Interesting Facts about Norman Rockwell

by Ted Marten

Born in 1894, Norman Rockwell was a prominent American artist and illustrator. In addition to paintings, Rockwell created illustrations for the cover of "The Saturday Evening Post" for more than 40 years. Some famous Rockwell works include "Rosie the Riveter and "Saying Grace," along with the "Willie Gillis" and "Four Freedoms" series.

Early Jobs

At age 18, Norman Rockwell accepted his first job illustrating the book, "Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature," written by C.H. Claudy. The following year, in 1913, Rockwell went to work as the art editor for "Boys' Life," the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America.


Rockwell married three times over the course of his life. His first marriage to Irene O'Conner ended in divorce in 1930. Mary Barstow was his second wife, and the couple had three children together. This marriage ended when his wife passed away of a heart attack in 1959. In 1961, Rockwell married Molly Punderson, and the union lasted until his death in 1978.


In 1943, a fire destroyed Norman Rockwell's studio, and he lost all of his work and props. In addition, the fire changed the way Rockwell worked. He went from painting historical illustrations to creating more works about everyday life.


Rockwell tried to enlist in the U.S. military during World War I, but initially found himself rejected because he did not weigh enough. At 140 pounds and six feet tall, he was 8 pounds underweight. He spent one night gorging on doughnuts, bananas and liquids to meet the weight requirements.


During his career, Norman Rockwell produced more than 4,000 pieces, including over 40 book illustrations. Most of his work, not lost in the 1943 fire, is in museums. His drawings have influenced a number of movies, and directors have featured them in films, including "Empire of the Sun," "Funny Farm," "The Polar Express," "Forest Gump" and "American Gangster."