Frederick Manley Blakeslee was born December 4, 1898 in Buffalo, NY. His parents were Bertha and Harland "Harvey" Manley Blakeslee. The family was of English ancestry. His father was a skilled factory machinist. There were two children in the family. His younger sister was born in 1908. They lived at 367 Hudson Street.
He studied mechanical drafting and basic art training at the Albright Art School in Buffalo.
He worked from 1915 to 1920 in the drafting department of the Curtiss Aeroplane Factory, which was only three blocks from his family home. He was transferred to a Brooklyn factory in 1921, and afterwards studied art at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, and received his certificate in 1926.
While a student at Pratt, he became engaged to Lorna Jones, a pupil in the librarian program. They married June 21, 1930, but never had any children. At this same time, Blakeslee joined a circle of young Pratt Institute artists who were soon to work in the pulps, including H.W. Scott, Walt Baumhofer, A.L. Ross, J.F.Gould, and Rudy Belarski, who helped Blakeslee to get his first cover assignments for pulps in 1929.
Blakeslee became a leader in the field of aviation pulps, as well as a top cover artist for railroad pulps. He was also a top pen & ink man, who drew over one thousand interior black and white story illustrations for Popular Publications, his primary publisher. Blakeslee painted 423 pulp covers — 306 of those appeared on every issue of Battle Birds, Captain Combat, Dare-Devil Aces, Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds, and G-8 and His Battle Aces, which was an amazing feat that no other pulp artist can claim.
In 1941, Fred & Lorna Blakeslee moved to Roslyn Heights, Long Island.
During WWII, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve as a Seaman 1st Class on routine coastal patrols for Nazi U-Boats.
After the war, Blakeslee found only a little work for slick magazines, such as American Weekly and Argosy.
As freelance work became harder to find, Blakeslee returned to his earlier occupation as an industrial draftsman for Sperry-Rand Corporation at nearby Lake Success, NY, where he worked for 15 years.
He retired in 1963 and moved to Danville ,Vermont, where he painted picturesque landscapes of the White Mountains.
Frederick Blakeslee died of a heart attack at age 74 on March 5, 1973.
© David Saunders 2009