Joyce Ballantyne was born in Norfolk, Nebraska. She had always liked drawing and made paper dolls as a youngster which she sold for $1 a time. She entered many art contests and won a scholarship to Disney’s school of animation as a teenager. Once they discovered she was a young woman, however, Disney rescinded the scholarship.
She attended Nebraska University and outside of her course work she painted murals for cinemas and department stores. She also learned to fly. She left university to study commercial art at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. She joined the commercial firm Kling studios where she painted maps and illustrated a dictionary. With so many male artists being drafted in WW2 it became easier for a woman to get ahead. Joyce moved to another studio, Stevens/Gross, where she remained for a decade. One of her fellow artists there was Gil Elvgren (more on him another time) who had been one of her teachers at the Academy of Art. It was Elvgren who introduced her to top pin-up firm Brown and Bigelow. She was soon awarded the honour of her own 12 month calendar published by Shaw-Barton in 1955 From which our top picture comes).
In 1959 Coppertone suntan lotion asked a series of illustrators to submit sketches for their new poster campaign. Ballantyne, who was a strikingly attractive woman, had often used herself as a model for her pin up pictures and for this pitch she turned to her three year old daughter, Cheri (“because she was available and because she was cheap”).
Cheri poses for the picture that will haunt her for life
She won the contract, which paid a rather worthwhile $2,500 and created one of the most famous advertising images ever.
Joyce Ballantyne in her eighties
The dog was modeled on a neighbour’s cocker spaniel although it was changed for the final painting. Later the original was lost in a fire and Ballantyne earned another $2,000 to recreate the painting. Interestingly, in the second version the little girl is less exposed.
The image has been much parodied including this rather fine one of Carmen Electra for Esquire.
Another take on the painting
Ballantyne and her husband moved to Florida in 1974, a place she initially hated, preferring the big city atmosphere of Chicago and New York where she used to liberally down Martinis in the company of other artists and creative types.
Ballantyne at the age of 86. A fun lady by all accounts!
She died in 2006 at the age of 88.