Dorothy Flack was born Dorothy McDaniel on March 8, 1902 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Rev. Dr. Charles F. McDaniel, was born 1865 in Maryland. He was pastor of a Lutheran church in Hoboken. Her mother, Lillian Flack, was born 1882 in New York. Her parents married in 1900. They had three children. Her younger sister Muriel was born in 1906 and her little brother Gerald was born in 1909. They lived at 204 Tenth Street in Hoboken, New Jersey.
As was the case with the vast majority of Americans at the time, she finished schooling and entered the job market while still a teenager. She must have been an excellent worker, because by 1920 at the age of eighteen she was a fashion designer at a New York City import company.
On November 15, 1920 she secretly married Walter Robert Gillette Flack, a close family friend. Neither of the newlyweds informed their families, and they both continued to live at home with their parents. Her husband was a twenty-two year old veteran of WWI. He had served overseas as lieutenant in an engineering division. He was the son of Major J. D. Flack of Palisade, NJ.
On February 3, 1921 her husband was accidentally shot in his bedroom by a deranged WWI veteran, Herman Borgstede. He had been a guest at the Flack residence for more than a month. Borgstede had been gassed in the war and suffered from shell-shock to such an extent that it is said he suffered continually from dementia. Walter Flack died from the wound ten days later in the Englewood Hospital. They had only been married for three months. During the subsequent police investigation the secret marriage was revealed.
Dorothy Flack, the faithful twenty-year-old widow, remained known by her married name for the rest of her life.
Her talent in fashion design was ideal for the women's section of newspapers. She drew frizzy-haired "Mary Pickford" beauties in a pen and ink style that was influenced by Nell Brinkely (1886-1944). By 1924 her romantic drawings appeared every week in Hearst newspapers. By signing her illustrations "Dorothy Flack" she also preserved the dignity of her father's good name, the Reverend Doctor Charles McDaniel.
Her drawings were a common feature for over ten years in The New York Evening Journal, where she was acclaimed as an extraordinary artist. "A genius in the portrayal of women. One of America's few artists with the gift of imagining the situation she draws as well as the sentiments of those who look at it. Dorothy Flack's charming girls have an irresistible fascination for Evening Journal readers. She stands second only to the famous Nell Brinkley and the drawings of both these distinguished artists appear on the Magazine Page of the New York Evening Journal."
By 1926 her illustrations began to also appear in the pulp magazine Love Story, published by Street & Smith. Love Story was widely regarded as one of the most lucrative titles in the pulp magazine industry. She also drew covers for Munsey's All-Story Love Stories. In those instances her pen and ink line art had colors added in the printing process by a professional colorist. Her work continued to appear in pulp romance magazines until 1941, at which point her frizzy-haired flappers were no longer fashionable.
In 1949 she appeared as a guest celebrity on Carlton Frederick's WMGM radio program.
In the 1950s she moved to Los Angeles in search of business opportunities. She settled in a suburb, Downey, CA, where she remained active in fashion circles.
On March 19, 1963 California newspapers reported that a ladies charity sold Easter hats that had been donated from top New York City hat shops through exclusive arrangement by Dorothy Flack.
Dorothy Flack died in Santa Monica, California at the age of eighty-seven on March 18, 1989.
© David Saunders 2011