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Dec 02 2022
Trader In A Lost Art: Richard Amsel Comments (0)

Amsel-raiders-boyculture(Image by Amsel for Paramount)

Richard Amsel, one of the most prolific and important illustrators of film posters, would have turned 75 this week (December 4). Instead, he died November 13, 1985, an early AIDS loss. (Not November 17, as Variety incorrectly reported.)

Boyculture-Richard-Amsel-Hello-Dolly(Image by Amsel for 20th Century Fox)

Amsel was born in Philadelphia, graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art. When he was just 22, his entry in a race for the art to be used by 20th Century Fox to promote Hello, Dolly! (1969) was chosen, catapulting him into the upper echelon of illustrators.

Via his pal Barry Manilow, he met Bette Midler, going on to illustrate her debut album — a now-iconic cover among many memorable works.

Click Here to See a Rare 1970 Amsel Commission

Among his most famous works were posters for such films as Chinatown, Murder on the Orient Express, Flash Gordon and The Sting, the latter of which winked at fellow gay illustrator J.C. Leyendecker's own work for The Saturday Evening Post.

His poster for Raiders of the Lost Ark is his most famous output, while his stunning Time cover of Lily Tomlin is in the Smithsonian.

Lily-tomlin-amsel-tv-guide-boyculure(Image by Amsel for Time)

His most sustained work was as the artist in residence for TV Guide. He was with them from 1972 until his death. Who can forget those amazing images?! He crafted spot-on illustrations of everyone from Sinatra to Elvis to Princess Diana and Lucille Ball.

Boyculture-Richard-Amsel-Lucille-Ball(Image by Amsel for TV Guide)

Amsel's last work for film was the movie poster for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (can't you just picture it without even looking it up?).

Since 2016, Adam McDaniel has been working on a doc and book devoted to the artist. I hope they come to fruition. This is a lost art.