Neiman’s work graces the walls of famous museums, galleries, and collectors along with the dens of blue collar sports fans. And, of course, wherever you discover a copy of Playboy magazine, you’ll find Neiman’s work depicting man at play and Femlins being mischievous.

All Told includes a thorough sampling of Neiman’s work. With sketches, prints, and posters, there are almost as many images as there are stories. It hits the streets on June 8, 2012, the ninety-first birthday of the author/artist. It is available in both hardcopy and e-book. We enthusiastically recommend it for your collection.

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Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    LeRoy Neiman had a distinctive style, a distinctive life, and certainly a distinctive perspective on life. I loved his work. He created a style and stayed with it. You can see one of his paintings across the room and know it’s his before you ever see the name of the artist.

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