When I was growing up, I was obsessed with horses. I daydreamed about them, drew them, collected plastic versions, pretended to ride them in the back yard, and most of all, read about them. I devoured books about horses. Fiction and non-fiction both. I studied and memorized books about the care and upkeep of horses, and memorized the drawings that showed proper equitation.
Sam Savitt was a big part of that world. His drawings were everywhere: in the books on how to take care of your horse, how to ride. Books on famous horses and those not so famous. Charts on the confirmation of the horse. Horse magazine illustrations. He was as big a part of my world and my dreams as famous pulp writers may have been to those who were devoted to their work, or as Stan Lee was to comic book aficionados.
So I now write with tremendous pleasure about San Savitt's career illustrating for the pulp magazines. He did do a few covers, but the majority of his work was interior.
Sam Savitt was born Sam Savitz on March 22, 1917 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a coalmine town. He didn't have a lot of close exposure to horses while he was growing up - his father was a timekeeper at an iron foundry and so the family was probably very poor - but apparently he was fascinated by the horses and mules he saw in town.
Savitt (who started his career under his original name Savitz but eventually changed it to Savitt) started as a cartoonist and moved to New York city after school to find work as a cartoonist. It wasn't long before he was able to get work doing interior work for ACTION PACKED WESTERN, and later for FIGHTING WESTERN, SPEED WESTERN, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, RANCH ROMANCES, FIGHT STORIES, THE RIO KID WESTERN, POPULAR WESTERN, MASKED RIDER, EXCITING WESTERN, and others.
In the 1950s Sam Savitt worked for Dell comic books, painting covers for many of their titles, including Hi-Yo Silver. Finally, in the 1950s, Savitt was finally able to buy his own horse ranch.
In the 1960s he worked for several men's adventure magazines such as Outdoor Life, Real, See For Men, Sports Afield, and True. It was also during this time that his career as a book illustrator truly took off and he became probably the most sought after illustrator for horse books. He was the official artist of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Training Team. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Horsemen's Association.
Sam Savitt died in 2000, but his legacy lives on. As for me, he'll always be the artist who brought joy and dreams to a little girl who only wanted to ride horses.
Special thanks to David Saunders' web site www.pulpartists.com.
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