Frank George Kramer was born November 23, 1905 in Manhattan, NYC. His father, George Kramer, was born 1874 in New York of German immigrants. His mother, Catharine Kurtz, was born 1881 in New York and was also of German ancestry. His parents married on November 27, 1901. They had two children. His older sister Louise was born in 1903. They lived at 326 East Eightieth Street in the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side. This was a popular neighborhood for many German immigrants.
His father worked as an engineer at a pumping station. In 1914 his father was hired to work as a janitor at Public School 93 on Forest Avenue and Madison Street in Ridgewood, Queens. His family moved to 206 Schley Street (65th Place) in nearby Glendale, Queens.
Frank Kramer attended P.S.91 on Central Avenue in Glendale, from which he graduated on January 26, 1919.
That fall he attended Bushwick High School on Irving Avenue and Woodbine Street in Brooklyn. There he met William Ralph Kiefer, whose father also happened to be a public school janitor (P.S. 24), and John F. Gould, whose father was a neighborhood plumber. All three were young German-Americans with natural drawing talents and a collective dream to become wealthy commercial artists.
On July 21, 1922 during the summer before his senior year in high school his father was seriously injured on a school bus that collided with a tree during a field trip to Croton Reservoir in Upstate New York. A few weeks later on August 15, 1922 his father died at the age of forty-seven as a result of medical complications from the accident.
On January 31, 1923 Frank Kramer graduated from Bushwick High School and then went to work as a file clerk at the same insurance company where his older sister Louise had worked as a typist for three years. His high school pals, Kiefer and Gould, were both able to study art full-time at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, while his family could only afford night school art classes.
By 1925 his sister had married and moved away, after which he and his mother moved to a smaller and more affordable home at 7211 Sixty-fourth Place in Glendale, Queens, which they rented monthly for $35.
By 1928 he was promoted to accountant at the insurance company, but by the age of twenty-four he began to supplement his income by selling freelance pen and ink illustrations to the pulp magazine Sport Story. His pals Kiefer and Gould gave him glowing introductions to the art editor at Street & Smith, William "Pop" Hines. He drew pen and ink interior story illustrations for Popular Detective and Thrilling Adventures, but most of his illustrations appeared in Street & Smith's pulp magazines, such as Clues, Western Story, Unknown Worlds, and Sport Story.
On January 18, 1933 his widowed mother died a the age of fifty-two.
After his sports illustrations were seen by the author Jack Snow, Frank Kramer was hired to illustrate two of Snow's books for the Oz series. The Magical Mimics in Oz in 1946 and The Shaggy Man of Oz in 1949.
He illustrated comic books published by Street & Smith, such as True Sports Pictures. He also illustrated comics published by Ziff-Davis, such as Crime Clinic, and Wild Boy, for which Norman Saunders painted several covers and Everett Raymond Kinstler contributed drawings.
Throughout the 1950s he continued to illustrate interior stories for pulp magazines, such as Adventure, Short Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, and Double Action Detective.
In 1958 he moved to 9148 Eighty-eighth Road in Woodhaven, Queens.
During the 1960s he illustrated several of the Bud Baker junior-reader novels.
He was a lifelong fan of baseball, and he followed it devotedly during his retirement years.
Frank Kramer died at the age of eighty-seven in Woodhaven, Queens, NY, on July 10, 1993.
© David Saunders 2011