"Ann Brewster" was the pen-name of Shirley Sonya Zweifach, who was born in New York City on November 20, 1918. Her father, Abraham Marks Zweifach, was born in 1876 in Austria of Jewish ancestry and emigrated to America in 1885. Her mother, Anna Silverman, was born in 1885 in Russia of Jewish ancestry and emigrated to America in 1894. Her parents married in NYC on March 3, 1907. They had two children, Ira Stanley Zweifach (b.1914) and Shirley Sonya Zweifach (b.1918). The family lived at 940 Simpson Street in the Bronx. The father worked as a traveling salesman of ladies clothing.
Both children attended New York City public schools.
In 1927 the father became the owner and operator of a clothing factory that produced ladies coats. As the father's business grew prosperous, the Zweifach family left the Bronx and moved to a suburban home at 314 North Fulton Avenue in Mount Vernon, NY, which is between Yonkers and New Rochelle.
On June 27, 1931, at the age of twelve, Shirley Sonya Zweifach graduated from Lincoln Elementary School of Mount Vernon, after which she attended Wilson Junior High School of Mount Vernon, where she became interested in a career as a fashion designer.
On March 18, 1933 her older brother, Ira Stanley Zweifach graduated from Mount Vernon High School, where he developed an interest in publishing and began to collect rare and out-of-print books.
In June of 1937 Shirley Sonya Zweifach graduated from Mount Vernon High School, where she was awarded a scholarship to attend Cooper Union Art School in NYC.
In September of 1937 she began to attend the art school, which is at 30 Cooper Square on Astor Place, at St. Marks Street and the Bowery, in the East Village section of Lower Manhattan, NYC.
The 1940 U.S. Census listed the Zweifach family living in an apartment building at 839 West End Avenue on 101st Street. The apartment was one block east of Riverside Park, which runs along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side. The father was listed as a wholesale seller of ladies clothing. The mother was listed as a housewife. Shirley Sonya Zweifach was listed as a student attending her junior year of college. Her older brother, Ira Stanley Zweifach, was listed as a high school graduate, living at home, and employed as a photographer in the field of magazine illustration.
In June of 1941 Shirley Sonya Zweifach graduated from Cooper Union. Her yearbook photo included the description, "Imagine a girl who's proud of having successfully avoided every meeting of the Dance Club since the middle of her first year. She's not anti-social, but to Shirley Sonya Zweifach, life holds greater interests. Take painting now - Shirley works like an embryo Picasso on the canvas daubing - not bad either. She's aiming toward an ivory tower where she can paint to her heart's content."
After graduation she began to look for work as a commercial artist under the professional pen-name, "Ann Brewster."
By that time U.S. government was already concerned about military preparedness, so all healthy young men were subject to a compulsory draft for military service. As a result, most businesses lost many trained employees to the armed forces, but to replace them, managers began to hire inexperienced women, to rebuild a trained workforce that could withstand further depletion from the draft.
In 1942 "Ann Brewster" was twenty-six years old, when she was hired to work in the Binder Comic Shop. The studio was operated by Jack Binder. He supplied comics to publishers, such as Fawcett, Marvel, and Street & Smith. According to one of his artists, "Binder had a loft on Fifth Avenue and it just looked like an internment camp. There must have been fifty or sixty guys up there, all at drawing tables." The pay was low, but the camaraderie of the artists provided useful training for "Ann Brewster." Jack Binder eventually moved the business to a carriage house barn near a home he bought in Englewood, New Jersey, where he and his wife raised five children. His brothers Earl and Otto Binder also lived nearby in Englewood.
In 1942 Shirley Sonya Zweifach's brother, Ira Stanley Zweifach, married Ellen Fuller (b.1918) and moved to 306 West 93rd Street, where they eventually raised a daughter, Andrea Zweifach.
On July 23, 1942 The New York Times reported Abraham Zweifach had leased apartment 8E at 801 West End Avenue, between 99th and 100th Street, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A few months later the 1943 NYC Address Directory listed "A. Zweifach" at 801 West End Avenue with the telephone number 864-2415. That same directory also listed "Ann Brewster" at 801 West End Avenue, with the same telephone number, 864-2415.
