Wednesday, April 04, 2018


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Arthur Radebaugh

Arthur Charles Radebaugh was born on May 14, 1906, in Coldwater, Michigan. His birth date is from the Social Security Death Index and the birthplace is based on census records. His middle name is from a family tree at Michigan marriage records at said Radebaugh’s parents, Cloyce A[lvin]. Radebaugh and Mabel L. Legg, were married in Coldwater on January 28, 1900.

Radebaugh and his parents were listed in the 1909 Coldwater city directory at 180 North Hudson. The same address was recorded in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. Radebaugh’s father was a foreman at a shoe factory; his World War I draft card said the employer was the Hoosier Shoe Company.

In 1979 the Branch County Historical Society published History of Branch County, Michigan, Volume 2, which has a 1916 photograph of the Washington School fourth grade class of 21 students including Radebaugh.

The Radebaughs’ residence remained unchanged in the 1920 census. Their last appearance in the city directory was 1922; at the time, Radebaugh was sixteen and a student at Coldwater High School. Where Radebaugh relocated was told by Jared Rosenbaum at Radebaugh: The Future We Were Promised which also has an impressive timeline of Radebaugh’s life and career. Rosenbaum said Radebaugh graduated in 1924 from Sturgis High School in Sturgis, Michigan. In 1925 Radebaugh enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and learned about the airbrush. Radebaugh, after a year-and-a-half of schooling, worked as a bus driver, theater usher, and hotel clerk. During 1929 Radebaugh left Chicago to become a beachcomber in Florida.

According to the 1930 census, the Radebaugh lived with his parents in Sturgis at 704 West Chicago Road. His occupation was commercial artist in the sign painting trade.

Rosenbaum said Radebaugh married Nancy Harrington on July 3, 1934 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They made their home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Radebaugh’s first appearance in Polk’s Kalamazoo City Directory was 1935. He resided at 413 West Dutton and was an artist at Crescent Engraving Company, “Commercial Photographers, Photo Engravers, Electrotypers, Commercial Art and Advertising Service 344 N Church”. The 1936 directory, at, was not available, and Radebaugh was not listed in 1937, but Rosenbaum said Radebaugh was still with Crescent.

Radebaugh’s career took a big step in 1935 when he illustrated the cover of Motor Show magazine. Rosenbaum said Radebaugh’s relationship with Motor Show lasted until 1957. He was commissioned by publications such as Advertising Agency, Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post and Fortune. Radebaugh also illustrated numerous advertisements that appeared in trade and national periodicals.

The 1940 census recorded an “Arthur Radebaugh” at the Wakefield Apartments, 111-07 73 Road, in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. According to the census, this self-employed person was born in Michigan and, in 1935, had lived in Kalamazoo. His age was off by three years and occupation was “aviator” but it’s possible the census enumerator misheard illustrator and wrote aviator. The name of the wife was “[illegible] Jean or Jenn” who was also born in Michigan and a 1935 Kalamazoo resident. Despite the inconsistencies, I believe this person was Radebaugh the artist. It’s not clear when he moved to New York City and how long he stayed.

Radabaugh enlisted in the Army. His Beneficiary Identification Records Locater Subsystem Death File, transcribed at, has two enlistment dates, November 23 and December 3, 1942, and two discharge dates, September 23, and November 30, 1945. However, Radebaugh’s service started a bit earlier. The Evening Star (Washington, DC), October 11, 1942, published this item.

Dinner Planned Tuesday by Automotive Engineers
The Washington section of the Society of Automotive Engineers will meet at the Cosmos Club at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for a dinner meeting.

Capt. A.C. Radebaugh of the Office of chief Ordnance will speak on “The Car of Tomorrow.” the Social hour will take place at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, and Capt. Radebaugh’s speech at 8 p.m.
The Star, October 28, 1942, reported the Ordnance Welfare Association of the War Department’s dance for officers and employees and said, “Capt. A.C. Radebaugh, former designer of many of the Fortune and Saturday Evening Post magazine covers, designed the posters and decorations for the dance.”

Radebaugh held the rank of major when he was discharged in 1945.

In 1946 the Detroit Golden Jubilee symbol (below) was designed by Radebaugh.

