Robert George Harris was born September 9, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. His parents were Lena M. Harris and Harry G. Harris. The father was a salesman for Ladies Millinery in Kansas City. They had two children, Robert, and a younger sister, Virginia. They lived at 34 East Fifty-Fourth Street.
Robert Harris studied at the Kansas City Art Institute since the age of fourteen, and in 1929 he studied under the tutelage of Monte Crews. Emery Clarke, John Falter, and Richard Lyon were also art students there at the same time.
In 1933 he left Kansas City and drove a motorcycle all the way to New York City. He opened an art studio in New Rochelle at 560 Main Street. He shared the space with John Falter, Emery Clarke, and Richard Lyon. Charles LaSalle, John Scott, and Graves Gladney were also neighbors. He studied with Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art and with George Bridgman at the Art Students League.
His first published assignments were story illustrations for Street & Smith's Western Story. He went on to paint covers for Complete Stories, Double Action Western, Doc Savage, Pete Rice Western, Thrilling Adventures, Western Round-Up, Western Story, and Wild West Weekly.
In 1935 he married Marjorie Elenora King, who had also been a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1939 they moved to Larchmont, NY, where their son Craig was born. Then in 1941 they moved to Westport, CT, where their daughter Marcia was later born.
In 1937 he was signed by American Artists Agency, which helped him to move up from the pulps to illustrating slick magazines. He worked for Cosmopolitan,Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Liberty, McCall's, Redbook, and The Saturday Evening Post.
During WWII he volunteered to join the USO Artists For Freedom Project, which was organized by the NY Society of Illustrators to bring together over 200 artists to draw thousands of portrait sketches of wounded servicemen recuperating in military hospitals. Harris visited hospitals in New York, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina.
After the war he continued to paint for the slick magazines, He also worked in advertising for Coca-Cola, Cannon Sheets and other brand-name accounts.
In 1953 he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, and continued to work as an illustrator until 1961, when he began to concentrate on a new career as a portrait artist.
In 1970 he moved to Carefree, Arizona, and continued to paint important portrait commmissions until his retirement in 1989.
Robert Harris died at age of 96 on December 23, 2007
© David Saunders 2009