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Alberto Vargas papers, 1914-1985

Biographical Note

Alberto Vargas (1896-1981) was an illustrator in Southern California. Vargas was born in Peru and studied in Switzerland. He moved to New York City in 1916, but did not reach prominence until he moved to Southern California in 1936, where he was employed to draw portraits for the major Hollywood studios. He later worked for Esquire Magazine and from the 1950s to the 1970s was a featured illustrator for Playboy. Vargas became famous for his illustrations of pin-up girls and his use of watercolor and airbrush combined. In 1974, Vargas's wife, Ana Mae, died. Her death affected him deeply and Vargas began working infrequently. In 1978, he published an autobiography that revived interest in his work. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Vargas illustrated music album covers for the band The Cars and Bernadette Peters. Vargas died in 1982.