On May 19, 1943 Shirley Sonya Zweifach's older brother, Ira Zweifach, was drafted. His service record listed him as having graduated high school. He was married and employed as an editor in publishing.
On March 30, 1944, the artist's father, Abraham Zweifach, died at the age of sixty-seven in Manhattan. He was buried in Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens, NY. After this tragic death the widowed mother lived alone with her unwed daughter for the rest of her life.
In 1944 "Ann Brewster" joined the Iger Studio, located at 1619 Broadway, between 49th Street and 50th Street. The Iger Studio supplied material for such publishers as Quality Comics, Holyoke, and Gilberton's Classics Illustrated. The company was owned by Jerry Iger. The Business Manager of the shop was Ruth Roche. While employed at this shop, "Ann Brewster" worked with Robert Hayward Webb (1915-2000) to draw the Classics Illustrated Comic, "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley.
In 1948 "Ann Brewster" rented an art studio at 140 West 79th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, near the Natural History Museum.
In 1948 "Ann Brewster" worked for Ace Publications, where she met the younger artist Lou Cameron (1924-2010).
In 1957 Gilberton published a revised edition of "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelly with a new cover painted by Norman Saunders. The interior illustrations remained the same as the 1944 edition, with drawings by Robert Hayward Webb and "Ann Brewster."
In 1962 Wonder Books published "Bible Stories to Read Aloud" by Oscar Weigle, with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
On October 12, 1965 the artist's mother, Annie Zweifach, died at the age of seventy-eight in Manhattan. She was buried beside her husband at Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens.
In 1966 Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children published "The Nighthawks" by Helen Hoover with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
In 1969 the Hammond Map Company published "Animal Atlas of the World" by E. L. Jordan with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
In 1973 Atheneum Books published "Silver Wolf" by Paige Dixon with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
On July 29, 1973 The New York Times published the article, "Wolves Named Silver" by Jean Craighead George, in which the book reviewer praised "Silver Wolf" by Paige Dixon, "Mr. Dixon writes with suspense and catches the excitement of the wilderness. There are also clean-lined drawings by Ann Brewster."
In 1974 comic book historian Hames Ware (b.1943) corresponded with Lou Cameron, who recalled, "Ann Brewster did romance art for almost all the publishers. You can always tell her work, because her women all looked like the Hollywood actress Ann Miller would have looked if she had shopped at Klein's [a bargain department store on Union Square and 14th Street. "Klein's on the Square!"] and if she wore her hair like ten years out of style. I recall no one who pounded the pavement with more dedication and Pollyanna faith in the wisdom of art directors than Annie Brew. She was always breathless, always in a hurry. She was like a mature version of Betty Boop. Annie lived at home with her mom up on Riverside Drive. I last saw her shortly after her mother's death in 1965. She was living on West End Avenue, near Riverside Park, and doing animal illustrations for a museum or something. Annie Brewster had a write up in the Times. She was cited as an outstanding illustrator of children's hardcovers, and could not care less about whatever happened to the Submariner!"
In 1974 Delacorte Press published "The Dell Encyclopedia of Dogs," which included illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
The September 1974 issue of Humpty-Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children included "The Nest Builders" by Hal Borland with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
In 1975 Golden Look-Look Books published "What is a Mammal?" by Jenifer W. Day with illustrations by "Ann Brewster."
In 1980, at the age of sixty-two, "Ann Brewster" retired from illustration.
On September 15, 1998, the artist's older brother, Ira Stanley Zweifach, died at the age of eighty-four in NYC.
The 2002 NYC telephone directory listed Shirley Zweifach in apartment 8E at 801 West End Avenue with the telephone number 864-2415. She never married and she had no children.
Shirley Sonya Zweifach died at the age of eighty-six on July 9, 2005 in NYC. She was buried beside her parents at Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens.
© David Saunders 2016