Milton Luros was born Milton Louis Rosenblatt on December 26, 1911 in Brooklyn. His parents, Louis and Dora Rosenblatt, were German Jewish immigrants. They raised a large family in a rented apartment at 25 Grafton Street in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. The father was a house painter.
After finishing high school he attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he studied with several notable illustrators, such as H. W. Scott, Frederick Blakeslee, and John Fleming Gould.
In 1935 he devised the distinctive professional name, Luros, by reconfiguring his middle name, Louis, with the "R" from his actual last name.
His first assignments were pen and ink interior story illustrations for Western Trails.
By 1937 he had begun to sell freelance pulp covers to Adventure Novels, Cowboy Romances, Crack Detective, Dime Mystery, Dime Western, Double Action Gang, Exciting Western, Detective Novels, Detective Tales, New Detective, Popular Detective, Science Fiction, Strange Detective, Ten Detective Aces, 10-Story Detective, Thrilling Detective, Thrilling Ranch, True Crime, True Gangster, Western Aces, and Western Yarns.
He married Beatrice Bessin in 1938. They moved to a nicer neighborhood in Brooklyn and raised two sons.
In 1940 he rented an art studio at 39 West 67th Street. This was a popular neighborhood for artist studios. Some of his friendly neighbors were Allen Anderson, Ralph DeSoto, George Gross, Richard Lillis, Alex Redmond, Norman Saunders, and Gloria Stoll.
During WWII he reported for enlistment on September 1, 1943, at which time he was thirty-one years old. He served as a Tech Sergeant in the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, PA. He illustrated instructonal manuals, such as how to assemble a portable pontoon bridge.
After the war he continued to do freelance illustration for Crack Detective, Famous Detective, Smashing Detective, Astonishing, Dynamic Science Fiction, Future, and Science Fiction Quarterly.
By 1950 he had legally changed his name to Milton Luros, when he became the art director of a new pulp magazine produced by Columbia Publications, which was entitled Famous Detective. This same magazine also featured his cover paintings as well as his line art to illustrate interior stories. No one else in the history of pulp art had ever simultaneously played all three roles of art director, cover artist, and interior line artist.
As pulp magazines grew less popular and the industry shrank, the artists grew increasingly under-employed. At this same time Milton Luros wrote and drew a nationally syndicated newspaper comic strip called, Roger Lincoln, S-Man. The strip ran for four years, and folded in 1952.
In 1955 Milton Luros started his own art agency, The American Art Agency, and he helped many of his neighborhood artists find work in other outlets in exchange for ten percent. According to Norman Saunders, "I always liked Milt. He wasn't a great artist, but he was a very smart businessman. He realized before the rest of us that there was no future for freelance artists, so he started an art agency. I joined his agency for a little bit, just to see if he could find me any new jobs. But it turned out we both knew all the same people, so I had no need for an agent."
At this same time Milton Luros began to work for men's adventure magazines, such as All Man, Man's Life, Men in Conflict, Real Action, Real Men, and Sir!
In 1957 he began to work for Universal Studios, where he designed movie posters and billboard advertising, so he moved his family to California. In 1958 he became the art director of two West Coast men's magazines, Adam and Knight. These magazines were both produced in Northridge, CA, which is just north of Hollywood.
By 1959 he was publishing his own men's magazine, Cocktail, which was distributed exclusively through liquor stores. He was soon the head of a publishing empire, Parliament News Distributors, Inc., which specialized in nudist and erotic publications.
In 1967, while conservative, liberal, and radical forces battled over the direction of the American culture, Parliament News was involved in an indecency trial. Luros business accounts were inspected and his annual income was listed as over five million dollars. This sensational fact was widely reported in nationwide newspaper headlines, in which he was unjustly labeled "the world's richest pornographer."
The legal definition of pornography has always changed with evolving fashions and strategies of political opportunists, but the greatest injustice would be to allow this 1960s scandal to define Milton Luros by overshadowing the significant artistic accomplishment of his life long contribution to American popular culture. He won the trial on appeal, and lived and worked another thirty years.
Milton Luros died at the age eighty-seven on April 19, 1999.
© David Saunders 2009