James William Bentley was born May 16, 1922 in Patchogue, NY, on Long Island. His father was William Nelson Bentley an electrician at a local company, who was born in Brookhaven, Long island in 1890. His mother was Ophelia Bentley. She was also born and raised locally, but was five years younger than her husband. There were three children in the family. His two older sisters were Thelma and Myrtle. They lived at 23 Wiggins Avenue in Patchogue.
In June of 1940 he graduated Patchogue High School, where he had discovered his talent and the dream to become an artist. He worked as a stock clerk at the Patchogue Manufacturing Corp.
On July 21, 1942 he was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He was recorded to be 6-foot-one and 138 pounds.
After the war he married his wife, Marie Bentley. They moved to Winter Haven, Florida, where his father had retired. He worked as a repairman for a local appliance dealer, but in 1950 he signed up for a correspondence art course from Art Instruction, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Twenty years earlier that same art school, which was still under the benevolent guidance of Walt Wilwerding, had also taught art training to many of the classic pulp artists, such as Norman Saunders, Allen Anderson, Carl Buettner and Ralph Carlson.
In 1951 he began to find his first professional jobs illustrating advertisements for local newspapers in Florida.
In 1952 his son William Bentley was born.
In 1953 he moved back to Patchogue, NY, where he cold raise his son in his own hometown. He rode the L.I.R.R. into NYC to show his portfolio of prospective cover paintings to art directors. His work mostly appeared on pulp magazines published by Martin Goodman, such as Best Western, Western Short Stories, and Western Novels & Short Stories.
He was among the last generation of younger artists who contributed their talents and skills to the final years of the pulp magazine industry, such as James Bama, Stan Borack, Mel Crair, Mort Engel, Ray Kintsler, and Ed Valigursky.
As the pulp industry grew weaker he shifted over to painting covers for paperback books. He worked for several publishers, such as Ace Doubles, Lion Books, Monarch, and Pyramid Books.
He also created cover paintings and interior story illustrations for the men's adventure magazine industry. His work appeared in Male, Man's World, Ken, Real Life Adventures, Sportsman, and Stag.
He eventually retired from illustration and became an art teacher at the South Bay Art Association of Long Island.
In 1984 he retired completely and moved to Venice Beach, Florida, where he lived at 790 Grado Drive.
Jim Bentley died in Venice Beach at the age of eighty-one on November 24, 2003.
© David Saunders 2009