The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan), September 27, 1962, profiled Radebaugh and said, “In 1946 Radebaugh showed a sheaf of what he likes to call his ‘imagineering’ to a representative of General Features, and thereby a hobby became one of profit….” General Features produced a Radebaugh pictorial that appeared in many newspapers including the Citizen-Register (Ossining, New York), March 28, 1947 (below).

Radebaugh worked on four syndicated newspaper features. The first was Can You Imagine which was for the General Features Corporation in New York City. Can You Imagine ran in the Newark Star-Ledger* from November 30, 1947 to July 17, 1949; both are shown below.

Wonders of the Universe, another General Features product, was Radebaugh’s second syndicated series. Who’s Who of Newspaper Features: Galaxy of Great Newspaper Features (1953) said, in part,  

Wonders of the Universe is a thrilling new feature that tells the story of space-speed exploration of the skies in this scientific age.
The author is Dr. I. M. Levitt, director of the famous Fels Planetarium and an associate director of the Franklin Institute….

In WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE, Dr. Levitt writes on such important topics as “Life on other worlds,” “How to control the weather,” “Can the hydrogen bomb destroy the world?” and “Is the universe expanding?”

Illustrating WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE is Arthur Radebaugh, famed visionary artist.

Radebaugh believes that by stirring the imagination of people today, he will help speed the conveniences and luxuries of tomorrow. It is his belief “that American ingenuity can create and produce almost anything mechanical that people really want.” “Progress,” he says, “is limited only by our limited imagination.”

Born in Coldwater, Michigan, 40 years ago, Radebaugh was, even as a child, interested in futuristic art. From there he moved to Detroit, Chicago, the West Coast and New York. His air-brush futuristic art technique has now become internationally famous.
Dr. Levitt’s lengthy articles were accompanied by Radebaugh’s art. As far as I can tell, Radebaugh was never credited but he did sign his art. The feature ran in many newspapers** but space limitations meant the art was sometimes cropped or unused. So far the earliest Wonders of the Universe was found in the Albany Times-Union, (New York), December 14, 1952, entitled “All-at-Once Idea Worked with A-Bomb, Why Not in Building Space Platform?”

Wonders of the Universe continued into the 1970s but Radebaugh’s contributions ended in 1958. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Radebaugh produced two series for the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate. First was the Sunday feature, Closer Than We Think, which debuted January 12, 1958 and ended January 6, 1963. It was followed by Jet Swift and His Science Stamps which began January 20, 1963 and ran into the Summer or Fall 1963.

Polk’s Royal Oak, Michigan City Directory for the years 1950, 1953, 1955 and 1956 listed Radebaugh at 4407 Seminole Drive. The earliest directory said he was an artist at the New Center Studio in Detroit. At some point, he moved. Radebaugh was in the 1960 Birmingham, Michigan city directory at 15825 Buckingham in Beverly Hills. He was a cartoonist with the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate.

Radebaguh passed away January 17, 1974, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, according to his death certificate which was partially transcribed at A brief obituary was published by the Grand Rapids Press the following day.

* Can You Imagine also ran in the Kansas City Star, (Missouri)
** Wonders of the Universe appeared in the following newspapers: Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH); Columbus Dispatch (OH); Greensboro Daily News (NC); Jamestown Post (NY); The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon); Schenectady Gazette (NY); Seattle Daily Times (WA).

Further Reading and Viewing
AACA Library & Research Venter
Painting the Future: The Life and Work of Arthur Radebaugh

Atomic Scout
The Future World According to Radebaugh

Branch County
Randall Hazelbaker
Arcadia Publishing, 2005
Arthur Radebaugh Print

Chicago Tribune, October 3, 2004
A brush with automobile’s past

Heritage Auctions
National Motor Bearing Company proofs

Life, December 8, 1947
page 71: Automobile Design; two spot illustrations at the top of pages 74 and 75 (Radebaugh’s credits on page 31)

Life, March 6, 1950
page 93: “Black Light” Art

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Blog
Arthur Radebaugh’s “Closer Than We Think”

Arthur Radebaugh's Shiny Happy Future

Past Print
Arthur Radebaugh for National Motor Bearing Company


Highlighting Art of Yesterday’s Tomorrow

—Alex Jay


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